Published: November 24, 2020

Western Oregon University (WOU) Sublocal 082 union members have been facing tough working conditions since the start of the pandemic. A lack of communication, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), cleaning supplies, and layoffs have impacted dozens of workers. WOU Sublocal 082 SEIU members have organized in response. When the WOU administration laid off dozens of workers, union members circulated a petition to protect health insurance until the end of the year, and they won. Workers who are getting laid off will keep their insurance through the end of January 2021. 

In the layoff process and as students returned to campus in September workers faced lack of safety protections, lack of communication and a feeling that the administration was indifferent. They rallied in response, forming the Coalition for Positive Change at WOU with the AFT faculty union and students. 

After attempting to meet with management and getting no movement, the coalition decided to issue a confidential email vote of “no confidence” to AFT faculty and WOU classified workers. More than 85% voted “no confidence,” so the next steps include a vote to censure members of the administration. 

Union leaders have continued  to meet with management and have seen some improvements in communication and safety equipment. but they are still concerned that the administration is planning to  enter into “retrenchment” without input from workers and students. Under the faculty’s Collective Bargaining under conditions of demonstrable financial exigency, program or discipline curtailment and retrenchment, administration can make faculty cuts.

WOU Sublocal 82 members are meeting with legislators and the Board of Trustees to push for input and collaboration from the administration. They are sharing the united message that WOU Sublocal 82 members, who are classified workers, are essential to the students and their community.