The big news today is the announcement that the DAS bargaining teams have reached a tentative agreement. The following arrived by e-mail just before 3:00 AM this morning.
Dear SEIU member:
After eight months of negotiations, we have reached a tentative agreement with the State on a new two-year contract.
From the start of bargaining, we have sought to keep state workers on the job serving Oregonians and to ensure that we do not shoulder more than our fair share of the burden necessary to see the State through the worst economic crisis of our lifetime. We feel that this agreement meets those goals.
Here are the highlights:
1. We protected fully paid family medical coverage. The State will pay for premium cost increases of up to 5% in each year. Increases between 5% and 10% will be paid partly by the State and partly from PEBB reserve funds. The state subsidy for part-time employees' health insurance will increase so that part-timers' premium costs do not rise.
2. There will be a one-year step freeze from 9/1/09 through 8/31/10. While this is a significant sacrifice, it is a huge improvement on the two-year step freeze the State had proposed. Employees who receive a step in July or August 2009 will have that step "rolled back" on 9/1/09 and then restored on 9/1/10. They will keep the money they got from the step in their July and August paychecks.
3. We protected the new 10th step. This means that all bargaining unit members will get one step at some point during the life of the contract.
4. There will be no cost of living adjustments during the contract.
5. We will take 10, 12, or 14 furlough days over the next two years. These days will mean real sacrifice, both for workers and for the Oregonians who rely on our services, but the impact will be much less than the 24 days the State had proposed, and less than employees of many other states have taken. Employees earning less than $2,450 a month will take 10 days. Employees earning $2,450 to $3,100 will take 12 days. Employees earning more than $3,100 will take 14 days. While some agencies will implement furlough days on a "floating" basis, in most agencies offices will be closed on the designated furlough dates. Furlough days will be pro-rated for part-time and seasonal employees and will count as time worked for accruals and insurance. A fact sheet with more details on furlough implementation will be available soon.
6. In addition, there are other changes that will benefit members, including a classification study covering support staff and health care positions that must be finished in time to bargain salary rates in 2011 and an extra year of recall rights for laid-off workers.
7. More details about these highlights and other aspects of the tentative agreement will be posted soon on our website, .
We will be holding a bargaining conference on Saturday, August 15 for elected bargaining delegates to review the tentative agreement and vote on whether to recommend ratification. Following the bargaining conference, all members will receive ratification ballots by mail. You must be a member to vote. If you need a membership application, please check with your union steward or call your local SEIU office: http://www.seiu503.org/contact/Field_Offices_and_Staff_Directory.aspx.
As central bargaining team members, we knew from the outset that these would be the toughest negotiations we had ever faced. And they were. But under the circumstances, we believe this settlement, combined with a legislatively approved budget that minimizes layoffs and cuts in services, is a victory for fairness.
We would not have achieved anything like this if we had not contributed our time and voluntary CAPE contributions to elect legislators willing to stand with us to protect services, our jobs, and our rights. We would not be here, either, without support from community allies like AARP, Children First, Oregon PTA, and without the alliances we forged with Oregon's other public sector unions. But there is little doubt about who played the most important role. You did. You organized worksite unity actions, confronted your agency managers, testified at hearings in Salem and across the state, lobbied legislators, marched through the streets of Portland and, finally, generated thousands of phone calls to the Governor. It is because of these actions and our unity that we have reached a tentative agreement that is far better than what we once faced: a full two-year step freeze, thousands of potential layoffs, and 24 furlough days. We are stronger together.
Kermit Meling, ODOT
Bill Kinyoun, ODW
Karen Miller, DHS
Theresa Arndt, DOE
Dan Smith, OSH
Dan Ferguson, OYA
Rob Sisk, DAS
Trish Lutgen, ODE
Marc Nisenfeld, OUS
Nat Elder, OUS
Linda Burgin, SEIU
Donna Glathar, SEIU
Leslie Frane, SEIU