Tentative agreement at Multnomah County

County workers picket outside the Walnut Park complex in September. | PHOTO BY COLIN STAUB

By COLIN STAUB

AFSCME Local 88 and Multnomah County have negotiated a contract that about 2,800 union members will have the chance to vote on from Nov. 7 through Nov. 14.

If approved, the contract would bring a 5% cost-of-living adjustment retroactive to July 1, along with a $2,500 immediate bonus. It provides another 5% raise and $2,000 bonus in July 2023. The contract includes a final raise of between 1% and 4%, tied to the consumer price index (CPI), in July 2024.

The agreement raises the minimum wage for County employees to $20 per hour, up from $15.49 in the previous contract. It also expands a 4% bilingual premium to cover any instances where a worker is routinely translating on the job, while the previous contract only provided bilingual pay when the translation was directed by a supervisor.

It also gives eight more hours of vacation per year to workers with two to 15 years of continuous service, and increases their vacation accrual caps. For example, a worker with two years of service can accrue 128 hours in a year, up from 120, and can accrue a maximum of 264 hours, up from 248.

It also expands essential worker pay, providing a 20% premium to non-remote workers who have to work during any kind of emergency that has closed facilities; the premium previously applied only when essential employees worked during inclement weather.

To reach a deal, the county dropped a previous proposal to increase workers’ share of health premiums. Workers currently pay 5% of the premium.

A few items Local 88 was pushing for did not make it into the agreement, including recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day as a paid, observed holiday, and trauma/emergency leave. Union leaders say they’ll continue working toward those goals over the term of the contract.

The agreement comes after about six months of bargaining, and after two years of contract extensions due to the pandemic. It is Local 88’s first full contract negotiation since 2017.

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