Our contract expires on August 31, 2019. If administration doesn’t agree to the Federation bargaining team’s fair and reasonable suggestions by September 1, our Federation will be working without a contract. This means we’ll continue to work under the expired contract’s provisions. Working without a contract can be stressful but it is not unusual. We did it for 73 days in 2015. We will certainly share more information if it comes to that, but for now I’d like to tell you one benefit of working without a contract: it releases us from the no-strike clause, giving us significantly more leverage at the bargaining table.
We’ve been getting questions from members about where things stand, so here is a quick summary:
- The bargaining platform was developed with member feedback beginning in Fall 2018. Federation leadership asked for your input via surveys, campus and center meetings, and countless in-person and email conversations. The platform guides all of our proposals and conversations with management.
- We are five months into bargaining non-economic issues and we are preparing to begin the economic portion of bargaining, where we negotiate wages and benefits. (The reason we wait to discuss monetary issues is that the state budget for community colleges is not known until late June.)
- Progress on non-economic issues has been frustratingly slow, and threatens to delay economic negotiations. Administration may be trying to run out the clock on some of these issues.
You can read through the previous bagaining updates to see that we’ve reached tentative agreements on a handful of relatively minor issues, but when it comes to the issues that are of highest priority to our members, administration has been slower to respond. For instance, our proposal to extend the AP Leave Bank to cover caregiving was presented on March 29, and in each subsequent session they tell us that they are still researching the issue. The same could be said about a number of other issues and proposals.
Here’s the good news: The state budget for community colleges came in higher than expected. We suspect the administration is busy moving the goalposts, so that they can present this good news in a more dire light, along with a host of reasons the college can’t afford a reasonable COLA (cost of living adjustment) among other things. We need your help to keep the pressure on administration – both to settle with us on non-economic issues, and to ensure a fair and reasonable economic package that helps members keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living in the Portland metro area.
We recently packed the negotiations room with over 30 members who were observers. It made a difference. Please consider attending a bargaining session. The next one is this Friday, August 2–and we’ve added many dates to our calendar. The more the administration knows you are paying attention and want the contract settled, the faster we will get there. The best way to tell them that is by showing up.
And please continue to be in touch regarding your questions and concerns around bargaining.