In developing priorities for the 2015 contract negotiations, AFSCME Local 328 identified that there were significant barriers for lower-wage workers wanting to access educational programs needed to advance within OHSU, which disproportionally affected underrepresented employees. Our union brought the issue of workforce development for low-wage earners to the bargaining table. During negotiations, Local 328 and OHSU formally agreed that recruitment and retention of a more diverse workforce is a priority for both organizations.
“Collectively our local leadership decided that equity and inclusion should be a bargaining priority in all future contacts starting in 2015. During that bargaining cycle, we addressed many different issues that impacted our bargaining unit including workforce development. It took many conversations internally at our local and with our employer but collectively we reached an agreement that is centered on providing opportunities to our underserved members in AFSCME." Said Chinetta Montgomery, Local 328 member, Oregon AFSCME Diversity Chair, and Pipeline Co-Chair for OHSU.
As a result, the parties formed the Community Employment Committee, consisting of equal representation from union leadership and OHSU management. The committee is focused on serving AFSCME-represented OHSU employees who are historically underserved and diverse in a variety of ways, including race, ethnicity, veteran status, disability, LGBTQ status and economic hardship. Since its formation, the committee has developed a strategic plan to achieve shared goals of increasing career-development opportunities for employees.
One element of that strategic plan has come together in the form of grant funding through the U.S. Department of Labor’s NW Promise diversity grant. This grant will provide forty AFSCME represented employees with free job training for certain positions that require certification, support for testing and a program coach. Eligible employees can receive training in the following jobs:
Certified Nursing Assistant 1 and 2
Medical Coding Specialist
Patient Access Services Specialist
Sterile Processing Technician 2
The committee has been reviewing applications from more than 200 employees and is starting to announce the recipients.
Credit goes to Local 328 and OHSU for coming together to build equity within the workforce through education and new opportunities. Contract bargaining is about more than just cost-of-living increases and controlling health-insurance premiums—it’s also about establishing innovative programs to better serve the membership and our local community. Local 328 looks forward to 2019 contract negotiations and assuring that their members’ needs are responded to.