After twenty-two hours of bargaining, Oregon public university workers early Saturday morning reached a tentative agreement with university administrators on a new contract that covers wages, benefits, and other workplace policies. The agreement follows months of negotiations and worker actions, including a strike authorization, in pursuit of a fair contract.
“This is a win for the 4,500 workers who dedicate their lives to Oregon universities,” said Melissa Unger, executive director of SEIU Local 503. “Workers stuck together to demand a contract that respects the critical role they play in supporting our students and keeping our campuses running. Together, we fought back take-aways proposed by management on wages, health care, steps, and personal days, and won higher wages for all workers. This hard-fought victory is a testament to the strength and solidarity of Oregon’s front-line university workers.”
University employees provide services that include food preparation, grounds and building maintenance, custodial services, student registration and financial aid assistance, tech support, and other critical services that keep campuses running and facilitate student success.
- A two-year contract outlining key wages, benefits, and working conditions for the classified staff at all seven state universities.
The largest cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in more than a decade, 3% retroactive to July 1, 2019 pending ratification and another 2.1% starting July 1, 2020.
No change in healthcare costs for workers, a significant improvement from the 10% increase originally proposed.
A 48-hour leave bank for workers over the 2 year contract to be used if campuses are shut down because of inclement weather. 48 hours of paid inclement weather over the 2 year contract to be used if campuses are closed. This statewide inclement weather policy is better than any contract we have seen.
Regular steps in both years of the contract means that a worker who is not topped out will see a nearly 15% increase (Steps+COLAs) over the 2 years of the contract. Management’s initial proposal on steps was a complete freeze for the duration of the contract.
All workers with 5 years of service who are “topped out” will get an ongoing 2.5% differential on 11/1/19.
Drop bottom 2 in salary ranges 5 through 11 (except 8B) and the bottom step in range 8B and 12, which keep all workers in the state above the Portland-area minimum wage, regardless of where they work.
Maintained low shift meal costs for UO food service workers, management had been trying to triple the cost of these meals for some of the lowest paid workers in the university system.
The tentative agreement reached Saturday marks a significant win for university workers at the University of Oregon, Portland State University, Oregon State University, Eastern Oregon University, Southern Oregon University, Western Oregon University, and the Oregon Institute of Technology. In the coming weeks, members will vote to ratify the contract.
“Classified workers are the backbone of Oregon’s universities,” said Rob Fullmer, bargaining team chair and IT specialist at Portland State University. “This contract acknowledges the incredible value that university workers bring to our students and to our campuses. When Oregon’s public employees work together and make their voices heard, we have the power to move Oregon families forward and make our state a better place.”
We were only able to come this far because you are your coworkers were ready to stick together and walk out on Monday. Together, we fought back take-aways proposed by management on wages, health care, steps, and personal days, and won higher wages for all workers. This hard-fought victory is a testament to the strength and solidarity of you and your coworkers. We have never built a campaign this strong, which is why we won the best contract we have seen in over a decade.