September 24th, 2010 | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

Updated: City of Portland Prepares for Possible Strike

City of Portland human resources director at City Hall
City of Portland managers are preparing for the possibility of a strike this fall if talks with the District Council of Trade Unions continue to go badly. DCTU represents about one-third of the city's 6,000 employees, including utility workers, transportation maintenance workers, equipment operators, meter readers, engineers, and others.

The two sides entered mediation yesterday. But if a settlement is not reached soon, DCTU could strike. And because of the timing of mediation, that strike would likely occur at the end of November, the precise time many employees start taking holiday vacations.

To prevent the prospect of DCTU's members from collecting vacation wages during the holiday season when they're actually participating in a strike, city managers have begun telling all City of Portland employees--even non-represented employees and those in unions that won't strike--that they won't be able to request vacation days between Nov. 29 and Jan. 1, if they haven't already made that request. The decision is also an attempt to make sure there are enough City of Portland employees at work to ensure critical services continue in the event of a DCTU strike.

Unsurprisingly, the possible moratorium on holiday vacations is sending ripples of dissatisfaction across City of Portland bureaus. "I haven't been allowed to take a vacation for about 6 months," one worried employee wrote in an email to colleagues Tuesday. "Many of us are planning vacations in December and I want to pursue that option. Nothing has been sent to me/us in writing."

Calls to Yvonne Deckard, Portland's human resources director, were not immediately returned.

This [PDF] is DCTU's summary of outstanding issues.

Update at 3:45 pm: Deckard says the preparations are really meant to protect core city services not prevent striking workers from earning vacation wages while on the picket line, which Deckard says wouldn't likely be a problem (i.e., I overstated that above.) "There are services that are critical for the city that we have to provide," Deckard says. "We can't wait to the last minute."
 
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