Oregon University System

OUS members in SEIU t-shirts behind a large banner that says 'No Contract? No Peace!'

Oregon University System members work as classified employees at seven campuses in Oregon: Eastern Oregon University, Portland State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Southern Oregon University, University of Oregon, and Western Oregon University.

Higher Ed Bargaining Team Holds Firm, One Union = One Contract! We Are In It Together!

One of Higher Ed members’ highest priorities is to resist efforts to further divide our bargaining unit. This was stated clearly in our bargaining surveys, in worksite meetings, and in other communications with bargaining team members.

When management proposed the unprecedented concept of continuing with our current contract language and only bargaining economic issues, our team responded in kind. We embraced that concept and proposed moving forward, but only if we could be assured that we would be treated fairly and equally across all seven campuses. We cannot accept a contract that treats members at one campus different than members at any other campus. We are In It Together! Members and allies rallied at UO on Friday in support. Click here for rally pictures.

Management is currently considering our proposal (contact your Bargaining Delegate for more details) and discussions are continuing. We may receive a response and/or counter-proposal when we meet to bargain March 5th and 6th at PSU. If not at PSU, then definitely when we meet March 19th and 20th at OSU.

We are excited about the possibility of working together with management to arrive at a settlement that is fair and equal for all members as well as sustainable by all campuses. We need your help to make this happen. Attend a bargaining session when we come to your campus and PLEASE register to attend the next Higher Ed Lobby Day in Salem on April 20.

In addition to March 5th and 6th at PSU, and March 19th and 20th at OSU, we have secured the following dates:

  • April 9th and 10th (location tbd)
  • April 23rd and 24th (location tbd)
  • May 7th and 8th (location tbd)
  • May 14th and 15th at PSU
  • June 4th and 5th (location tbd)

In Unity,

Higher Ed Bargaining Team

Marc Nisenfeld, PSU (Chair)
Angie Barry, WOU (Alternate Chair)
Johnny Earl, UO
Donna Stevenson, OSU
Helen Moore, EOU
Colleen Martin-Low, SOU
Gregory Marks, PSU
Bob Klem, OIT


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Higher Ed Bargaining Team demands “Fair Shot,” Pay/Benefit Improvements, Affordable Education

In two days of bargaining leading up to the weekend, the parties exchanged opening proposals, and more bargaining is scheduled in two weeks (February 26 & 27), at the University of Oregon. This is the first round of bargaining since the Legislature approved the abolishment of the Chancellor’s Office and the Oregon University System (OUS), with several of the former functions of that office, including statewide collective bargaining, being performed by the newly-established University Shared Services Enterprise (USSE).

Bargaining took place at WOU, and member-interest was high, with an opening turnout from many WOU classified and several student supporters. See some pictures, below.

We are seeking to continue the steps taken in the last contract to reverse the effects of the Great Recession and the trends toward growing income inequality in the country as a whole, with a range of proposals, including:

  • Fair Pay: Cost of Living Adjustments Better Than Inflation (CPI & 2%). The Union proposal is “Effective July 1, 2015, salary rates shall be increased by a percentage equal to the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the Portland, OR metropolitan area from 2013 to 2014 plus two percentage points (CPI + 2%).” And, effective July 1, 2016, a similar calculation for that year’s COLA.
  • Catch Up: Keep Steps in Place plus Add a Step at the Top. Our Union Bargaining Team is proposing that, effective July 1, 2015, one step will be added to the top of each salary range in the Compensation Plan. The economy is continuing to improve, and it is important that income growth be experienced as much or more at the working families’ level as well as at the highest levels of business.
  • Living Wages for All: $15/Hour for direct employees and contractor employees. This proposal would set a $15/hour wage floor in Oregon’s universities, for classified employees, and also for employees of university contractors. The “Fight for 15” is being recognized around the country as a call to action to put a stop to the problem of employers paying some of their workers so little they could qualify for public assistance, in effect relying on public subsidies for their employees to be able to make ends barely meet. Around 2,700 university employees around the State now earn below the income level for a family of four to qualify for food stamps.
  • Fair Benefits: Same Full Health Coverage for Part-Time Classified as for Part-Time Unclassified Workers. Part-time unclassified employees in Oregon’s universities currently qualify for full-time health care coverage. Our proposal is for part-time classified employees to have the same benefit.
  • University Affordability: Keep Tuition at a Level Oregon’s Students Can Afford, Restrain Administrative Bloat. Our bargaining team has two proposals aimed at tackling the problem of tuition debt and raising tuition costs: First, we propose that the parties join together to request the Legislature reverse decades of declining higher education budgets with a $755 million funding bill, this year. (Even that would only restore funding levels to the 2008/09 level, but it would be a start.) We are already working in coalition with students and faculty groups to achieve this goal. As part of this funding level, we propose that universities target these new funds overwhelmingly toward instructional expenditures; and that they restrict the ratio of classified staff to Administrative/Managerial staff to a ratio of not less than 7 to 1, which would still be a lower standard than state agencies are targeting to meet, but is above the current levels.
    A second proposal is that the parties should establish a committee to engage in a dialogue over the future of Oregon Higher Education with represented classified workers, management, students, faculty, and others within the Higher Education community to explore solutions for tuition affordability, reduced enrollment growth, serving Oregon’s student population and the State economy, and other long-range challenges.

Other proposals

Additional economic proposals we are putting forward include a range of differentials, selective salary increases, and more. For instance, our Bargaining Team has proposals for increases in the bilingual differential, high work differential, and shift differential; and several selectives presentations are in the works.

Also, we have submitted a number of ideas for gains in member representation rights, and other non-economic improvements, from Job Fairs, to strengthening Language to Protect against Bully Bosses, and more. The non-economic proposals are many and varied. They were drawn primarily from feedback from members through the bargaining surveys. Please contact your bargaining table representative if you would like to ask about particular issues. Also, as bargaining moves forward and these issues are discussed, more detailed information will be distributed.

Management has, in keeping with past years, not yet introduced its economic proposals while awaiting more information about the legislative budget. A range of proposals on non-economic items it has introduced still require further review by the bargaining team, but some appear to continue the trend toward greater fragmentation of the statewide public university system into 7 separate entities, each with its own set of rules, pay, or benefits. Bargaining at UO in less than 2 weeks should provide more information.

How You Can Help

The best way to support bargaining is to join bargaining actions on your campus and to join lobby days to fight for a Fair Shot for all Oregonians. Our first lobby day is an Economic Justice Lobby Day on February 24 – visit the Fair Shot website for more information.  Our next bargaining session is February 26 and 27, at the University of Oregon. Other bargaining sessions have been scheduled through March, as follows:

The bargaining schedule we have established with management, so far, is as follows:

March 5 & 6: Portland State University

March 19 & 20: Oregon State University

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University of Oregon Police Department unanimously ratifies first contract!

UOPD Photo 1We are excited to announce that after twelve months of bargaining, the UO Police Department unanimously ratified their first contract with the University of Oregon.

Members remained united throughout negotiations that lasted more than a year, supporting the bargaining team in beating back changes to schedules and overtime exemptions and winning on wages, differentials and working conditions.


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Lobby Days 2015: Our chance to make our voices heard at the Capitol

SEIU care providers at a lobby day at the Oregon State CapitolDo you want to make sure everyone, including SEIU 503 members, has a fair shot to get ahead? Do you want to improve the quality of public services, increase wages and win retirement security for all Oregonians? Come talk to our legislators about the issues that affect you, your family, your community and your job.

SEIU Lobby Days are our chance to make our voices heard by lawmakers. They are our opportunity to impact decisions on the state budget and to hold legislators accountable to pass legislation that will help working families make ends meet and will support strong communities. In recent legislative sessions, members came to the Capitol and helped establish fiscally sound manager-to-staff ratios, restore funding for services for seniors and people with disabilities, avoid layoffs, and pass foreclosure protections.

Sign up here to tell your story at the Capitol.

In 2015, join other SEIU members and allies to protect quality services and living-wage jobs by lobbying our legislators. Come tell your story and stand up for a strong budget that prioritizes both our workers who keep Oregon running and the Oregonians who rely on us. Legislators need to hear your perspective from the front lines, not just the voices of corporate lobbyists. Our stories will help ensure all Oregonians, including SEIU 503 members, have a fair shot to get ahead.

Sign up today! Join your co-workers and tell your story in Salem.

See you at the Capitol!

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Isn’t it time we all had a Fair Shot?

Fair Shot OregonAfter great success last year in making sure our elected officials were ready to stand up for women and working families, Fair Shot For All—a group of labor and community organizations united for economic justice—is expanding our coalition and sharpening our focus to pass policies that give all Oregonians a fair shot at success.

Here’s a snapshot of the Fair Shot priorities for the upcoming legislative session:

  • Raising the minimum wage;
  • Ensuring all Oregonians earn paid sick days;
  • Ending profiling;
  • Making saving for retirement easier; and
  • Creating opportunities for people with prior convictions and arrests to get work.

And at the same time many families are struggling to get by, out-of-state corporations are reaping record profits. Each year, Oregon taxpayers hand over $1.7 billion to subsidize corporations’ reliance on a low-wage workforce. And to make matters even worse, those same corporations have invested millions in lobbying to keep Oregon’s corporate taxes the lowest in the nation—a grotesque case of corporate double-dipping.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In 2015 we’re going to keep fighting at the bargaining table, in the capitol and in our communities to make sure working families in Oregon are getting a fair shot at getting ahead, not just getting by. Together, we’ll be sending a signal to lawmakers that when we pursue solutions that address inequality and create opportunity, we all benefit.

We hope that you’re “In It Together” with us and this groundbreaking coalition. To receive the latest updates on the campaign and how you can help, follow Fair Shot Oregon on Facebook and Twitter and share with your friends.


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Higher Ed workers: Read union comments on draft classifications

We are nearing the end of the first step of the Classification and Compensation review process. The review and comment period for the M&O Specialist classification will be wrapped up in January. Thank you to all who took the time to participate in a meeting on your campus or shared information through the online survey. To read the comments we forwarded to Higher Ed administration, please click the link for your job family below (pdf download):

During 2015 bargaining, we will negotiate an appeals process for workers to contest their placement in the new classification system if they choose to appeal. Universities will begin allocating workers to the new classifications after bargaining concludes sometime in late summer/early fall of 2015. Wages for the new classifications will be negotiated during the 2017 bargaining session. If you have any questions, please contact your campus organizer.

Click here to see an FAQ.

In Solidarity,
Marc Nisenfeld, PSU
Johnny Earl, UO
Trisha Guy, WOU
MaryAnn Neely, SOU
Classification and Compensation Committee

Campus Organizers:
OSU: Mike Coutley,     920-639-2166
EOU: Amy Marvin,     541-276-4983, x802
WOU: Melissa Silbernagel,     503-581-1505 x144
PSU: Joe Cartino,     503-408-4090 x405
SOU and OIT: David Meyers,     541-779-4324 x 851
UO: Denise Garrett (x306) or Rolando Figueroa (x302), 541-342-1055

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In it Together: SEIU members at UO support Graduate Teaching Fellows

Graduate Teaching Fellows rally on the UO campus, holding signs that say "Ready to strike"

SEIU Local 085 members at University of Oregon value and support our graduate employees

WE STAND TOGETHER with the University Senate, the University of Oregon Faculty United Academics (UA), the Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN), and the Student Labor Action Project (S.L.A.P.), a student organization fighting for social and economic justice, in support of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) fight for an equitable contract that honors and values their work, and provides medical and parental leave.

For the past several years we have faced tough bargaining for continued health care benefits and fair wages. Our workload has increased, and they tried to take away our overtime and layoff rights.

The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) has voted to authorize a strike. Our GTFs do not want to strike. Similar to us, they would rather agree to an equitable contract that meets the needs of graduate employees. Our GTFs are paid minimum wages that fall more than $200 below what the University of Oregon’s own Financial Aid Office estimates it costs to live as a graduate student, and they have no form of paid leave from work if they are ill, injured, or have recently had children.

We know how important health care benefits are – the value of medical and parental leave – for our individual well being, and what it means for our families. While we deal with the University Shared Services Enterprise (USSE), the GTFF deals directly with the University of Oregon. In either case, the tactics are the same: they claim there is not enough money while paying $300 an hour for a lawyer to sit at the table. Now they are delaying and refusing to consider fair proposals. Our three Unions, along with the Teamsters and the UO PD Union (also part of SEIU), represent approximately 5000 employees who make this University the place of quality education  and learning that our students deserve.

You can show your support!

SEIU Local 085, representing Classified Staff, will be coordinating with the GTFF to join together in action to support a fair contract for the graduate employees. Keep watching your email and Union bulletin boards for notice of these actions. Bring your rain gear and plan to join us.

Our Union contract prevents us from engaging in “any strike, or walkout or commit any other acts of work stoppage during the term of this Agreement“. What we do on our own time, however, is ours. You are encouraged to take actions in support of GTFF members such as walking picket lines or passing out flyers before or after your regular work shift, during your lunch or break time. You must make sure, however, not to do anything that can be viewed as withholding your labor or refusing to go to work. If you wish, you may take vacation or comp time to come out and lend your support to our fellow unionists.

The University’s Academic Freedom Policy encourages open and free discussion of a wide variety of issues. Really, nothing is off the table, including discussions of the issues around why the GTFF is on strike. Share your thoughts and reasons for supporting them with co-workers, supervisors and other interested parties. Also, hang some GTFF strike signs in your work space. There is a great In It Together sign with the logos of GTFF, SEIU and UA available on our web site: http://local085.seiu503.org/

In the event that you are asked to perform the work normally done by a GTF, evaluate whether such duties are in your position description. If not, this likely constitutes work out of class. Our contract does not expressly address this issue, so it would be best to not refuse, though you could mention that you will do so under protest. If you feel that you are not qualified for these duties, be sure to bring this up to your supervisor.  All communications, including the original instruction, should ideally be in writing. We also want you to contact a Union Steward should you be placed in this position. Please call the Steward Hotline at 541-346-0321 to report a request to do the work normally performed by a GTF.

AND you can SIGN THE SUPPORT PETITION: http://gtff3544.net/

Join UO faculty, staff, and students and tellUniversity administration that GTFs deserve a fair and equitable contract.

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Higher Ed Bargaining starts now! Complete the survey today

What are your priorities for our union contract negotiations in 2015? How will you help yourself and your coworkers win a fair contract? How will we use our power at the bargaining table to lift standards for all Higher Education constituencies, including students? Our higher education bargaining team needs your ideas and suggestions to win the best possible contract–for us, and for our communities.

Please take 15 minutes to complete an online bargaining survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2015HigherEdSurvey

Bargaining team members will use the ideas you share to develop proposals and determine our top priorities.

We know that bargaining is most successful when members are engaged in the process. Please complete the survey today to make your voice heard!

In Unity,

Your SEIU Higher Education Bargaining Team,

Marc Nisenfeld, PSU & Chair
Angie Barry, WOU & Alternate Chair
Johnny Earl, UO
Donna Stevenson, OSU
Helen Moore, EOU
Colleen Martin-Low, SOU
Gregory Marks, PSU
Bob Klem, OIT

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PEBB announces September face-to-face meetings for 2015 health plans

PEBB has just announced that they will do a series of meetings around the state to inform us about our health care choices for 2015.  Increased communication is something our committee has pushed for and we are glad to see an expanded list of in-person meetings happening prior to October open enrollment.  Click here to find the meeting closest to you – the meetings start this Thursday, Sept. 4th.

As a reminder, there are two big pieces of good news around our health insurance:

  • We will receive our cost of living adjustment (COLA) this month (3 months early!) – the 2% COLA will go into effect on Sept. 1, 2014 thanks to union contract language that puts money unspent on healthcare into our paychecks.  This is a direct result of health care premiums going slightly down in 2015.
  • If full-time members choose the least costly plan in their area, their premium share will be reduced from 5% to 3%.

These steps forward are due to increased member activism around contract negotiations and healthcare, and to effective advocacy by our union PEBB representatives. Despite these gains, we still believe the state has a ways to go in improving our work environments so that we can all be healthier.  We will provide updates as we make further recommendations to PEBB.

In Unity,

Your PEBB Member Advisory Committee (PMAC) Representatives
Keary DeBeck, Labor Chair for the Committee, Dept. of Justice
Cary Fardal, Oregon State Hospital
Wednesday Martin, DHS Vocational Rehabilitation
Shaun Parkman, Oregon Health Authority
Siobhan Martin, SEIU Staff Advisor

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Two big wins for state and university workers put money in members’ pockets!

Exciting news: two more wins coming out of our 2013 contract campaigns with the State and OUS!

As you know, healthcare has been and will likely continue to be a major point of contention in contract negotiations. In 2013, our bargaining teams negotiated two key provisions that would not only hold the line, but begin to regain some of the lost ground around healthcare. Today, we’re happy to report these victories have been realized:

1) Reducing the 5% premium share down to 3% for those members who select the lowest cost plan in their area, even if there’s only one plan to choose from. This necessitated at least 95% of members having more than one plan to choose from, and PEBB’s recent plan selections made this a reality. Not only does this put more money in members’ pockets but it also expands healthcare choices for members in rural Oregon. Click here to see which plan has the lowest costs in your county. (updated 7/30/2014, pdf download)

2) Moving up the effective date of the next cost-of-living raise (COLA) if healthcare costs come in below projections. Based on the rates recently adopted by PEBB, it now looks like the effective date of the COLA will be moved up at least to September 2014 (instead of the originally planned 12/1/14). We expect to know the exact effective date within the next week and will keep you updated.

More information on these provisions can be found in the State worker contract Article 31 and the OUS worker contract Article 21 and Article 24.

These victories were possible because of the great power of members coming together to push for fairness, and from the aggressive and strategic work of our PEBB representatives in advocating for better healthcare quality and pricing. And none of this would have been possible without our strong voice in the Capitol, powered by the Citizen Action for Political Education (CAPE) program. Please click here to contribute to CAPE to strengthen our voice and enable future healthcare victories.

At a time when public sector workers are suffering enormous roll-backs to their healthcare, it’s exciting to see that we can work on positive solutions that bring down costs and share those savings with front-line workers.

In Solidarity,

Heather Conroy, SEIU 503 Executive Director
Keary DeBeck, State Worker Bargaining Co-Chair
Marc Nisenfeld, OUS Worker Bargaining Chair
Dan Smith, State Worker Bargaining Co-Chair

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