April 17, 2014
2013 News
Updated On: May 02, 2013 (15:28:00) Print or Save this ArticlePRINT/SAVE Email Article to FriendEMAIL

General Membership Meeting - Tues., May 14 - 1900 Building, Room 7A

meeting flyerClick the icon (left) download the flyer or go to the Events Calendar details.


Mayor Hales Recognizes COPPEA Members for their Shared Sacrifice

Several unions began negotiations in 2013 and we all faced the same financial proposal from the City -- a reduction of COLA for FY 2013-14 to 0.9%. COPPEA members responded to our survey on the matter and were overwhelmingly supportive of agreeing to the proposal in the interest of reducing the deficit and hopefully saving jobs.  The City budget will not be finalized until the end of May at which time we will learn exactly which positions were cut and which were saved from layoff.  Even without actually knowing the savings, COPPEA members should be proud of their altruism in sacrificing their COLA for the sake of their colleagues.  mayor

Not only were our bargaining team and the City team impressed with our forfeiture, Mayor Charlie Hales had this to say, “Once again, the leadership of COPPEA, and the city workers you represent, have stepped up for the sake of Portlanders.  I want to take this opportunity to thank you personally for the part you played in crafting this difficult budget, and helping us get through these times to the much brighter days – and budgets – ahead.”

April 22: Important News, Tentative Agreement Reached

Your COPPEA bargaining team is pleased to announce that we’ve reached a tentative agreement (TA) with the City on the entire contract! This year has been a difficult budgetary environment in which to negotiate, but we’ve come away with an agreement that provides increased opportunities and flexibility for employees. We feel that this agreement is a strong victory for COPPEA members during a time of continuing cuts in the City’s budget.

First, the bad news: As you probably know, the City is facing a $21.5 million ongoing budget gap in the general fund.  With no concessions, this would result in layoffs across the city, including many COPPEA positions across the Bureaus. Early in the budget cycle when the concept of taking the 2013 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) away was heard from City leadership, COPPEA responded by meeting with the Mayor, Council members, and the Human Resources Director to tell them that no COLA was not an option.

Following our strong advocacy to avoid the loss of the 2013 COLA, we were met at the table with a proposal to reduce the increase by 50% in the first year of the contract, which avoided the possibility of no COLA. We performed a survey of COPPEA membership to let all members provide input on this subject, and the results showed a majority of participants favored taking a COLA cut in order to save jobs from layoff.  Your bargaining team proposed several alternatives to the City that would bring this money back during future years of the contract, but it became clear that the City needed ongoing savings in order to save positions and services.

Acknowledging the current budgetary reality faced by the City, we have tentatively agreed to accept a half COLA (0.9%) in 2013. We understand the impact that this will have to COPPEA members. However, by doing this we will save jobs that would otherwise be lost to layoff, saving working families from the hardship of job-loss and unemployment in a difficult job market. The reality of the City budget is stark this year, and cuts were inevitable to make up for immediate revenue shortfalls. Should this situation change and other unions or non-represented employees negotiate a higher COLA, our agreement contains language that will automatically grant COPPEA members that amount.


  Now the good news:

   ·      We have secured a four-year agreement with the City which gives guaranteed full COLAs for 2014, 2015, and 2016. This provides great stability in this continually difficult economy


·      We were successful in saving the Professional Development Fund (PDF), even securing funding for the remainder of 2013. For the first time, we have a guarantee that, regardless of the City budget, the PDF will be funded during all years of the contract! Additionally, starting in 2014, the funding of the PDF will increase to $150,000 per year. Our initial bargaining survey showed tremendous interest in the PDF, and we are pleased to report great success in finally securing the fund for the duration of the contract.


·      Having heard a large call for flexibility around deferred holidays during our contract survey, we were successful in negotiating language so that employees on flex schedules will be able to defer holidays that fall on their regularly scheduled day off and take them at a time mutually agreed to with management rather than having to take a holiday on the adjacent work day.


·      Importantly during an era of rising health care costs, the City will maintain its current 95% contribution rate to employee health insurance benefits.


·      Rather than sunset as indicated in the current contract, the City will continue the sick leave conversion incentive program for employees with large sick leave balances.


·      After several productive discussions with the City about reducing sick leave abuse, the City will not rely on City-wide average sick leave use to identify abuse. We believe that it is important for management to use more sophisticated tools that take into account individual circumstances rather than assuming that all employees should take similar amounts of leave.


·      COPPEA members will not be at risk of being bumped out of their jobs because another employee fails a background check.


·      Management will strive to notify COPPEA in advance of discipline investigatory interview, which will help COPPEA collaboratively resolve issues and avoid formal discipline when possible.

In total, your COPPEA bargaining team is very happy with this package. This is a very difficult budget year for the City, and the fact that we were able to maintain most benefits, save jobs,  and even gain some financial elements is a big win for COPPEA employees. Please stay tuned for future updates as we move forward with the voting process – we will be holding meetings across the city in coming weeks to discuss this agreement with members, and we hope that you will reach out to Behnaz Nelson (behnaz@pte17.org) if you have any questions.

Thank you for your continued involvement in this process. Your bargaining team could not have secured this tentative agreement without the ongoing support and interest of the membership, and our solidarity has made a strong impact with City management. In unity we are strong!


In Solidarity,

Behnaz Nelson and Elliot Levin,  Local 17 Staff
Gerry Verhoef
Rachel Whiteside
Paul Cone
Mark Bello
John Wilson
Jamie Wilde


April 11 Solidarity Action: Good Work!
Thanks to all the members who showed up tell the City Council how much your work matters! 

Hot off the Press! Read the April 2013 - COPPEA clips (or click newsletter tab on the left).


Negotations were held on March 25 -
(Click the Negotiations tab on the left to find out more. You'll need a log-in).

Steward 101: Training - On March 25, a Steward Training 101 was held for new stewards.



COPPEA members - as public employees, your voice can greatly influence the actions legislators take in Salem.  Actions which can affect you directly - specifically, your retirement! 
We are aware of more than 80 potential bills aiming to change the PERS system and these changes could have a drastic impact on your retirement.  COPPEA will be monitoring upcoming legislation, but we need YOU to be aware and be active!!
Please attend this meeting in Salem in person or you can watch the meeting on-line (see the bottom of the notice).  See press release.


Layoff and Recall: Understanding Your Contract Language Training Was Held

The this training was held Feb. 25. Watch your email for notices of other trainings.

COPPEA General Membership Meeting Held Feb. 5

The Feb. General Membership meeting was again jam packed with more than 60 members participating. Highlights included: a contract negotiations and budget update given by Local 17 Union Representative Behnaz Nelson and the COPPEA Negotiating Team; a training session on creating a "Communications Action Network (CAN)" led by Local 17 Communications Director Taryn Gerhardt; and much more. A "CAN" is a two-way communications system made up of members who help distribute news and deliver feedback from members during negotiations to build member power. See the full summary here. 



• COPPEA Negotiations Have Started - The first session of negotiations began on Jan. 14. Click the "Negotiations Update" tab on the menu tab (left) for details. You must have a COPPEA account to view. Click here if you need to sign up.

• COPPEA General Membership Meeting Info. - COPPEA General Membership Meetings from January through June 2013 will be held on the first Tuesday of each month from 12 to 1 p.m.  COPPEA will hold a General Membership meeting open to ALL members. Meeting locations change and can be found here.  Pizza and salad are provided. On Jan. 8, our meeting brought over 50 members together! It was an informative and interactive agenda covering topics ranging from contract negotiations, budget update and rumor mill. Members offered opinions on proposed changes to the current contract, as well as, creative ideas to address potential layoffs.

 A message from President Gerry Verhoef - January 2013 -

Hello Fellow COPPEA Members,

As we enter a new year, I want to say THANK YOU for your continued support as your President! It can be a very demanding day completing the daily assignments that provide me with a paycheck while fulfilling my tasks as your President. Even though I don’t receive a monetary compensation as President, I am rewarded continuously watching the Union grow in strength with your increased involvement, the many Stewards who give of themselves to become “spokes” to you, and the forward movement of the members. We had almost a 50 percent participation in the recent survey and great feedback was received. You impressed HR! I am looking forward to 2013.

I am excited to have Local 17 at the helm during contract bargaining, especially Behnaz‘s enthusiasm and generosity with her time and expertise. And let’s not forget all the added resources we have through Local 17, not only during our bargaining, but all through our partnership – Elliot with research, Taryn with communications, Nikola with special projects (organizing), and Adrienne with legislative – just to name a few. I know all their expertise will go a long way with creating a positive outcome to our bargaining. Our first meeting was held on January 14. Behnaz is also taking the monthly meetings in a new direction – at least for the first six months of the year. 

Our Executive meetings are now General Membership meetings with an open dialog between her and members on info sharing, bargaining, union involvement, issues, and milestones. You will also see the faces of your Officers and Stewards at these meetings. We had over 55 members attend the first meeting on January 8 with our next one happening on February 5. In Local 17’s world, this is the type of format used by each of their chapters when they meet to conduct Union business. Come and see what all the excitement is about!

nd we haven’t forgotten City budget issues – Behnaz and the Officers will be meeting with the Mayor and Council in the near future to discuss budgetary directives and impacts.?As a reminder, you will see on your Jan 24th paycheck that Union dues are now at $30 a month as part of our financial commitment to partner with PTE Local 17. Looking forward to seeing you on February 5 and each first Tuesday thereafter!

In Solidarity,

Gerry Verhoef


Read the Oct. 2012 Message from the President and News



Member Login


Not registered yet?
Click Here to sign-up.

Forgot Your Login?
Important Links
Local 17
Oregon AFSCME Council 75
Jobs with Justice
Visit Unions-America.com!
 Top of Page © Copyright 2014, City of Portland Professional Employees Association, All Rights Reserved.
Powered By UnionActive™
Hide the Right Hand Column