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Oregon Union Tracker (OUT): Volume 2
Salem-Keizer officials take negotiations private. Healthcare workers continue fight.
Before we get to our second installment of the Oregon Union Tracker (OUT), you should think about hauling your butt (and the rest of you) out this evening to support our educators.
Why should you support our Salem-Keizer educators?
Because district administration, led by new-ish superintendent Andrea Castaneda, are effectively turning the screws on the teacher’s union to increase pressure on coming to a negotiated contract agreement. Specifically, the district is doing two objectively shitty things:
Casteneda has embarked on a public relations campaign using distorted numbers to create public perception that Salem-Keizer teachers are asking for too much in contract negotiations. You can see her orchestrated PR efforts here, here and here.
District officials have exercised a mediation clause in contract talks that require negotiations to be hidden from union members (except the negotiation team) and the public. SKEA leadership was surprised by this move, as negotiations were not locked in standstill but rather progressing towards realistic cost-of-living increases in pay for already-underpaid educators.
Salem-Keizer Proletariat grew up in a union household. And when the strikes went on for longer periods of time, it was union folks at our door with groceries & supplies. Anyway, to receive new posts and support local journalism, consider becoming a paid subscriber.
Are both of those things allowed? Sure…
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t ethically dubious schemes to stifle the solidarity of workers we entrust to educate our children. Both maneuvers are especially concerning because they are designed to interfere with one of the most powerful ways workers organize - open & frequent communication.
In the face of these insidious moves, it becomes more important than ever to crank up the volume on the very communications efforts that help power organized labor.
Say, for example, this account from an SKEA member
Borrowed from the SKEA Facebook page; lightly edited for style; and emphasis added - here’s an account that Salem-Keizer district leaders like Castaneda are trying to distract from and suppress:
"I don't know a single teacher in the 3 school districts I've taught in that doesn't teach for the kids.
Not the pay.
Not the accolades.
Not the recognition.
Not the Summers (FYI, most teachers have a second stream of income in the summer or year long.)
We love kids and want to see them succeed in all areas of their life. We want them to be happy, loved, and safe at school.
I have seen a few friends share their struggles recently and it made me feel ready to share some hard truths - NOT to get acknowledgement but to bring awareness.
This has been the HARDEST start to a school year I've had in 17 years. There is a lot that comes with years of experience, but there are things we are facing now that many don't even know.
I can tell you that many children are coming to school with no social skills, no regulation skills, and no potty training skills. It's heartbreaking for them (and us) as we try to navigate how to not only teach but love and support each individual child.
This is not new...it's just worse.
All this while our district allows no accountability from home. Teachers and other students are being injured and cursed out daily, not just in high school but our littlest learners too. We are not supporting those with extreme needs how THEY need with programs specific to their needs. All while class sizes grow and the public is told how generous the district is with their "offers" during negotiations.
We all know how huge inflation is, and at this point, all Salem Keizer teachers went back this year with ZERO cost of living increase.
Please make sure you're getting the whole story. Personally I am not happy with how our new superintendent is sharing large $$$$$$ numbers with the public via social media... yet not explaining that amount is split between thousands of educators equaling very little individually.
It's time we start allowing our teachers to teach again and being supported to do so. It's heartbreaking the number of teachers leaving our profession or searching for another so that they can leave as soon as possible.
It's time to speak up and make a change.
The current status of our system is not acceptable."
If you can’t make it to support our educators in person, check out the SKEA website or follow SKEA on Facebook or Instagram to stay informed on what’s going on with contract negotiations and how you can support their efforts to negotiate for fair pay and safe, productive working conditions.
Other union news from across Oregon
Doctors, Nurses Tell Legacy Health They Plan to Unionize as OHSU Purchase Looms (from Willamette Week):
"Doctors, nurses and physician assistants at Legacy Health informed CEO Kathryn Correia today that they plan to unionize, in part because of “grave concerns” about Oregon Health & Science University’s effort to purchase its struggling crosstown rival.
OHSU announced plans to take over Legacy last month in a deal that would create the Portland metro area’s largest employer, with 32,000 doctors, nurses and other staff, and 10 hospitals.
“We find it essential to form a union in order to cultivate our shared clinical voices and advocate for a better future for our patients, community, and our hospital system,” the staff wrote. “Ultimately, we are on the front lines of health and illness, and we feel compelled to use our collective values to help guide Legacy Health back on a path to value patients over profits and nurture a future where we all have an equal seat and voice at the table.”
The push is the latest, largest effort to unionize workers at Legacy. In August, staff at Legacy’s Unity Center for Behavioral Health voted to unionize with the Oregon Nurses Association, following nurses at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center in Gresham. Nurses at Legacy Silverton Medical Center are unionized, too."
Kaiser Permanente to outsource union work during pending pharmacy strike (from StreetRoots):
“Kaiser is preparing “contingency plans” for the strike. Among its plans to maintain pharmacy services is expanding Kaiser’s pharmacy network.
(A Kaiser official) told Street Roots Kaiser plans to outsource union work to community pharmacies during the strike to “mitigate any closure of (Kaiser’s) outpatient pharmacies.”
The health care company intends to keep its inpatient pharmacies open.”
Oregon state workers ratify contract granting robust wage hikes (from Oregon AFSCME):
"TOP WINS OF THE CENTRAL TABLE CONTRACT
$1,500 COLA bonus in September 2023: To provide immediate relief and recognize the incredible efforts of state workers, the contract includes a $1,500 COLA bonus scheduled for September 2023.
6.55% COLA increase in December 2023: One of the standout victories of this contract is the substantial 6.55% COLA scheduled for December 2023. This increase ensures that state workers will see a tangible boost to their income, helping them keep pace with the rising cost of living.
6.5% COLA increase in early 2025: Not only do we have a significant COLA in 2023, but we've also secured a 6.5% COLA in early 2025, ensuring that state workers will continue to see improvements in their compensation well into the future.
Maintained current contract benefits: In addition to these impressive COLA increases and bonuses, we are pleased to announce that we have successfully maintained all current contract benefits, including the current pay structure. This ensures job security and stability for our members, safeguarding the rights and protections they have come to rely on."
City drops legal fight over Salem firefighter’s 2019 cancer death (from Salem Reporter):
"City Manager Keith Stahley announced Monday the city would withdraw its appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court challenging an appellate judge’s finding that former firefighter Mo Stadeli’s 2019 death from tonsillar cancer was related to his work.
Stahley notified the Salem City Council of the decision at its Monday meeting as more than a dozen demonstrators sat in the audience wearing red shirts with the message, “Support your local firefighters.” Minutes earlier, many more had gathered outside the Salem Fire Department’s downtown station before picketing along Southeast Liberty Street toward council chambers.
The decision comes about two weeks after the city appealed the case to the Supreme Court. Stadeli died in February 2019."
International Longshore and Warehouse US dockworkers union files for bankruptcy (from Reuters):
"The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) representing U.S. dockworkers has filed for a chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to resolve a pending litigation with the Oregon affiliate of the International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI).
"While we have attempted numerous times to resolve the decade-long litigation with ICTSI Oregon, at this point, the Union can no longer afford to defend against ICTSI's scorched-earth litigation tactic", said ILWU International President Willie Adams.
"We intend to use the chapter 11 process to implement a plan that will bring this matter to resolution and ensure that our Union continues to do its important work for our members and the community," he added."
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