Union workers strike averted; Oregon officials settle

The scheduled walkout off around 5000 union workers from different public universities in Oregon will not push through after the bargaining team and university officials came out with a tentative agreement for the workers.

Voice of the union workers

This is not the typical union workers that is mostly composed of contractual jobs in the institution as the involvement of classified staffs made this protest much more interesting. Classified staffs include everyone essential in the success of the universities, from food services, librarians, healthcare workers, legal and academic counseling, engineers, scientists, building maintenance, registration facilitators, scholarship grant aids, IT, and tech supports.

This campus-wide organized protest will make a huge impact on the universities’ operation, especially that classes will begin to resume by October. State university workers are airing their concern on the lack of salary compensation. Majority of these workers are only earning $25,000 to $40,000 annually, while school administrators are enjoying six-figure salaries accompanied by numerous benefits and incentives.

According to Alejandro Segurra, an IT worker at Portland State University:

 I’m willing to go on strike because I don’t think it’s fair that people get paid with wages that won’t make them survive

Theresa Stapleburg, a worker at Portland State library said:

 I want to join the strike because, for 24 years of service, I think I do deserve a reasonable raise- a wage considered to be livable.

A tentative agreement to calm the storm

The bargaining team of the Service Employee International Union (SEIU) has come to amends with university presidents with a tentative agreement. The agreement will be voted to ratify by the union workers and with start implementation in November.

I am incredibly grateful to the members of the bargaining team for their countless hours of work just to come up with the agreement

                                                                -Mark Schmelz, University of Oregon Chief Human Resource Officer

The initial information on the resolution was as follows:

On Saturday morning, the bargaining team from the seven Oregon public universities and the SEIU reached a tentative agreement on a two-year labor contract. The new contract covers about 4,500 classified staff members who are part of the SEIU. They acknowledge the important roles that classified staffs play on most university academic and administrative departments.

Summary of agreement with the union workers

  • 3% cost of living adjustment for all classified employees effective July 1, 2019, with an additional 2.1% for the next year if applicable.
  • A 2.5% premium for employees working for the university for at least 5 years.
  • A commitment to maintain above minimum wage for all entry-level wages on all universities.
  • A 48 hour paid overtime agreement.
  • Moved 15 job classifications to higher salary grades.
  • 4.75% wage increase yearly.
  • Meal cost adjusted for dining services at the University of Oregon
  • All other benefits from the 2017-2019 contracts will remain for the next contract.

 

Union workers from the SEIU will vote to ratify the contract settlement this October, with expected implementation starting November this year. Good thing that university officials made quick amends before things got worse as classes are about to start by October.