What is Bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the process by which we will negotiate a contract (also known as a “collective bargaining agreement” or “CBA”) with the university. The collective bargaining agreement is a legally binding document that sets some baselines or minimum standards for our work. This is a distinct document from any individual offer letter you might receive for your position, except that going forward, any offers made to research staff would have to meet or exceed the standards set forth in the CBA.

What can go into the contract?

Within the bounds of the law, we can make proposals about any topic related to the terms and conditions of our employment. Common topics found in CBAs include wages, benefits, time off, safety standards and monitoring, job security, layoff/recall language, bonuses, leaves of absence, and more. Importantly, it will be us and our fellow employees who decided what to make proposals about and what those proposals should look like.

How does the process work?

Once we win our union, we’ll choose a bargaining team made up of our colleagues from across OHSU. Typically this is done by election, with a careful effort to ensure that there is a representative slate of nominees from across the workplace. Once elected, the bargaining team typically circuclates a survey to find out which issues are most important to which groups of our coworkers. With the assistance and advice of experienced AFSCME staff, the bargaining team will craft proposals on these topics. Management, meanwhile, will choose its own bargaining team and begin the process of drafting proposals.

The two sides with then begin meeting to exchange proposals, make arguments, share information, and generally negotiate. Our team will go to the table with experienced union staff who have a history of bargaining contracts. Once both sides have reached agreement on a topic, it becomes part of a “tentative agreement,” and once all topics have reached tentative agreement, we will get to vote on whether to approve the agreement or send our team back to the table to continue negotiations.

Throughout this process, the bargaining team will issue updates on the status of bargaining and provide opportunities for the general membership to give feedback and suggestions.

What rules will govern our work while negotiations are ongoing?

Legally, the status quo must continue during bargaining. The employer may not, for example, drastically reduce our PTO and then make us bargain to get it back. The current state of things is the starting point for all bargaining topics.

Where can I find updates on the process once it starts?

Right here! In addition to sharing updates via email, we’ll post bargaining updates on this website once the process begins.