Many of the things you like about your job — wages, guaranteed raises, health-care insurance, vacations, holidays, good retirement benefits, job security — exist within, and are guaranteed to you, by the AFSCME Local 328 contract. And because these things are part of our union’s collective-bargaining agreement with OHSU, you can count on them year in and year out. However, like all good things, getting them and keeping them takes work.
Most of our contracts with OHSU last three or four years; when they are due to expire, they must be renegotiated. During this renegotiation period, OHSU can propose pretty much anything it wants, including reductions in or take-backs of your pay and benefits. In order to keep that from happening, our union must be able to bargain effectively and from a position of strength. Effective bargaining begins (but doesn’t end) with good member representation on the bargaining team.
What is “good” member representation? An effective bargaining-team member is someone who:
- Fundamentally supports the concept of strength through collective action
- Supports our union and our goals
- Is willing to meet and have open discussion with the members she or he represents
- Can effectively give and accept feedback
- Can work well in a close group for extended periods of time, under sometimes stressful conditions
- Can think creatively
- Can maintain confidentiality as needed
- Supports the concept of trying to reach agreements through consensus
- Can readily absorb and produce written communication
- Is willing to work long hours, sometimes as a volunteer
- Will support bargaining-related events and job actions with their presence and participation
More specifically, bargaining-team members must:
- Attend each of the scheduled pre-bargaining trainings
- Full-day trainings
- Starting in October, held monthly
- Attend each bargaining session with OHSU
- Full-day sessions, starting at 8:00 a.m.
- Starting in late February 2019, held weekly
- Attend longer mediation sessions during the final stages of bargaining
- May last 12 hours or loner
- May take place on multiple days during the same week
- Engage with coworkers and other members to communicate what’s happening in negotiations and to get feedback on proposals
- Research and study topics related to proposals and ideas
- Check and respond to email on a regular (most likely daily) basis
- Lead coworkers in worksite actions
- Participate in any bargaining-related rallies, petition drives or other solidarity actions.