**Vote on Wednesday, October 24th between 7am-6:30pm in the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library’s Board Room**
Everyone is being asked to make a decision tomorrow that some may find difficult and I wanted to share a little bit about why I plan to vote yes.
If you look back to the Bottom Line #1, we went from the stipend being entirely deleted as mere housekeeping, to the tentative agreement we vote on tomorrow in which the stipend has been funded in perpetuity through our wages (it will also now count toward PERS). We came such a long way with the City considering the many cuts they initially presented to us, such as 90/10 premium payments and employee premium cost pick ups if the cost of health insurance went up more than 5% in a year (sometimes insurance renewal can be 18%!). We fought hard, we put on pressure, and, in the end, we saw a lot of give.
Many have correctly pointed out that the new agreement puts our part-timers at a loss; many part-timers will not fully make up the cost of the stipend with the .48 wage increase. I’m not happy about this, but I know the Local will work to find a solution in the meantime. There are a number of creative things we could do to help ensure part-timers do not lose out in year 4 (2020) when the wage increases take effect.
To be honest, though, the main reason I’m voting yes is because I do not think we are prepared to do what it takes to strike and, after sitting at that negotiations/mediation table, I think that a strike is what it would take to get something better. While I am incredibly proud of the solidarity we showed at events such as the October 15th City Council meeting, only about 50 turned up, many of which were not actual members; it would be generous to say that 25% of our membership was there on that crucial day. A strike is real work. We can’t just keep calling City Council and Mark Shepard, we’d need to shut City services down. We’d need you to hold a sign all day. We’d need you to sacrifice wages and time spent with your family.
Tonight at the informational meeting I found others felt similarly about the overall union’s resolve to strike. But, I was relieved to hear many be adamant that we must come together and be strong for the future, if we intend to not see cuts on our next contract. This Local has come so far over the last several months and we have some real rock stars to thank for that. These people cannot do it alone! We all have to come together or we have no power! Please offer your help or simply attend a membership meeting. We’re going to find ourselves in the exact same situation in the future if we don’t take this as a wake up call.
If you are planning to vote no, please be willing to join the fight. Please do not vote no and expect other people to fight for you – that is not what solidarity looks like.
But, no matter how you plan to vote, I really hope you come out and vote tomorrow. We’re nothing without your voice.