Reprinted from nw Labor Press on March 13, 2019. It is unattributed.
A group of Oregon dentists spent their lunch hour on a picket line February 27 — to let members of the public know they want a fair contract.
Last spring, 28 dentists employed at seven Multnomah County clinics voted to join Oregon AFSCME after the county increased their patient load 20 percent in 2017 — to about 22 patients a day — without giving them any say in the matter, or any increase in compensation.
Union and management have been negotiating since late August, but they’ve had a hard time reaching agreement on a first contract.
Pay is a key sticking point. Oregon AFSCME rep Eben Pullman says dentists working at Multnomah County Health Department are underpaid compared to other dentists locally. The job requires a doctoral degree in dental medicine or dental surgery, but their starting pay is just over $100,000, and annual pay tops out at $161,000, compared to top pay of $220,000 for dentists at the Veterans Administration, $193,000 in the state corrections system, $175,000 at the non-profit Virginia Garcia clinic network, and $170,000 for dentists at Clackamas County. …