Over the last month, our Adult Foster Home Bargaining Team has been back to the table to continue the push for a fair contract. After late September and early October bargaining sessions, there is some progress to report. But there also remain some ongoing differences between the two sides.
One the one hand, we reached a tentative agreement on a package of some of the outstanding articles, including the following:
Highlights of the package include:
Continuing Education Trainings: We made significant progress around access to training hours for providers. The State agreed to a plan to put free trainings online for all state-mandated training requirements (that don’t have a physical training component) within twelve months of contract ratification! This will be a good opportunity to collaborate with the State in the development of relevant and accessible trainings for providers. Contact Katie Coombes at 503.459.9231 if you have ideas or would like to help with this issue.
No Discrimination:Expanded contract protections for provider’s exercising their rights granted by the collective bargaining agreement, while maintaining the ability to grieve discrimination claims.
Legislative Action:The State backed off of a proposal that could have forced us back to the bargaining table if the legislature were to decrease funding in the middle of a contract.
But differences remain on key economic items and critical bargaining provisions:
Standing Strong Against Rate Cuts:
DD Providers: The State is still proposing a 10% across the board rate reduction for DD Providers. However, since we are still in contract negotiations, the State could not implement the 10% rate cut on October 1st like they originally proposed. Our bargaining team continues to oppose the reductions as being unrealistic in the face of increased costs to providers, with expectations from the State for the same or better resident services.
APD Providers: The State is still proposing a 16% rate reduction for APD Providers starting July 1st 2012. At the October 7th bargaining session providers shared with the State how a 16% rate cut would impact their ability to provide quality resident services. Debbie Schreiner, Bargaining Team Member from Sutherlin, shared the following story: “The State needs to consider the impact a 16% cut will have on quality care. It will be even more difficult to cover the basics like utilities and groceries. Our electricity bill alone is over $300 a month! And we have residents on restricted diets, where we have to purchase special items like loaves of bread that costs $4.99 each. We want to provide the best possible services to our clients but I don’t know how that will be possible with 16% less resources.”
After eight months of bargaining, there are only a few issues left on the bargaining table. But the remaining items continue to be top priorities for providers including service fee rates, bargaining obligations/rights, and transparency around rate tools.
What Happens Next?
The next bargaining date is scheduled for October 21st. If negotiations become deadlocked over the remaining issues, it is possible that either side may “declare impasse.” Adult Foster Home Providers, like police officers and fire fighters, are considered a non-strikeable bargaining unit because we provide essential services. Therefore, if impasse were declared, the bargaining process for AFH providers would move towards binding arbitration and not a strike.
Binding arbitration is a dispute resolution process, whereby a third party arbitrator reviews both the State’s and the Union’s final offers and then chooses one side’s complete proposal package. As the bargaining process progresses, the bargaining team will continue to be in contact with providers around the state to hear your thoughts and feedback.
You can also call 1-800-452-2146 and ask to speak to your Adult Foster Home Organizer in your area to get more information and find out how you can get involved.
The Adult Foster Home Bargaining Team
Kathleen Howard, Gold Hill (Chair)
Michael Jones, Medford (Co-chair)
Rich Peppers, chief negotiator
Lana Eszler, Milton Freewater
Roxanne Hazen, Cottage Grove
Patricia Jones, Dallas
Stephanie Krohn, Rogue River
Gary Lane, Eugene
Clara McPhee, Medford
Karla Spence, Salem
Regina Valentine, Richland