Welcome to the first issue of The Bottom Line, our Local’s contract negotiations newsletter! This issue provides an introduction to the people, process, and issues that will be touched on as our new contract is negotiated.

Who’s Who:

Team AFSCME: AFSCME’s negotiation team is made up of volunteers from our bargaining unit, plus a professional lead negotiator from Oregon AFSCME (your union dues at work!). The negotiation team was selected by AFSCME President Carlos Lopez (Public Works). It includes:

    • Adam Womack and Tim Bates (Public Works)
    • Bonnie Brzozowski (Library)
    • Luke Cotton (IT)
    • Natalie Summerlin (Parks & Recreation)
    • Alternates: Jon Pywell (Parks & Recreation) and Shilo Anway (Public Works)
    • Oregon AFSCME Lead Negotiator: Antonio Gisbert (provided at no additional cost to us)

City Management Team: Members of management’s negotiation team include Mary Beth Altmann-Hughes (Human Resources), Nancy Brewer (Finance) Ashlee Chavez (Library), Mary Steckel and Chad Gordon (Public Works), and Jude Geist (Parks & Recreation). The City has chosen to hire Todd Lyons, an outside lawyer specializing in providing “pro-management labor solutions” to serve as their lead negotiator.

When are the negotiation sessions?

The first session was on February 27 and the second was held on March 21 (more details on these sessions below). April’s sessions will be held on April 18 and April 27. We’ll notify you as more sessions are added.

What’s happened so far at the negotiation table?

February 27: Ground rules were developed to set out to establish clear expectations regarding communication and bargaining in good faith.

March 21: Team AFSCME presented our first ten proposals. Major highlights of our proposals:

  • Increase the floating holiday hours to 16 hours per fiscal year.
  • Increase the maximum amount of compensatory time that can be accrued.
  • Add the deaths of a niece or nephew to the eligible family member list for bereavement leave.
  • Allow us to donate vacation and comp time (as well as our sick leave) to another employee in need.
  • Expand respectful workplace to include examples of prohibited disrespectful behaviors, and explicitly state your right to file a union grievance about these behaviors.
  • Speed up the grievance process by removing two steps (combines the supervisor and departmental director steps into one, and eliminating mediation as an option).
  • Preference given to qualified AFSCME employees over casual staff in hiring for AFSCME-represented positions.
  • If four or more AFSCME employees apply for an AFSCME-represented position, one of those AFSCME applicants will be hired.
  • If you move to a different AFSCME-represented position, you only serve a 3 month probationary period (vs. 1 year).
  • Require the City to have a good reason to require a doctor’s excuse for the use of sick leave.
  • Make it clear that callback and standby duty are voluntary except during a declared emergency.
  • Require a written training plan and a year to obtain City-required licenses and clearances.
  • City pays the full cost of required protective footwear every year (currently, the City pays only 50% every two years).
  • Clarify what information the City provides to us about our members.
  • Add AFSCME participation to the new employee orientation sessions.
  • Clearly define federal and state protected employment classes.

After our presentation, it was Management’s turn. To our surprise, they only presented one proposal: a copy of the entire contract with “housekeeping” items. Housekeeping proposals are typically minor error and grammatical corrections; however, the deletion of the medical stipend language was included as “housekeeping”. It seems obvious to Team AFSCME that this is NOT a housekeeping item; it is something that must be bargained fully, not just included in a mass checklist of changes.

Another surprise: for the first time in memory, Management plans to hold off on providing their substantive proposals to us AND they do not plan to respond to the proposals we have provided until they have received ALL of our proposals. Since the last day to submit proposals is April 27, we are baffled by their stance. Past practice has been for BOTH sides to provide proposals and actually bargain contract language from the start of negotiations. April 27 is over a month away, and there is a lot that we could get through in that time. Today’s session ended hours earlier than it would have if Management had held to the past practice. If they refuse to budge on this, it is a troubling signal about their willingness to work with us in the true spirit of fairness that would lead to a timely conclusion to our negotiations.

Help Wanted

It seems Management may have forgotten that Team AFSCME is not just a few individuals instead of representatives of a proud union family 220+ people strong. Let’s remind them! Over the next few weeks, our Action Team may be reaching out to you with fun and easy ways for you to help Management remember that Team AFSCME isn’t alone and that when we speak, we speak with a LOUD voice.

BTW, the Action Team can always use more people to help plan the shenanigans! It’s a fun way to meet more Corvallis AFSCME people. Child care can be made available during Action Team meetings at no cost to you as well. Contact RuthRose Hennessey at hennesseyre3@gmail.com and volunteer!


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