August 10th, 2010 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

Updated: City of Portland Inches Toward Contract Settlements

The City of Portland is still in negotiations with its largest labor group, the District Council of Trade Unions, which represents almost one-third of Portland's 6,000 workers.

Much of those talks remain under wraps. But the Northwest Labor Press has a union-friendly account of negotiations thus far.

According to the union newspaper, the two biggest outstanding issues relate to outsourcing and overtime, two issues WW has covered recently.

Last December, a California arbitrator ruled the city had violated provisions of its contract with DCTU when it outsourced work on the green pay stations that Portlanders use for on-street parking. The arbitrator then ordered the city to pay 4,680 hours of overtime to six workers--or almost $1.2 million total. [Correction: It's $200,000 total divided among six people.]

"DCTU spokesperson Cherry Harris said the City wants to 'gut' provisions that limit privatizing members' jobs," the Northwest Labor Press writes in an Aug. 6 article.

The second issue still weighing on negotiations, according to the labor press, is whether City of Portland employees can collect overtime even if they haven't worked 40 hours in one week. Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Amanda Fritz have both publicly expressed concern about this complicated provision in the DCTU contract. The provision is more generous than what federal and state law requires. Basically, the provision lets an employee call in sick one day, work 32 hours the rest of the week, then pull an extra 8-hour shift at the overtime rate. (If that's confusing, Yvonne Deckard, the city's human resources director, spells it out in a memo here.)

"[T]he City is proposing the overtime change in the DCTU bargaining still under way," the Northwest Labor Press reports.

City of Portland officials held an executive session about labor negotiations at City Hall this morning. Members of the press, including WW, were able to attend the session. But Oregon law prevents the media from reporting on the talks.

The city has reached agreement with four of seven labor groups who have agreed to forgo cost-of-living increases for 2010.
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