5/8/19 - Strikes, Pickets, and Demonstrations

Hello fellow scientists!

Today, Uber and Lyft drivers across the country are on strike to protest their working conditions, which involve long hours, low pay, and virtually no benefits because they are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. This struggle is not too different from our own fight to be recognized as employees; they even have their own version of our 1099 vs. W-2 tax issue. In solidarity with the drivers, please don’t use Uber or Lyft today!

As I mentioned last week, our ‘older sibling union’ AFSCME Local 328 is also in the process of bargaining their contract. Just like with Graduate Researchers United, OHSU Management is dragging the process out by providing their counter-proposals at a glacial pace compared with Union proposal submission. Here’s a picture of two stacks of paper and I’ll let you decide what they represent.

Local 328 is fed up and is organizing an informational picket.

What’s a Picket? Is That Like a Strike?

Pickets and strikes are related but not the same thing. Strikes are more about what you’re not doing (your work), whereas pickets are about taking action.

Picket – A group demonstration by workers against their employer. They usually involve signs, chants, and assembling outside the workplace.

Strike – Workers stop performing their duties in a demonstration. Legal strikes can only occur during contract negotiations unless the contract says otherwise. Striking workers may form a picket line preventing people from entering their workplace. If you cross a picket line, I can’t say for sure but you may be reincarnated as Hirudo medicinalis.

Wildcat Strike – An illegal strike which occurs when a contract is in place prohibiting it.

Slowdown – Workers technically are not on strike but work…very…slowly as a demonstration. These are usually prohibited by contract language.

Work to Rule – For workers who are continuously asked to do work beyond their written job description, workers limit their work to only what they are required to do in their contract. By definition this action is always legal.

Lockout – The opposite of a strike, when Management prevents union members from working.

So What Happened on May 2?

Here’s What the Union Proposed

Leaves of Absence – Time taken off work beyond sick and vacation leave.

Discipline and Discharge – Outlines when and how supervisors can take actions against graduate researchers.

Counter-Proposal to Zipper Clause – The Union is pushing for advance notice of changes to academic policy which may affect its members.

Counter-Proposal to Union Use of Facilities – Describes the Union’s ability to hold meetings and post information.

Counter-Proposal to Grievance and Arbitration – Improves upon existing academic policy.

Supposal to Employment Practices and Procedures – A non-binding descriptive rationale for the various points outlined in the job description section.

Here’s How Management Responded

Management rejected the Successor Clause article on the grounds that the protections it offers are already present in Oregon state law. Management rejected the Past Practices article on the grounds that they didn’t like it. Management will pass along the Supposal on Employment Practices and Procedures to their Faculty Advisory Team for review. The Union Use of Facilities article went back and forth several times in the session as the teams hone in on which costs for meeting space and bulletin boards will be covered by the Union or by OHSU. Management provided a counter-proposal to Dues Check-Off.

Tentative Agreements

The Union and Management teams finally reached a tentative agreement for the bargaining Ground Rules, which currently contain no provisions about visitors. The Union still believes that bargaining sessions are open to the public by default, and Management still believes that they are closed to anyone not on the bargaining team (but will graciously allow a few quiet visitors). So really it’s more of a Tentative Agree-to-Disagreement. The Union team agreed that the Successor Clause is not necessary and withdrew it. The Union team also withdrew the Past Practices article but will be including the content as part of a different article.

Action and Events

Research Week – Next week is research week at OHSU! Keep your eye out for Graduate Researchers United!

Contract Action Team (CAT) Meetings - CAT meetings are held every Monday from 5:00-6:00 in BRB381. Come to a meeting to share your thoughts on the union, organize actions, write contract language, and build union infrastructure. Dinner is provided by AFSCME!

Do you want to come to a meeting but this time or location just doesn’t work for you? Reply to this email and let’s work together to find a way to get you involved!

Bargaining Sessions – Bargaining sessions are typically 9:00-2:00 on Thursdays in the School of Nursing. The next session will be tomorrow 9:00-2:00 in SoN 116. Come support your bargaining team!

Local 328 Picket – Local 328 has invited GRU to join their picket asking for good-faith bargaining from OHSU Management. The picket will take place on June 13, and I’ll keep you all posted as more details emerge.

Get Involved Remotely – Our contract is written collaboratively on Google Drive, which you can access and participate in via the GRU Slack. You can also stay up to date by following the union on TwitterInstagramFacebook, or our Website.

Better Know Some Bargainers – the Management Team

I refer to the Management team here collectively, but who am I talking about? Here’s who we sit across from during bargaining:

Wes Phillips – Human Resources representative and official bargaining note-taker

Rick Goranflo – Office of the Dean, School of Medicine

Anna Teske – Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Program Approval & Policy at OHSU

Darryl Walker – A member of OHSU’s in-house counsel

Dan Forbes – OHSU Vice President of Human Resources

Jeff Chicoine – OHSU’s outside counsel hired especially for this bargaining process. Mr. Chicoine is the lead negotiator for the Management team. To give you an overview of his perspective on unions in his own words, here is an excerpt from his website:

You may have noticed that I’m all out of bargainers to profile now. Don’t worry, I have a plan for this segment that I am very excited about. Until next time…

Science and Solidarity,

-        Graduate Researchers United