The city and the District Council of Trade Unions (DCTU) have been bargaining a new contract for 1,800 general city employees since February. Union members are set to go on strike at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning unless a settlement is reached. The two sides met in mediation for 12 hours on Wednesday and another 13-plus hours Friday without reaching an agreement.
Don Loving, the Public Affairs Director for Oregon AFSCME and a spokesperson for the DCTU, expressed frustration with the city's actions on Friday.
"Once again, city officials have let down the process, and they therefore let down the citizens of Portland," said Loving. "We are angry, disappointed and frustrated that city bargainers chose to walk away from negotiations once again.
"The Friday night action was particularly upsetting," Loving continued. "We were making progress. The union team was in the midst of working on a proposal that we had received a little earlier from the city. In the midst of that, the state mediator came in to tell us that the city had abruptly decided to go home. Once again, we were ready to stay as long as it took, and once again, the city pulled the rug out from under the process and walked away."
Loving said the two sides will convene again at 12-noon Sunday at Portland City Hall.
"We can only hope that the city will come with a commitment to stay the entire evening if need be on Sunday," said Loving. "Come Sunday, we will be past the proverbial 11th hour, and we'll be facing midnight dead in the face Ü both figuratively and literally."
Loving said disagreement over health care costs is still the key issue in the dispute.
"But we were working on that very issue when the city pulled the plug Friday," he said. "That's what made their action so particularly disturbing."