As promised, here's a report on the Bargaining Conference that took place last Saturday, August 15th, 2009. There were a lot of familiar faces, and some new ones (to me).
The conference started at 9:00 AM with a welcome from SEIU Local 503 President Linda Burgin. She spoke about how the initial fast-track bargaining had served to involve the members and keep them involved for the entire bargaining session. She also mentioned that we came out of this with a, "fair contract in the worst economic times of our lives."
Next up was a Political Update by Jessica Stevens. This was mostly a recap of information that has been presented in multiple forums over the last few months. Some of the highlights included:
- We picked up a number of jobs
- Not all of these new jobs are permanent, or even funded for the entire biennium
- She covered some of the budget numbers (which I won't repeat here)
- Care providers are faced with flat funding
- Homecare providers are facing cuts
- We had multiple wins, and a few losses, in the Legislature. Some of the key items that helped were the corporate minimum tax and increased taxes on the wealthiest Oregonians.
- The upcoming YES campaign in January will set the direction for the state. This is the fight for tax fairness
- We need to concentrate on contacting Wyden and Schrader to support healthcare reform. Walden is completely anti-healthcare reform
Heather Conroy made a presentation on Building Power in our Worksites and Communities. Again, this was a recap of presentations over the last few months. A few snippets:
- We managed to stop the likes of Sizemore (and Mannix) in the last election. We need to work 365 days a year to keep what we have gained.
- The Governor said that teachers should work without pay. Heather asked, "Who should work without pay?" There were several people who responded, "The Governor should work without pay."
- 2700 members marched across the Hawthorne bridge
We then had two of our Legislators give short presentations. State Senator Margaret Carter spoke about healthcare and making the rich pay their fair share. Representative Michael Dembrow spoke about the importance of our work, helping elect leaders like Barack Obama, and the rhetoric of the opposition. He also encouraged everyone to consider running for the legislature.
Stronger Together featured two speakers: Kermit Meling, Chair of the Central Bargaining team, and Steve Sander from AFSCME. There were a few interesting points that hadn't necessarily been talked-to-death previously:
- They could tell that the DAS bargaining team was not in control
- The institutions barganer couldn't get the job done, so Eva Corbin had to go in to finish the job.
- This was the, "most genuine and cooperative effort between both unions." This was in reference to SEIU and AFSCME joining forces against the DAS bargainers and throwing them for a loop.
- The State had first-time bargainers, which made things even more difficult than they would have been.
I found the nicknames for the Governor and Leslie Frane to be amusing. Ted was referred to as, "Little Napolean." And Kermit shared the story of Leslie being referred to as a, "Trunk Monkey," for striking from nowhere at the opposition. She had never seen the commercials, so they had to show them to her. (If you haven't seen them, they should all be available over on trunkmonkey.com.)
We then had an overview of the Tentative Agreement. This included a unanimous recommendation for ratification by the bargaining delegates.
- Healthcare - increases paid up to 10% per year
- 5% paid straight up
- 5% paid by PEBB and other state agency funds
- Wages -
- No COLAs
- 10th step protected
- Furloughs -
- 10/12/14 days depending on salary
- All mandatory days on Fridays to give us long weekends
- Most days are in the longest months, reducing the amount of lost pay (slightly)
- Class study for some office and health care workers, with an actual due date of 1-Apr-2011. This is just in time for the next round of bargaining.
- Extended recall rights
Leslie compared the tentative agreement to the State's previous offerings. There was also brief mention of how bad some other states have it.
This was followed by Coalition updates from Karen Miller (DHS), Bill Kinyoun (ODOT), Trish Lutgen & Robert Sisk (Specials), and Randy Davis (Institutions). Not to give them short shrift, but compared the central bargaining concerns, there were mostly minor updates, although they can be significant for the specific areas. [If anyone wants these details we'll be glad to provide them.]
Then we went into overdrive covering the Next Steps in Bargaining. There was a huge push with regards to not letting our efforts to support OUS and the Care Providers diminish.
OUS is still going after 24 furlough days. They also want' contractual language to allow them to force as many furlough days as they want, but no more than 14 in-a-row. This goes along with a 2 year pay freeze, no 10th step, and refusing to bargain with all of the Higher Ed members. The Chancellor wants to bargain with the student recyclers separately. Two of the students who helped organize their joining made a brief speech as well.
You can call Chancellor Voldemort (another nickname I liked) at 541-346-5703. Let him know what you think of his complete and utter lack of bargaining in good faith.
The Care provider bargaining, while different for each segment, are all facing tough bargaining as well. There are wage cuts, a lack of healthcare, etc. One group (and I apologize for missing which one) has declared impasse.
A motion was made and seconded to allow all attendees to vote for the ratification. It carried unanimously.
This led up to the Open Mic. A number of people stood up and took their 2 minutes. Most spoke in favor of ratification, either for themselves, or for the groups they represented. A couple never actually got to a point. There were also a number of reservations and complaints regarding specifics of the tentative agreement. One good note came from this. SEIU and the State are working out an agreement that Management will be taking the same furlough days as represented staff, and they will not get credit for any furlough already taken.
And FINALLY, the vote! It was unanimous to send this off to the membership to vote on.
Honestly, it was anti-climatic. Everyone already knew it was going to pass. We just had to sit through the rest of the agenda to get to that point. And then it was over in about a minute. At least you can read this summary in minutes instead of spending several hours. Enjoy!