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Monday, October 10, 2011

Big boss man, can't you hear me when I call?

Oregon's fearless attorney general is the unions' pet -- he was their ultimate revenge against his erstwhile rival -- but the unionized attorneys who work for him are not entirely enthused about his handling of their pay and perks. The latest squabble is over bus pass subsidies that the state Justice Department lays on the union members -- they're being cut while managers get raises. This has prompted the head of the attorneys' union to put out an alert to his membership, a copy of which was sent to us for some reason.

Anyway, the union chief, Marc Abrams, wrote:

For the past year, DOJ has been attempting to terminate the program that subsidizes mass transit passes in Salem and Portland, which costs DOJ $87,000/yr, about $15K of that for OAJA members. However, this program is compensation, and so must be bargained. DOJ did not attempt to bargain its discontinuation, so, as a matter of status quo, it continues.

But does it? A month ago, DOJ unilaterally told payroll to cut off the bus passes effective November. For the past month, we have been trying to figure out why the Front Office thinks it can do this, particularly as their own collective bargaining representative, Craig Cowan of DAS, agrees this must be bargained.... No request to re-open bargaining has been received, nor has management suggested what they might offer in return. But although I have sent several communications to management asking them to affirm the program will not be ended, I have not received a definitive response from management. Be assured that if DOJ wrongfully discontinues this program, we will be filing a grievance.

Peter Robbed, Paul Prospers

Meanwhile, although DOJ says it can no longer afford your bus passes, we received the attached letter last week. AICs [attorneys in charge] (but, oddly, only those at the top step, but that may be most of them), are getting raises, as are AAICs [assistant AICs], Division Heads and Mary Williams. Top step AICs will move from $116,016 to $129,906, apparently effective immediately. This is a 12% raise. By contrast, we are getting slightly less than 4%, most of it deferred until the very end of the biennium.

Now, OAJA does not necessarily object to compensating attorneys properly. After all, it is our belief, well documented by salary surveys, that we are still significantly underpaid. But it seems to us that there is a problem announcing that these raises are immediate, when ours are deferred. There is a problem when saying these raises are needed for recruitment and retention when we were specifically told OAJA did not need raises to recruit and retain throughout collective bargaining. There is a problem when DOJ waits until our bargaining is over then grants much larger raises to managers, just as former Governor Kulongoski did several years ago, and that move was rightly greeted with both union and public uproar. And consider that each AIC raise will cost just shy of $14,000. How [many] are there? How much will the Division head, AAIC and Mary’s raises cost? Just two of these equal the amount they want to take from OAJA members for your bus passes.

With the boss running unopposed for re-election, perhaps he's not as attentive to the whole organized labor movement as he was four years ago.

Comments (4)

Geez. A union leader representing his membership. How cheeky of him.

Pi**ing off a group of lawyers doesn't seem a particularly smart thing to do . . .

A media brawl between unions and lawyers. This should be entertaining.

Can't wait for the R's to see they can take that office off that clod, and run a good quality moderate. It'd be a breath of fresh air.

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