AFSCME Local 328 - OHSU Employees
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  • The Real Reason Parking Rates Keep Rising
    Updated On: Jul 18, 2013

    The following article was written by and shared with us courtesy of Oregon Nurses Association staff representative Courtney Niebel. ONA is currently in the midst of contract bargaining with OHSU. AFSCME Local 328 shares these concerns about parking at OHSU. 

    AFSCME members who have questions or concerns about parking on the hill are invited to email Chief Steward Mike Bandy, Local 328s representative on OHSUs Strategic Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee, at


    Union members of the Strategic Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee expressed outrage at the recent STPAC meeting, that employees of OHSU are being charged higher and higher fees for parking and transportation. We vehemently expressed the view to the committee that OHSU should not be taking philanthropic donations from the community to build new facilities, then demanding employees fund the buildings’ parking structures from their paychecks.


    Members of STPAC are almost unanimously in agreement that parking fees are too high due to OHSU’s business practices, and understand that the Transportation & Parking Department has no viable alternative given the budget constraints placed on it. They are seeking a more sustainable financial solution, hopefully sparing OHSU employees from a seemingly endless burden of rising fees. We feel it is time for OHSU to shed itself of the old “company store” model of doing business. Current employees should not have to pay to build new parking structures that OHSU is going to use to charge future employees even more money to park in!


    The Real Reason Rates Keep Rising


    As you know, OHSU’s T&P recently announced a significant increase in parking rates, which went into effect on July 1. We’re used to a modest rise in parking rates annually that seemed to be on par with the cost of inflation, but this year we are seeing dramatic increases in the cost of some passes. Why such a high increase this year? The revenue targets given to T&P by the institution were higher than in previous years, and this is the only way for them to increase revenues.


    The real problem is that the funding structure OHSU has imposed on the T&P is not sustainable. T&P is considered a revenue-generating department by the institution, which means that they are required to bring in enough revenues to cover operations. T&P has no control regarding which operations they must take on. For example, when OHSU decided to construct the new Collaborative Life Sciences Building on the waterfront, T&P was told that they would need to pay for the construction of the parking structure. When T&P receives a mandate to expend funds to pay for OHSU’s growing need for parking spaces their only option is to raise parking rates for employees and students because that is their only source of income.


    This is a structure that many members of the STPAC feel is unsustainable and unfair. While many other universities have a similar funding structure for their parking departments, there are few universities with the unique challenges that OHSU’s location poses and it is doubtful that other parking departments are responsible for the construction of new lots in addition to the conventional expenses such as maintenance, attendants and so on. We know that our parking rates fall in between the rates for the University of California San Francisco Medical Center (Sunset/Twin Peaks) and the New York University Langone Medical Center (Manhattan) as the highest in the nation. Given the cost of living, transportation options and income for employees at those university medical centers, it is shocking that we would be expected to pay similar rates to park at OHSU in a much less congested environment.


    The fact that T&P is labeled a revenue-generating department by OHSU requires them to contribute to the overhead cost allocation fund that pays for information technology, marketing, facilities and human resources, among other university-wide services. All revenue-generating departments are expected to pay into the OCA fund to assist with the funding of those departments that do not generate revenue but assist with the operations throughout the university. This might make sense if T&P had other income sources besides charging employees. Instead, employee fees are being diverted to share in OHSU’s cost of doing business.


    Over the next five months, Skai Dancey, Director of Facilities and Transportation, will be discussing with the Financial Officers Group the need for transparency and sustainability in the T&P funding structure. ONA hopes that these discussions will result in the decision to alter the funding structure to support the work that T&P does without pushing the cost onto the backs of the employees at OHSU.


    The funding structure at OHSU dictates that T&P is responsible for several costs that we question. T&P carries debt and depreciation for building and maintenance of parking lots, and loses money whenever unexpected construction needs to be done or Sam Jackson Park Road is closed, and has no control over any of these expenses. So why does OHSU continue to consider T&P a revenue-generating department and defer the cost of doing business to their employees?


    Parking as a Diversity & Equity Inhibitor


    The current funding model that T&P is forced to live under raises several concerns regarding OHSU’s stated intent of supporting and sustaining a diverse and inclusive learning, living and working environment. Since 2000, Portland’s central city has grown less diverse while the state and metro area has grown more diverse. This is of great concern considering that employees are expected to pay the high rates of parking at OHSU. While OHSU states that it is committed to removing barriers to having a diverse employee population, this is difficult to sustain when diverse populations find it harder and harder to get to work at OHSU.


    OHSU offers department parking passes, which are often offered as employment incentives to certain employees such as doctors, professors and critical research staff. Other employees who are not offered a parking pass as an employment incentive are disadvantaged and may find it difficult to accept a position as an employee at OHSU. Given that population demographics show that Portland’s diversity is moving farther away from the central city, diverse employees may have an increased challenge when considering employment at OHSU. Many staff work in departments that are at the lower end of the wage scale for OHSU employees. This is a disincentive for diversity at OHSU and should be addressed as a barrier to OHSU’s goal for a diverse and inclusive environment for employees and students.

    President Joe Robertson, in a recent Directline message referenced OHSU’s 2013 Diversity Action Plan that states: “Diversity is key to maintaining a competitive workforce advantage. Integrating diversity within all areas of the university and all parts of our mission is critical to OHSU’s strategic goal of being a great organization, diverse in people and ideas.”


    In order for OHSU to fully realize this strategic goal, we believe it is imperative that they remove one of the largest barriers to recruitment of diverse employees: the ever-increasing cost of parking. The cost of parking at OHSU unfairly burdens diverse prospective employees because they typically live farther away from the university. Given that many employees work in the lower-wage-earning departments of OHSU, they are doubly burdened by the cost of parking because they must pay a larger portion of their income in order to park at OHSU. Those who choose not to purchase a parking pass and take public transportation instead are further burdened by the distance to travel to OHSU for work. The time spent traveling, especially if added to a 12-hour workday, is a major inconvenience for employees.


    We urge the institution to consider altering the funding structure of the T&P because it is the right thing to do for all employees of OHSU. The current funding structure is not sustainable and does not serve the stated goals of the organization.


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