Bargaining Wins

So far, our union has secured half a million dollars to be distributed as bonuses to qualified/certified health care interpreters in our bargaining unit!  This $500,000 is a HUGE win that comes as a direct result of our collective actions and advocacy. Interpreters were not included in the emergency funds that were paid to other essential health care workers working through the pandemic. We have successfully pushed the state to recognize the importance of the services we provide.

How did we get here?

The State of Oregon rejected our pay proposals for months during contract negotiations; we were told repeatedly that there weren’t funds or an administrative system to pay interpreters. As a union, we strategically came up with a plan to address both issues. We wrote proposals and talked to legislators to request these emergency funds from the legislature and partnered with a coalition of community organizations for distribution.

And because of the strength of our union, we were successful.

What’s next?

  • The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is currently drafting a grant agreement to release the funds. We are discovering that this process is more arduous and time-consuming than we expected.  AFSCME is continuing to push for the timely completion of the process so that bonus checks can be distributed as quickly as possible. 

  • Our bargaining team has steadfastly refused to sign a contract without compensation, and we are continuing to work with the Oregon Health Authority to develop a scheduling and payment mechanism so that we can win a contract with rates.