The DCTU Bargaining Team met with the City of Portland with the facilitation of a mediator from the State of Oregon. Unfortunately, we did not make any progress despite making an offer that was considered by most of the team, a bottom line proposal. Items that are major sticking points include:
- The DCTU’s proposal for an across the board increase.
- The City’s proposal to eliminate preference for internal candidates for promotions within the bargaining unit.
- The City’s proposal to eliminate all restrictions and requirements for working employees out of classification.
- The DCTU’s proposal to allow for an alternative to a signing a HIPPA release to qualify for the 95%/5% health care premium split.
- The City’s proposal to severely limit an employee’s rights under Federal and State Law when undergoing a drug test.
We are currently working on scheduling another mediation session. In the meantime, we ask that members take a break at 9:15 am on September 27th, and join us at City Hall to support the DCTU Bargaining Team members public comments regarding the progress of negotiations.
DCTU Proposes an Increase for ALL employees
We all know that living in the Portland metropolitan area is not cheap and the DCTU bargaining team is aware that many of our members are struggling to keep up. Ironically, as the DCTU was making its case for an increase above the normal COLA, the City Council was approving a premium for the Police top brass, providing for an additional 5% in pay and moving expenses if they opt to live within the City Limits. The City rejected the Union’s proposal contending that it would be unfair for the City to provide the DCTU members with an additional increase when it did not provide one to the Laborer’s Local 483 and the Professional Technical Employees Local 17. When the DCTU raised the 5% premium being offered to Police command staff with an average salary of $134,000, and suggested that the City provide something for the lower wage employee of the City, they contended that low wage employees have promotional opportunities and do not remain in low paid positions for long. But…
City Insists on Reducing Promotional Opportunities
The City’s proposal for Article 13- Promotions eliminates the requirement to hire qualified internal applicants and allows the City to by-pass current employees up for promotion in favor of hiring a new employee. The City claims this is being done to promote “equity” but has yet to provide any evidence to show that it’s proposal will achieve that result. The language in our Contract applies only to positions that are non-management, so we have an excellent control group to compare to. According to the Office of Equity and Human Rights, management is far less diverse than non-management, illustrating there would likely be less “equity” under the City’s proposal. On the other hand, the DCTU is proposing a package of proposals that will provide career pathways, training, education and opportunities for advancement.
City Proposes Changing Who Gets to Work Out of Class and When
The City’s proposal for Article 11 – Working Out of Classification further reduces DCTU member’s ability to promote. Currently, the Contract requires that the first chance to work out of classification be given to employees who have applied and have been deemed qualified for the position they will be filling. It provides a on the job training for a job the employee hopes to promote to. The City’s proposal allows management to assign the work to any employee, opening the door to favoritism and nepotism.
City Refuses to Consider Alternatives to HIPPA Release
The DCTU is willing to accept the City’s heath premium penalty if an employee does not have a bi-annual wellness visit with their doctor, if we are able to reach an agreement on the rest of the Contract. However, the City’s proposal requires that employees sign a medical release in order to avoid having their employee contribution for health insurance double. The Union’s proposed solution is elegant with its simplicity: allow a note from the doctor, or require the doctor fill out a form indicating that the wellness exam was completed. The City has thus far been firm on denying this proposal, and has not indicated it is willing to compromise.
City Insists on Limiting Employees Rights During a Drug Test
Another area that the DCTU is willing to compromise is regarding reasonable suspicion drug testing. Although this is a major concession, and controversial within the ranks of the bargaining team, we can all agree that no one should report to work intoxicated. Although we have been able to address the inability to test for intoxication based on legal marijuana, we are stuck on the City’s proposal to limit employee’s rights to Union representation under Federal Law. Although the State of Oregon has yet to issue a formal decision, we suspect they will follow the Federal precedent. The DCTU proposes that we follow whatever decision the State issues pertaining to rights to a Union representative during a reasonable suspicion drug test.
Other Areas of Disagreement
In addition to the above, there are several other issues that are still outstanding. For example, the City continues to refuse to provide retroactive wage increases for our Police Admin Staff, expecting to get a pass on the Unfair Labor Practice they committed. The City continues to deny market increases to certain classifications such as Code Enforcement Specialist, arguing that there is not a recruitment problem, and simultaneously seeks to add language allowing the City to provide additional recruitment incentives to ensure there never will be one. They are proposing increasing Plumbing Inspectors and Electrical Inspectors, but offering a smaller increase to the Building Inspectors (currently they all are paid at the same rate). The City refuses to provide a language differential arguing that it is “complicated” despite the fact that many area employees have long standing policies to copy, while shameless using the banner of “equity” to strip our members of their contractual rights.
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