City Workers Will Be Required in the Office 20 Hours a Week, per Email Sent to Workers

The city is set to announce its return-to-work policy by noon Wednesday. Workers got an early warning from a group of employees attempting to establish a union.

According to an email sent to city of Portland employees this morning, the city will require employees to work from their offices at least 20 hours per week as it enters the next phase of its return-to-work policy.

“We have it from reputable management sources that you will be expected to be back in the office for 20 hours a week. How does that rest with you?” the email reads. “If we know our people, that will up-end a lot of lives.”

The email was sent to city employees at 10:18 am from the City of Portland Professional Workers Union, which is not a recognized union. (The email asked employees to sign a petition: “We need 300 signatures to hold a vote to unionize so that we do have a seat at the table when these decisions are made.”)

“Unfortunately,” the email continued, “you will have no say in yet another arbitrary and obtuse decision that affects your life.”

The mayor’s office declined to comment on the email sent to employees.

Less than two hours later in a press release, the mayor’s office confirmed the new requirements, which will kick in beginning in April 2023. Workers will have the ability to apply for an exception to the hourly requirement. In addition to spending at least 20 hours in-office, employees must live in either Washington or Oregon to remain employed.

As WW reported in August, thousands of city employees have resisted the calls to return to work, arguing that it’s not their responsibility to repopulate the city’s gutted downtown core.

Since this summer, city officials have worked to craft a return-to-work policy that pacifies city workers who’ve become adjusted to working from home but also brings back much-needed foot traffic to downtown Portland.