Thursday, March 26, 2009

2010 Contract Survey

NORTH PACIFIC GROUNDFISH OBSERVER
UNION NEGOTIATION SURVEY
For 2010 Contracts

EMAIL COMPLETED SURVEY TO: survey@observernet.org
CONTRACT BLOG: http://www.2010contract.blogspot.com

THE OBJECTIVE of this survey is to get feedback from as many observers as possible on needed changes in the 2010 NPGOP observer union contracts. All union contracts expire December 31, 2009 and we have a unique opportunity this year to negotiate all contracts at the same time. In the past, contract negotiations have been staggered. This has seemed to work mostly to the advantage of contractors, and not necessarily observers. In addition, there has been a serious lack of transparency in our Union. Observers were not able to participate in negotiations unless he happened to be employed by that contractor. Furthermore, many observers have been left out of participating due to lapses in communication. We would like to approach this year’s negotiations differently. The APO and ObserverNet would like to facilitate organizing observers to provide both the Union and our contractors a unified voice, regardless of contractor, on observer labor issues that we all share. We would like to facilitate increased transparency of current contracts, negotiation points from each contractor, and information about contract negotiations.

The information from this survey will be kept confidential, publishing results only as summaries to observers and our Union representative, Tracey Mayhew.

Please feel free to contact us further:
Dave Wagenheim: davewagenheim@hotmail.com
Liz Mitchell: emitch@efn.org 541-344-5503

Your Name:
Email contact:
May someone contact you for follow-ups or updates?
Accumulated Sea Days (approx):
When did you start observing?
Providers (contractors) work(ed) for:
Current pay grade (1-7):

1. What approach do you feel observers should take toward this round of negotiations?

2. List the top 5 areas, in order of importance, where you would like to see pay increases and the amounts desired. Elaborate how you would like to see these rules changed, if at all in the comments section at the end of the survey.
( ) At sea pay
( ) Briefing/Debriefing
( ) Waiting/Standby
( ) Bonus (for number of sea days per year)
( ) Bonus (for lead observer status)
( ) Pension Plan

3. Would you be interested in the idea of buying insurance through your provider for periods between contracts?

4. If you would like Insurance, list in order of importance:
( ) General Health
( ) Long-term Health/ Emergency Care
( ) Dental
( ) Vision

5. Would you sacrifice increased benefits/pay in other areas for insurance benefits? Which areas?

6. For reimbursements, list in order of importance and stipulate guidelines desired (i.e comment on problems you have had with current system and how you would like it improved):
( ) Food
( ) Travel
( ) Gear
( ) Insurance
( ) Lodging

7. How often would you like to see contracts renegotiated? Why?
( ) Yearly
( ) Every two years
( ) Every three years (current standard)
Other ideas:

8. Would you rather be paid bi-monthly, rather than monthly (current standard)?

9. How many times have you been contacted by the union representative (Tracy Mayhew) since you began observing?

10. Are you satisfied with union/observer communications, representation and transparency of negotiations? If not, provide suggestions for improvement.

11. Are you satisfied with the information you receive about the Union pension plan and how to better contribute to your retirement?

12. How would you like to be kept informed of news pertaining to contract negotiations?

13. How often would you like to be updated?

14. Would you be in favor of regular union meetings? If so how often? Quarterly? Bi-annually?

15. Are you in favor of seeking another union or representative?

16. Should union dues/participation ($120 per year) be mandatory?

17. Should the union reimburse dues or be penalized/fined if they are unable to reach a contract agreement?



Other information

Please use the space below to elaborate on any of the above questions (with reference to question number) and any other issues not mentioned. Also we would like to hear about issues of union enforcement of labor issues, such as contractor abuses, contractor retaliation, medical emergencies/departure from contract, bias in vessel assignment, contractor relations (professionalism, communication, etc.), lodging conditions, frequency of pay/reimbursement, training pay/reimbursement structure, etc.
(Please reference questions 1-17 for relevant topics, add more if desired)

Comments:






















This survey was created in March 2009, voluntarily and for the benefit of all observers. Sponsored by the Association of Professional Observers (APO) and ObserverNet.org.
Continued feedback is welcomed online at www.2010contract.blogspot.com, where you can post anonymously. Thank you for participating!

8 comments:

  1. *The intention of this comment post is just to show an example of a completed survey. Please email completed surveys to: survey@observernet.org - thanks!

    Your Name: Dave Wagenheim
    Email contact: davewagenheim@hotmail.com
    May someone contact you for follow-ups or updates? Y
    Accumulated Sea Days (approx): 850
    When did you start observing? Jan. 2000
    Providers (contractors) work(ed) for: AOI, SWI
    Current pay grade (1-7): 7 AOI, 6 SWI

    1. What approach do you feel observers should take toward this round of negotiations?
    Try to get ideas together as quickly as possible so we can get some action from our union.

    2. List the top 5 areas, in order of importance, where you would like to see pay increases and the amounts desired. Elaborate how you would like to see these rules changed, if at all in the comments section at the end of the survey.
    (1 ) At sea pay
    (2 ) Briefing/Debriefing
    (3 ) Waiting/Standby
    (4 ) Bonus (for number of sea days per year)
    (5 ) Bonus (for lead observer status)
    ( ) Pension Plan

    3. Would you be interested in the idea of buying insurance through your provider for periods between contracts?
    No
    4. If you would like Insurance, list in order of importance:
    ( ) General Health
    ( ) Long-term Health/ Emergency Care
    ( ) Dental
    ( ) Vision

    5. Would you sacrifice increased benefits/pay in other areas for insurance benefits? Which areas?
    No
    6. For reimbursements, list in order of importance and stipulate guidelines desired (i.e comment on problems you have had with current system and how you would like it improved):
    (1 ) Food
    (3 ) Travel
    (2 ) Gear
    (4 ) Insurance
    (5 ) Lodging



    7. How often would you like to see contracts renegotiated? Why?
    ( ) Yearly
    (x ) Every two years: Keeps newer people in the loop and includes participation from those with a short lifespan in observing.
    ( ) Every three years (current standard)
    Other ideas:

    8. Would you rather be paid bi-monthly, rather than monthly (current standard)?
    Bi-monthly
    9. How many times have you been contacted by the union representative (Tracy Mayhew) since you began observing?
    A couple of times.
    10. Are you satisfied with union/observer communications, representation and transparency of negotiations? If not, provide suggestions for improvement.
    No. There needs to be consistent communication that matches the expectations of today's observers with today's technology (email, newsletters, websites, blog)
    11. Are you satisfied with the information you receive about the Union pension plan and how to better contribute to your retirement?
    No
    12. How would you like to be kept informed of news pertaining to contract negotiations?
    Email and newsletters
    13. How often would you like to be updated?
    quarterly
    14. Would you be in favor of regular union meetings? If so how often?
    Quarterly? Bi-annually?
    Yes. Bi-annually. Given logistical complications of observers, it seems reasonable to have these 'meetings' involve email communications, or a smaller group of representatives exchanging info by teleconference.
    15. Are you in favor of seeking another union or representative? Something to consider if we do not get results.
    16. Should union dues/participation ($120 per year) be mandatory?
    Yes
    17. Should the union reimburse dues or be penalized/fined if they are unable to reach a contract agreement?
    Yes


    Other information

    Please use the space below to elaborate on any of the above questions (with reference to question number) and any other issues not mentioned. Also we would like to hear about issues of union enforcement of labor issues, such as contractor abuses, contractor retaliation, medical emergencies/departure from contract, bias in vessel assignment, contractor relations (professionalism, communication, etc.), lodging conditions, frequency of pay/reimbursement, training pay/reimbursement structure, etc.
    (Please reference questions 1-17 for relevant topics, add more if desired)

    Comments:

    I think to encourage maximum potential for involvement of observers in contract negotiations, there should be some major improvements in communication between our union rep and observers. Also, I think contracts should last 2 years and be re-negotiated every other year. If we have new contracts in 2010, they should only last through the end of 2011.
    I think top grade observers should be getting $220 per day for at sea pay, not including bonuses. I think there should be a $5 per year increase in daily pay, or at least some percentage to reflect average inflation. These raises should be consistent on an annual basis.
    If observers have to wait to be assigned after briefing, or debriefied after assignment, through no fault of our own, we should be compensated at a daily rate equal or similar to briefing pay. However, to be fair, observers who have to wait for a requested assignment should not be entitled to this compensation.
    I don’t understand how the Money Purchase Pension Plan idea came about and doubt if most observers actually know anything about it or how to utilize this money.
    I think SWI’s food per diem situation is ridiculous and needs to be improved and on par with AOI and the other providers. Seattle $25, Anchorage $35, Dutch/Kodiak/Adak $50. That said, I think Seattle’s per diem should be increased. Working for AOI, I always thought keeping track of receipts was a pain, but after experiencing SWI’s method, I think AOI’s is a breeze.
    I think it would be great if we could get paychecks issued every other week, just like most jobs, instead of once per month.
    SWI might find they can spend less on housing observers in hotels if they doubled up their plant observers in Kodiak.
    I’d like to see the greatest monetary increase in At Sea pay. I could live with all other things staying relatively unchanged (except for SWI’s food per diem rates and lack of waiting pay). At sea is where we do most of our work, which by the way has been increased significantly after changes implemented by NMFS in 2008. It is still a very dangerous work environment with some very unique challenges and observers are asked to sacrifice a lot for their work at sea.
    Let’s allow providers to be conservative with newcomers, but expect them to reward experience. I would like to see a pay schedule across grades that look something like this: G1-$140, G2-160, G3-170, G4-180, G5-200, G6-210, G7-$220. Every grade has a $10 jump, except for two $20 jumps between 1 and 2, and 4 and 5. The first to distinguish between those who just won’t ever do more than one contract and the rest. And the second to distinguish between relative short timers and people who will continue to work and accumulate experience over 7 or more contracts. Experience deserves to be rewarded properly. Those are the observers who get put in lead positions (whether a company offers bonuses or not), and those are the observers that providers can continue to count on.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Pay should be bi-monthly auto-deposited on the specified date of pay. Getting paid $6000 per month has less value than getting paid $3000 twice per month.

    $6000/(1.038^2) = 5568.73 with the 3.8% being the inflation rate in 2008. $3000/(1.038^1) + $3000/(1.038^2) = 5674.54. $105.81 greater present value. If you can get a better rate than inflation, this difference goes up. The contractor is making this money instead.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Observers are represented by the seafarers union. Isn't the conflict of interest obvious! Observers are not defined under the traditional law and paths of seafarers. We may benefit from an alliance, but maybe not from direct representation.

    Who specifically is negotiating our contract? ie. Do we have someone with some skin in the game? Do we have adequate legal representation present to represent us based on contractual law? Do we have a trained and skilled negotiator or ...?

    Two years would be fine, but there must be repercussions for non-negotiation. As we have seen in the past, contractors will drag out the negotiations. They promise retroactive application of pay rates, but they don't follow through. That means obervers are giving the contractors that extra money as a gift.

    Certainly contractors need to earn an adequate return on their efforts to cover their costs and make a profit. That is the point of a business. That doesn't mean we need to let them take advantage of us in the process.

    In unequal power situations, the strong dictate terms. Negotiation is fruitful only when there is a balance of power based on mutual needs.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Perhaps there could be 3 different compensation plans. An observer could sign up for one during a calendar year.

    The compensation could be based on a single daily rate. Lower grades could be based on a percent of the top rate.

    1. At-Sea, Brief/Debrief, per diem.

    2. Add insurance.

    3. Add pension plan.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.............................................

    ReplyDelete