‘No contract, no peace’ at OSH, union employees tell hospital

By Queenie Wong, Statesman Journal, June 25, 2013

OSH union rallyThe union members held up their purple and white picket signs and, facing the Oregon State Hospital on Monday, chanted “What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!”

About 30 people, including some who work at the state hospital, from the Service Employees International Union Local 503 rallied for what they called a “fair contract” during labor negotiations.

The contract the state is proposing would reduce and limit compensation time for the extra hours state hospital employees work. It also doesn’t include expanded holiday pay and differentials for employees who work in “Harbors,” the highest security level of the hospital, which the union has proposed.

“We’re willing to work hand in hand with the state, but when they blatantly send us things that are out of control we have to say no. We have to let them know we’re serious,” Glen Stolburg, a union organizer, told participants.

The rally came a day before the last scheduled bargaining session between SEIU Local 392 — a branch of the union that represents state hospital employees — and the state.

Enlarged photos of state hospital employees who had been assaulted, including those with bruised eyes, scars and bloody faces, rested against the building.

Joe Schaeffer, a field coordinator for the union in Salem, called the rally a “warm up” of what was to come if an agreement isn’t reached today.

“If we don’t get a contract then they don’t get peace in the work site,” he said.

Joel Pyle, a security technician at the state hospital and a steward for the union, said many employees are working between 60 to 80 hours per week and need adequate time off to compensate for overtime.

“You come in exhausted and extremely tired,” he said.

Vice President of SEIU Local 392 Jeff Hodson, who’s part of the bargaining team, said he remains optimistic that the union and state will reach an agreement, including one on compensation time amid concerns about staffing.

“We’re making strides in an effort to make the hospital a better place,” he said.