PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Talks between Oregon Health & Science University and thousands of union workers came to a standstill Tuesday after nearly six months of negotiations.
AFSCME Local 328, the union representing more than 7,400 OHSU employees, declared an impasse in negotiations with OHSU after an overwhelming majority of members voted.
The union offered a proposal on Friday which the university reportedly countered. Despite OHSU adding $16 million to its proposal, the union said employees’ concerns and priorities are still being undermined.
“While we appreciate the employer’s movement, we feel that OHSU hasn’t heard our members’ concerns and priorities and continues to propose solutions that address the wrong issues or don’t do enough to address the right issues,” said AFSCME Local 328.
OHSU also released a statement to KOIN 6 News, saying, in part, that OHSU and AFSCME have a “long-standing, cooperative relationship.”
“We have been bargaining since March toward an agreement on a new contract for our AFSCME-represented members who work to support OHSU’s public missions,” the statement read. “The OHSU bargaining team has made every effort to achieve a contract that reflects our shared goals of a safe, healthy and respectful working environment. Regardless of the latest declaration of impasse, the OHSU bargaining team will continue working with AFSCME toward a new contract. OHSU remains committed to establishing a fair contract that provides competitive, comprehensive benefits in recognition of all AFSCME members’ hard work.”
Now, the union and OHSU will have to present final offers by the end of the day on Wednesday, Sept. 7. This will be followed by a mandatory 30-day cooling-off period where the two teams will periodically meet for mediation.
Union members could legally strike after the 30 days if the bargaining team deems that option necessary. OHSU will have to be advised of the possible strike 10 days before it starts, however.