July Bargaining Update

Scott's picture

Latest Updates: 28-Jul-2009

No update from the bargaining table yet. However, there is an update scheduled for those that work in the Capital Mall area. If you do, there's a unity break and frisbee toss scheduled for this Wednesday, June 8th, 2009. Details below:


Hello SEIU Capital Mall Workers-
 
The Local 581 ODE leadership team would like to challenge you and other Capital Mall workers to come out Wednsday July 8th in your purple to: 1) get a bargaining update, 2) share a little dessert, 3) and then toss about 200 purple SEIU frisbee's around. We are wanting to continue to build support and unity around our struggle for a fair contract. With any luck we might even have a weekly lunchtime unity action every wednsday out in front of the govenor's office until our members get a fair contract.
 
The event we are proposing would be July 8th on the capital mall out in front of the State Library. ODE will take care of the bargaining update and will bring two hundred Frisbees. We would like you to get the word out that July 8th is a Unity Break Lunch with a Frisbee Free-for-all. We would like to ask if Mall worksites or Mall Locals would be willing to bring a few desserts (simple stuff). We would like help in sending the Govenor the following message: We are still here, united, and are williing to do our part to get a fair contract!
 
Description of the event on Wednsday July 8th
Location: In front of the State Library Building at Noon; wear purple, bring a lunch
 
Agenda
-Trish Lutgen from the Central Table Bargaining Team will give a bargaining update at 12:15 pm out in front of the State Library Building  
-worksites or locals  are invited to "bring something to the table" perhaps a dessert to share  
- ODE, Local 581, will distribute up to 200 SEIU purple frizbees for folks to toss aroung, play SEIU Bargaining Frizbee Golf, and then take the Frizbees back in to their worksites.
 
The Goal of the July 8th noon time unity break
To be visible, get members updated by a bargaining team member, build unity, have some fun, own the mall area in front of the Govenors office till we get a fair contract.
 
Can you you help support this lunch break unity event?  Please forward this to fellow union members. 
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Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

 

 

Still waiting for official word. In the meantime, plan to come out for the BBQ and picket at SEIU 503 Headquarters on July 14th.

 

Be sure to contact your organizer if you plan to attend the BBQ.


SEIU BBQ, placard party and info picket on July 14th at SEIU HQ. This will be a fun event as we are bargaining with the State at HQ and doing an info picket out in front of the building will keep the pressure on. 
SAVE the DATE - JULY 14th, BBQ & Info picket

 

Date: July 14th

 

Time: 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Place: SEIU HQ, located at 1730 Commercial ST. S.

 

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

Today's update:


There were positive developments on two fronts this week - at the bargaining table and in the halls of state government.

On the heels of worksite actions involving SEIU members around the state last Tuesday and hundreds of calls to the Governor, we are continuing to make some modest headway in bargaining.

We have reached a tentative agreement on the framework of how furlough days will be implemented. We won contract language that requires furlough time to be counted as time worked for the purposes of accruals and insurance benefits, for it to be pro-rated for part-time and seasonal workers and for the day after Thanksgiving to be an office closure day for those agencies that implement the furlough process by closing entire offices.

In part because the law does not require management to bargain over scheduling, we did not prevail on our proposal that workers have a voice in whether furloughs are scheduled through office closures or on a floating basis; instead, management will make that choice. Most, though not all, programs and agencies will use the office closure system. And despite eloquent pleas by bargaining team members, management rejected our proposal that they reconsider whether furloughs make sense for programs not funded by the General Fund, since furloughs in those programs do not save any money for the State.

The biggest issues around furloughs - how many and whether the very lowest paid workers (those who earn less than $30,000 a year) have fewer furlough days than the rest of state workers - remain unresolved. Crucially, the question of protecting our steps also remains unresolved. And that is why the latest development away from bargaining is very important.

In response to remarks in the press from the Governor's office last week, the two chief legislative leaders have written a letter to the Governor and union leaders affirming the intent of a legislative budget note stating that savings from changes to state employee compensation do not need to total more than $65 million. That's what's needed to balance the legislatively approved budget. The letter, from Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Dave Hunt, is available for download here: [Attached above--Scott]

The budget note, now clarified by the leaders, provides a road map to a fair settlement. The State's latest proposal would cut workers' pay by almost twice the amount specified by the legislature, while our current proposal would save about $35 million. We have said that if the Governor accepts the $65 million number of the budget we will do so as well, even though that would require significant sacrifice from all state workers. If the Governor accepts the legislature's numbers, that would leave only the details to be ironed out.

Our bargaining team returns to negotiations next Monday and Tuesday. We have told the state that we expect a full proposal that addresses our steps and the amount of furlough days. We must build on the momentum created with our United for Oregon March and our June 30th rallies and phone calls.

Next Tuesday July 14 we are organizing unity breaks and other job actions across the state. Be there! Do that! Please take part and show your support for a fair contract!

 

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

There were a couple of updates/messages that came out Tuesday. The first was around activity at the capital mall:


Hello SEIU Capital Mall Workers-
 
SEIU union members would like to sending the Govenor the following message: "We are still here, united, and  committed to providing the best services that we can and are williing to do our part to get a fair contract! " 
 
Description of the event on Wednsday July 15th at 12:15 pm 
Location: In front of the State Library Building at Noon 
What to bring: Coworkers, purple, your lunch 
What you will get:   get an update of what's happening at the "bargaining table" and maybe some cookies or brownies
 
If you would like to bring a dessert to share that would be great; no worries if you can't.
 
The Goal of the July 15th noon time unity break
TO DEMONSTRATE THAT WE ARE COMMITTED TO DOING OUR PART TO REACHING AN TENTATIVE AGREEMENT FOR A CONTRACT THAT WE CAN LIVE WITH
 
CAN YOU SHOW UP TO SUPPORT YOUR BARGAINING TEAM? COULD YOU MAKE SURE YOUR COWORKERS KNOW ABOUT THIS SHORT NOTICE GATHERING?
Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

And another update, this time with some news about the bargaining:


Hi All,

Here is the latest information we have as of the noon meeting.

The Union and Management have a tentative agreement on 6 mandatory unpaid days, aka MUT. The dates are on Fridays as follows:

        11/27/09        Day after Thanksgiving
        3-19-10
        6/18/10
        8/20/10
        11/26/10        Day after Thanksgiving
        3/18/11

These MUT days will not affect leave accruals (vacation, sick leave) but does affect PERS. The MUTs listed above must be taken as an 8 hour block. For those of you working an alternative schedule, you will need to work with your managers to either change your schedule or use vacation or comp time for any hours over the 8 in the day you use. If you do not work on Friday, you and your manager must agree to an alternate day to use. Instead of using your leave time, see if you can work 8 hour days the week of the MUT.

At this time, both sides agree there will be more furlough days, however, the two sides are still worlds apart on how many and how they will be used. Bargaining is going on today discussing this topic, as well as steps. These are the two major topics of discussion the two sides are wrangling over.

Tonight is a Bargaining BBQ from 4:30 - 6:00 p.m. If you can make it, great!

In addition, we need as many people calling the Governor as possible. Current public opinion is 2 to 1 for more furlough days and less pay! This is your livelihood these people are affecting. If you want a fair contract that gives you steps and the least amount of furlough days, please call 503-378-4582 and leave a message everyday while we are still bargaining. We agreed in the very beginning that we would do our fair share, however, to expect the budget to be balanced on our backs again is unfair and spiteful. If the Governor gets what he wants it will force ONE THIRD of our represented employees to qualify for food stamps. Stand up for a fair contract!

I hope to see as many of you as possible at the BBQ tonight.

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

MUT days? Why are we trying to be nice now. They've been called far more accurately in the past. So let's all call them what they are: FU days!!!

That stands for Furlough Unpaid. Really. I mean it. Why are you looking at me like that?

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

In case you missed it, the number to call the Governor is:

503-378-4582

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

Another action today:


Hello SEIU Capital Mall Workers  (Yes we need to do this again),
 
Nice work on today's action! Over 70 workers recieved a clear update of what has been happening at the bargaining table. Workers took away information about what the next steps are to help move the Govenor off his unreasonable bargaining position. As a grouop we decided to hold another meeting outside the Govenor's office again next week on July 22nd at 12:15 pm.  We have seen the participation douple in the two weeks that we have come to the Govenor's office to deliver a message. Let's see if we can double the crowd again. Urge your coworkers to mark July 22nd at 12:15 pm on their calendars. Let them know now is the time to act. Let's come togeather in front of the State Library Building stand togeather for a fair contract!
 
There will of course be an update with the latest news from the July 21st bargaining session between the Union's bargaining team and the State's bargaining team.
 
As you know the union's message hasn't changed, the message is: "We are still here,  we will remain united, and  we are committed to providing the best services that we can. WE ARE WILLING TO DO OUR PART TO SETTLE A FAIR CONTRACT!" 
 
Make sure your coworkers know about this short notice gathering.
Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

There was a brief bargaining update today. The highlights are:

  • We can cover the legislature's budgeted cuts with furlough only.
    • They said 8 furlough days.
    • Each furlough day saves over $4 Million.
  • The Governor appears set on taking our step increases as well.
  • We need to call the Governor as often as possible and let him know that we want him to give us a fair deal. We're doing our part, as specified by the legislature's budget.

A couple extra notes about this...

First, the 8 furlough days looks like it's 8-per-year. The way they spoke, it was 8 total, but the math doesn't add up. If you take 8 days x $4 Million, you get $32 Million saved. We need to cut $65 Million. So 8 days per year would be right on the money.

Second, don't forget to call the Governor! The number is 503-378-4582.

And finally, and I think the most important, get involved! You don't have to be a staunch Union supporter. You don't even have to like the Union. Even though bargaining our collective bargaining agreement is part of the Union's activities, what the Governor is trying to do affects our livelihood! Ted stabbed the public employees in the back the first time he was elected. He was the lesser-of-two-evils in the last election. Don't let him bend-us-over-the-barrell this time. You know he's just sucking up to Big Business so he can get a lucrative job when his term is over.

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

The latest DAS bargaining news:


Legislative leaders have written to us and Governor Kulongoski [letter attached above] reiterating that savings from changes to state employee compensation do not need to total more than $65 million to balance the budget. Clearly, based on the latest proposal from the state during the bargaining sessions Monday and Tuesday, the Governor and his negotiators have not gotten the message.

The state continues to demand up to 22 days of mandatory unpaid time off (aka furloughs) and no guaranteed step increases. This proposal would save nearly double the target set to balance the budget, asking state workers not only to absorb our fair share of the budget shortfall but just about everyone else's, too! It is unfair, unreasonable and unnecessary.

We worked hard getting a budget passed that ensures front line workers will not have to shoulder the burden of the economic downturn alone. Now we have to turn our focus to the Governor. Governor Kulongoski needs to do his job, use the road map to a fair settlement that the legislature has provided. His negotiators shrug off the budget note set by the legislature calling for no more than $65 million in savings from front line workers. They are insisting on far deeper cuts when there is no good reason that they or anyone else can articulate for making valued state workers pay more than our fair share.

We have been willing to step up and be a part of the solution from the start of negotiations, but we expect equity: a fair contract that protects step increases and calls for no more furlough days than are actually necessary. We need to get this message to the Governor often and loudly. Have everyone you know call the Governor at 503.378.4582 today. And see your organizer or steward for postcards you can have friends and relatives mail to the Governor.

The DAS Bargaining Team is extremely appreciative of the support we received from a large contingent of Salem-area members who converged on the union hall after work Tuesday and set up a loud and enthusiastic informational picket line to inform drive-time motorists heading south along Commercial Street. Thanks, too, to the union members across the state who held unity breaks and other actions!

Bargaining is scheduled again for Tuesday July 21, Monday July 27 and Tuesday, July 28.
 

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

And for our OUS members, they're getting even better treatment than the DAS folks. Their management is insisting on as many furlough days as they want, whenever they want! The only thing they'll give is that you won't have to take more than 14 furlough days in a row! Isn't that special!?!

Fortunately, there's still some links between OUS and the DAS Central Table. Part of their proposal appears to be illegal, so SEIU 503 has filed another unfair labor practice about it. I think one of our Directors summed it up best when they asked (as a commentary), "Don't they have a law school down there in Eugene?" Indeed they do!

I don't know about you, but if these are the people running our "higher education" system, I pity the students. How can they possibly get a worthwhile education when the people running the show appear to have all the intelligence I attribute to <insert your favorite inanimate object here>.

 

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

Maybe the Governor is a graduate of our fine higher education system. That would certainly explain his inability to do simple math!

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

The latest DAS update. This was sent out today, but I received word of some of the details yesterday. Sorry I didn't get a chance to post it then.


The pressure we're putting on the Governor is having a real effect. We are not there yet, but we are pleased to report the most significant movement on economic issues since central bargaining began.

On steps, in response to our worksite actions, phone calls to the governor, and demonstrations across Oregon, the State has finally blinked. Instead of a two-year step freeze, DAS negotiators proposed a one-year step freeze, from 9/1/09 to 8/31/10. After that date, regular step increases -- including the new tenth step -- would resume. Under the State's proposal, employees who get step increases in July and August of 2009 would have those steps rolled back on 9/1/09, then restored on 9/1/10.  The bottom line is that under the State's new proposal, all employees, including those currently topped out, would receive one step during the two-year contract. While clearly not as appealing as keeping both steps, this proposal represents a major advance in bargaining.

On furloughs, the State's new proposal includes two scenarios depending on how much money Oregon has in its reserve accounts at the start of the second year. In the better case, we would taker 10, 12 or 14 unpaid days over two years depending on pay level, with most members in the latter two categories. In the worse case, the number of furlough days would rise to 10, 16 and 18 depending on pay level. This is a significant improvement over the State's previous proposal, which would have required some workers to take as many as 22 unpaid furlough days.

In response, our SEIU bargaining team stressed two goals. We said we would agree to a one-year step freeze, provided that everyone who loses a step during that freeze gets an extra step on June 1, 2011, one month before the contract ends. In an effort to compromise, we also increased the number of unpaid furlough days in our proposal to eight or 12 days, depending on pay levels, but without any linkage to the condition of the State's reserve accounts.

Through the mediator, the State informed us that it intends to declare impasse this week, probably on Wednesday. This declaration comes not because the two sides are really at an impasse -- clearly we aren't -- but as a ploy to restart the clock on the Governor's ability to abandon bargaining and dictate terms of a settlement by imposing his final offer.

While we are encouraged that the State's latest offer represents real progress, it still falls short of our goals. We will continue to push for a contract that protects steps and minimizes furlough days to the greatest possible extent.

To make that happen, we must keep the pressure on, calling the Governor's office at 503.378.4582, distributing postcards to family members and friends to mail, and planning our massive statewide day of informational picketing on Wednesday, August 5.

 

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

I'm going to claim partial credit for all of this as well. After all, you'll notice that they didn't budge until I brought up the Governor's seeming education at the hands of our less-than-qualified Higher Education executives. I was wondering who's been browsing the site from the State Capitol.

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

And some news coverage from the Oregonian. This particular copy was sent out by a member of the Board of Directors and includes some comments (in red):


Governor declares impasse in negotiations with unions

by Melissa Repko; The Oregonian
Wednesday July 22, 2009, 6:39 PM

Gov. Ted Kulongoski declared an impasse over negotiations with state unions on Wednesday, starting the clock for 37 days until he can legally dictate state workers' pay.  She is referring to the Governor being able to impose a contract. 

The Oregon Legislature passed a state budget that requires $130 million in general fund reductions for the 2009-2011 biennium. In a budget note, the Legislature estimated that about half -- $65 million -- would come from reducing state workers' compensation. But the governor aims to save $100 million.

While labor leaders say the two sides have agreed on no cost of living increases and a small decrease in health insurance benefits, this is not true we have not agreed to any decrease in health care benefits they have remained at odds on pay freezes and the number of unpaid furlough days that employees must take.

In response to the dispute, House Speaker Dave Hunt and Senate President Peter Courtney wrote a letter to the governor and union leaders earlier this month. In the letter, Courtney and Hunt said they expect other cuts will cover "at least half of the $130 million in reductions," but acknowledged, "the limited role that the Legislature plays in the collective bargaining process."  In bargaining on Monday Eva Corbin the state's lead negotiator said "They put in the weasel words." 

Though negotiations on Monday and Tuesday were promising, according to Leslie Frane, executive director of Service Employees International Union Local 500, the impasse "changes the tenor of negotiations."

"It's fair to say we've made progress in negotiations and we are closer to a settlement than we were a month ago," Frane said. But she called the declaration "the nuclear option for labor relations."

SEIU is the largest union in the negotiations, representing approximately 22,000 state workers who would be affected.

Anna Richter Taylor, the governor's spokeswoman, said that the governor's goal is to preserve jobs and apply cuts fairly.

"The governor recognizes that this is a very difficult time," she said, "and he realizes that state workers are being asked to do more at a time when there is a very difficult budget."

Richter Taylor said that the governor seeks a plan similar to the one he implemented for management and non-represented employees. That plan freezes pay and requires a number of furlough days specified by salary level. Workers with lower wages will take fewer furlough days.

Under state law, once an impasse is declared, the unions and management representatives have a week to negotiate. If they fail to reach agreement, a 30 day "cooling off" period follows. Then, the governor can implement his final offer.  And if he tries to do that we will ask the membership how they want to respond.

Frane said that the governor's representatives wanted to tie the number of furlough days to state revenues, raising the number if the economy gets worse. The unions want the number to be fixed, she said.  We do not trust the governor or the state to treat us fairly and think that their goal is to get us to agree to more furlough days and then hope that the state will not make us do them all. 

Whether workers will get wage increases for pay steps over the next two years is also under discussion.   The state's bargaining team has said that everyone will get one step in the second year of the contract. 

Negotiations will continue on Monday and Tuesday.  SEIU and AFSCME leadership meet with the governor's office tonight and we think they are going to tell us what their best offer will be and when we meet on Monday we will decide our next steps.

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

There's another important lie from the Governor's office, at least for the public agencies.

Richter Taylor said that the governor seeks a plan similar to the one he implemented for management and non-represented employees.

The so-called plan was only extended from July 1st through August 30th. Once we hit September 1st, all bets are off. After the Governor imposes a "contract" on the represented folks, he's free to do whatever he wants for the rest of the people. 

The-lesser-of-two-evils is on his way out. What does he have to lose by putting out some sort of sweetheart deal for managers? Or maybe just those poor, underpaid, can't-get-by-without-their superior guidance, executive management. You remember them, the 2000+ managers that got up to a 26% raise right after our last contract. Plus they got everything else the represented folks got.

I just wonder whose offered Ted a high-paying job when he gets out of office? Maybe he'll be working for Loren Parks!

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

A more accurate article from the Statesman Journal


State, union contract talks go forward

Negotiators say they are near deal on furloughs, wages

July 24, 2009

By Dennis Thompson Jr. . Statesman Journal . July 24, 2009

Both sides in contract talks with Oregon's largest state workers union say they are getting close to a final agreement.

 

State negotiators earlier this week lowered Gov. Ted Kulongoski's demands regarding furlough days and wage freezes for employees represented by Service Employees International Union Local 503, a move that union leaders called a promising sign.

"They made some movement in our direction, which we're encouraged about," said Kermit Meling, a Department of Transportation motor carrier enforcement officer and the chairman of SEIU's central table bargaining team. "It's not all the way there, but we're very close."

The concessions came during contract talks Tuesday. The next day, Kulongoski declared an impasse in negotiations, starting a timeline that could allow him to unilaterally impose the state's latest contract offer in early September if an agreement isn't reached.

Kulongoski spokeswoman Anna Richter Taylor agreed that an agreement is looking more likely and said the impasse was declared to show the governor's determination to get the deal done soon.

"We've been negotiating since early this year," she said. "The governor wanted to see a final agreement by the end of the fiscal year. That couldn't be reached. We're getting close now, and he hopes we'll get there sooner rather than later."

Meling shrugged off the impasse declaration, noting that contract talks will continue.

"I don't read much into it," he said. "We expected it, because if we don't get where we want to go, they can implement on September 1."

The latest offer from the state to SEIU employees, who comprise roughly half the state's unionized work force:

-Reduces the governor's demand regarding furlough days. Kulongoski now wants employees to agree to take 10 to 18 furlough days, depending on how much money they make. He initially had asked the union to agree to 24 furlough days for its members.

The governor also has offered to reduce the number of furlough days to 10 to 14 if Oregon's reserve accounts are flush with cash at the beginning of the second fiscal year in the 2009-11 biennium.

"If the budget allows, we would go back and cancel some of those days to restore services," Richter Taylor said.

-Scales back a step-increase freeze that Kulongoski had called for. Rather than eliminating a step increase that employees just received this month, the governor now wants to roll it back until September 2010.

The union's current position calls for eight to 12 furlough days for all employees, depending on pay levels, SEIU Executive Director Leslie Frane said.

The union has agreed to delay the current step increase until September 2010 but would like the governor to commit to a second step increase that would be implemented just before the end of the biennium.

Contract talks will continue Monday and Tuesday.

The governor already declared an impasse once in the state's negotiations with the SEIU but rescinded the declaration in June and allowed talks to continue.

State officials said the impasse was rescinded to allow contract talks to continue on several key issues. Union leaders said the state reversed course because it got caught in a technical matter that would have impeded its ability to implement its final offer.

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

Be sure to read about the DAS coalition tentative agreement.

Scott's picture

Re: July Bargaining Update

While DAS workers have their tentative agreement, OUS isn't as fortunate. While they are covered under the DAS agreement regarding health insurance and cost of living adjustments (COLA), their management is still after unlimited furlough days and apparently whatever else they think they can slip in.

So as DAS moves towards a ratification vote, OUS bargaining moves into mediation starting on the 7th of August.

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