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About Northwest labor press. (Portland , Ore.) 1987-current | View Entire Issue (July 6, 2006)
...Three union contracts ratified
(From Page 1)
$300 bonus. But they’ll get no step in-
creases during the life of the contract.
The unit had been without a con-
tract since June 30, 2005. The new
two-year agreement runs through June
Most classifications now will range
from $10.50 to $19 an hour; most
members in the unit earn about $13 an
hour. As with the cafeteria workers,
PPS’ health benefit contribution cap
was raised to $779 a month.
“It was as good as we could get un-
der the circumstances,” Hornstein said.
PPS didn’t give the union any wage
proposal until bargaining had been un-
der way six months, and its starting of-
fer was zero percent.
Two groups of workers have yet to
negotiate new contracts with the dis-
trict: The 16-union District Council of
Unions, which has been without a con-
tract since Dec. 31, 2005; and the
soon-to-be-reinstated custodians, who
will be represented by SEIU Local
DCU represents about 300 workers
in a variety of occupations and unions,
including maintenance, bus drivers
and mechanics. The first bargaining
sessions are scheduled this summer.
As for the custodians, they were
still waiting for the district’s offer of
reinstatement as of press time. The en-
tire custodial department, with 330
custodians, was terminated in a 2002
privatization. But the Oregon Supreme
Court ruled in December 2005 that
their termination was illegal.
Cathy Mincberg, PPS chief operat-
ing officer, said the district will have to
offer them reinstatement at their old
wages and benefits, and negotiate a
new union contract then with SEIU.
Mincberg said the district doesn’t be-
lieve any back pay is owed, however.
That issue will likely be settled in fed-
eral court, with Mark Griffin and one
other attorney representing custodians
in separate class action lawsuits.
Jim Coon, the attorney who won
the Oregon Supreme Court case, told a
PPS Board committee June 14 that
about half of the 330 terminated custo-
dians are interested in reinstatement.
The rest have gotten better jobs, re-
tired, become disabled, or died.
Mincberg said the district won’t be
able to afford the previous number of
custodians unless the Board increases
the custodial budget.
PPS’ janitorial contract with Port-
land Habilitation Center expires July
14; the district is seeking to extend it
month-to-month until the transition to
in-house custodians is complete.
Some have concluded from the re-
cent contract settlements that PPS is
embarking on a new era of labor
peace, and may be trying to bury the
hatchet before the November 2006
election, when it will ask local voters
to approve a property tax increase to
PPS spokesperson Bob Lawrence
agreed the coming election was a fac-
“A new positive relationship takes
time,” Lawrence said. “In our relation
with represented groups, the percep-
tion was we didn’t have a respectful
With the PAT agreement, for the
first time in years PPS broke its habit
of never signing a new union contract
until the old one was expired. The
agreement was signed with two weeks
remaining in the previous contract.
But the SEIU and AFT-Oregon
contracts weren’t completed until
nearly a year after the old ones ex-
pired. And the district’s negotiating be-
havior prompted SEIU to file legal
charges with the Oregon Employment
Toensmeier accused the district of
“bad faith bargaining,” after it took six
months of bargaining before the dis-
trict made any wage or benefit pro-
posal. SEIU’s case will go forward de-
spite the contract settlement.
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NORTHWEST LABOR PRESS
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