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.

Victory at UO!

In early May, housing and food service members at UO – many of whom are student workers – received an email from administration advising them that beginning next September, they would be charged for meals that were once provided as a benefit of the job. This could potentially offset wages for these members, typically the lowest paid on campus, by nearly $700 per year. The offsetting of any wages or benefits is something that needs to be bargained, not imposed.

uo meal

Members gather before meeting with admin to review proposed meal costs.

Nearly 20 classified staff at UO united and spoke out at meeting with food and housing services administration to protect this long-time benefit. “I manage student workers at the American English Institute,” classified staff member Zach Benedict told administrators. “Many of them only work in food services because of the meal benefit. It’s the one meal they can depend on.” Classified staff quickly moved a petition gaining over 300 hundred signatures in support of the food service workers that was delivered to UO administration in handful of days.

Just five days after the initial meeting with UO admin, classified staff hand-delivered over 100 completed petitions demanding that a charge in meals be bargained in the January 2017 economic re-opener. On Friday, June 10, UO’s Director of Human Resources Wes Fowler contacted SEIU 503 and stated: “We have seriously considered the concerns raised by you and your members, and your stated desire that this issue should instead be negotiated during our mid-term bargaining session starting in January 2017. For that reason, the University will defer this issue and raise it again during mid-term bargaining next year.”

By quickly moving into action, the members of SEIU 503 Local 085 were able to protect meal benefits for the next academic year and prevent a nearly $700 reduction in wages for hundreds of members and student workers.

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Higher Ed workers win contract settlement!

We did it! Because higher ed workers have been standing strong together at campuses around the state, our bargaining team has won a contract settlement that features some of the highest cost of living adjustments (COLAs) higher education classified workers have seen in decades. The settlement also protects steps, health insurance benefits, and premium-share splits while shutting out the “Big Three” take-aways management initially proposed. It also corrects long-standing inequities against part-time workers and includes selective salary increases for seven classifications (a much higher number than usual).

Your bargaining team is very proud to be able to present this tentative agreement to the membership for ratification, and we look forward to answering all of your questions about the agreement and about bargaining during the ratification process.

Some of the highlights below; more details on the tentative agreement will be available during the ratification process

COLAs: 2.25 percent (12/1/2015), and 2.25 percent (12/1/2016)

Steps: Normal Steps

Health Insurance:

  • Protected existing premium splits
  • 95 percent (employer) – 5 percent (employee)
  • Possible 97 percent – 3 percent split if employee opts for lowest available plan
  • Part-time employees of .75 FTE or higher get “full coverage” (like unclassified PT)

No take-aways: Major take-aways beat back on contracting out, layoffs, overtime.


  • Campus Dispatcher (1 Range)
  • Co-Gen Engineer (1 Range)
  • Early Childhood Assistant (2 Ranges)
  • Early Childhood Associate Teachers (2 Ranges)
  • Elevator Mechanic (5 Ranges)
  • Mid-Level Nurse Practitioner (2 Ranges)
  • Paralegal 1 (3 Ranges)
  • Paralegal 2 (3 Ranges)
  • Paralegal 3 (3 Ranges)

Union rights:

  • Two new steward slots at WOU
  • Chief Steward mentoring rights increased

Term of agreement: Four years, with a reopener after two years on economics only.

Temporary workers: Temp workers now eligible for shift differential.

This settlement has not come easy: Management’s early economic proposals included major take-aways across the board on member rights, harsh health insurance proposals like an employer contribution cap, a one-year freeze on steps, and more.

It’s only because workers stood strong together throughout bargaining that we were able to beat back this slate of attacks and move higher ed workers forward. We benefited from the activism on the near-strike of two years ago, from members’ work to help elect a pro-worker legislature and governor who then funded higher education with record-high budget increases, and from thousands of members who raised their voices to protest management’s attempts to pay as little as possible and take away hard-won union rights.

Please watch for more details on the tentative agreement and on ratification information and voting meetings soon, and contact your organizer or bargaining table representative if you have questions in the meantime. We look forward to seeing you at a ratification vote on your campus soon!

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New report underscores need to move Higher Ed workers forward

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute has shined a light on the need to move Oregon’s Higher Ed workers forward.

The EPI’s updated Basic Family Budget Calculator estimates the income a family needs to secure a safe and decent — yet modest — living standard in the community in which the family resides. The calculator takes into account the cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities and taxes for families. The calculator does not include savings for retirement, for a rainy day or for college. It is based on 2014 costs data.

Strikingly, 12 percent–or one out of eight–higher ed workers statewide live below the Basic Family Budget for a single adult with no children. A whopping 94 percent of higher ed workers statewide live under the EPI’s assessed basic family budget for a family of four (see chart below for a campus-by-campus breakdown).

The report comes in the midst of an especially contentious bargaining cycle in which management has proposed inadequate wages increases and take-backs on benefits and workplace rights. Workers are moving to strike at the end of September if management proposals don’t improve. Higher Ed workers can click here to sign the strike petition; allies can click here to show support.


Single adult, no children Single adult, 1 child Two adults, 1 child Two adults, 2 children
Monthly Corvallis Basic Family Budget wage $2,208 $4,070 $4,766 $5,448
# of OSU workers below threshold* 91 1,210 1,325 1,422
Total OSU Classified workers 1,526 1,526 1,526 1,526
% of OSU workers below threshold* 6% 79% 87% 93%
Monthly Eugene-Springfield Basic Family Budget wage $2,247 $4,120 $4,792 $5,475
# of UO workers below threshold* 229 1,373 1,488 1,582
Total UO classified workers 1,661 1,661 1,661 1,661
% of UO workers below threshold* 14% 83% 90% 95%
Monthly Medford-Ashland Basic Family Budget wage $2,440 $4,091 $4,787 $5,469
# of SOU workers below threshold* 38 166 173 185
Total SOU Classified workers 195 195 195 195
% of SOU workers below threshold* 19% 85% 89% 95%
Monthly Portland Basic Family Budget wage $2,569 $4,296 $4,972 $5,650
# of PSU workers below threshold* 147 525 570 617
Total PSU Classified workers 671 671 671 671
% of PSU workers below threshold* 22% 78% 85% 92%
Monthly Salem Basic Family Budget wage $2,345 $4,008 $4,680 $5,319
# of WOU workers below threshold* 24 179 188 199
Total WOU Classified workers 217 217 217 217
% of WOU workers below threshold* 11% 82% 87% 92%
Monthly Rural Oregon Basic Family Budget wage $2,270 $3,729 $4,380 $5,041
# of EOU/OIT workers below threshold* 17 173 203 215
Total EOU/OIT Classified workers 235 235 235 235
% of EOU/OIT workers below threshold* 7% 74% 86% 91%
# of university workers below threshold* 546 3,626 3,947 4,220
Total university workers 4,505 4,505 4,505 4,505
% of university workers below threshold* 12% 80% 88% 94%

*Classified employees; comparison based on monthly full-time salary

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Higher Ed strike FAQ

Why are we preparing for a strike?
After months of bargaining, management’s position still falls far short of what higher ed workers need and deserve. In short, our goals are:

  • No Take-Aways. Management is still trying to take back important Overtime and Layoff rights established in our contract decades ago.
  • Respectable Raises. The University System has seen record high budget increases from the legislature.  Respect our hard work and recognize our past sacrifices – it’s time for us to see cost of living adjustments that move us forward.     
  • Quality Benefits. Protect key benefits like healthcare, and ensure equitable access to health care across the entire university community.

Click here for more detail on where bargaining proposals currently stand.

Classified staff members have already been making it clear that the university system’s union busting proposals and insulting economic offer are not acceptable – through email and letters to university and USSE officials, rallies, and petitions. But management’s bargaining team is not listening! That’s why we have to raise the stakes: we’re asking members to sign onto a strike pledge petition. Many times, workers making preparations to strike can convince management to start bargaining fairly and thus prevent a strike.

These preparations will serve the dual purpose of strengthening our position at the bargaining table and will also prepare us to launch a successful strike if it becomes necessary.

What can I do now to avoid a strike?
Continue to show solidarity with your coworkers, participate in workplace and campus actions, and sign a strike pledge to give our bargaining team the power to win the best contract possible. Signing a strike pledge is an indication of your intentions, but there are more steps to take before a strike could be called.

Will bargaining continue during strike preparations?
We are prepared to bargain at any time, even during strike planning and preparation.

Who decides to conduct a strike?
You do. Our Union bargaining team will ask for authorization from members to initiate a strike if necessary to move the management team, and all members will have the right to vote on the decision. If a strike occurs, the bargaining team would also make the decision to call for a vote of the membership to end the strike.

Who can vote?
All members in good standing. Fair share payers must first sign up as members to become eligible to vote.

Who can strike?
All members, fair-share payers and trial service employees in the bargaining unit may strike.

How long would a strike last?
We will decide. In the past, university strikes have been relatively brief, lasting for one week or less. Any decision to return to work will be made by the membership, hopefully as a result of a fair settlement.

If the strike lasts long enough will there be strike benefits?
Yes, but they won’t match short-term salary loss. Each month, $.50 per dues payer is placed in a Strike and Job Protection Fund with 30 cents allotted solely to pay benefits in the event of a strike.

Are all members expected to picket?
Yes. It is essential that we have strong picket lines throughout our strike to keep people from crossing our lines and to allow other unions and campus allies to support our strike. Strike benefits and hardship aid are only available to members who show up on the picket lines. Accommodations will be made for members with disabilities that prevent them from walking a picket line.

Can I be permanently replaced for striking?
There are no examples of Oregon public employers doing this. Should USSE attempt to create that precedent:
a) Our bargaining team would insist that any settlement be contingent on a return for all workers.
b) There is no doubt that our student, campus, and legislative allies would join us in pressuring USSE to abandon this approach.

What happens if a represented worker crosses our picket line?
While the law allows unions to sanction members for anti-union activity, and this has been done in rare occasions, this has never been an effective way to organize strike support. We would do all we could to convince fellow workers that it is in their best interests now and in the future to honor the line until a fair settlement is reached.

Will SEIU Local 503 sanction or fine members who cross picket lines?
It is important that everyone participate in a strike action so that we can win the best settlement as quickly as possible.  Though it’s disappointing when members choose to undermine the bargaining team and continue working during a strike, Local 503 has never sanctioned members for crossing a picket line.

What about health insurance during a strike?
Employees must work a minimum of 80 hours in a pay period to qualify for insurance benefits for the following month. Once members authorize a strike, part of the strategy in setting the strike date includes ensuring that full-time workers can complete their 80 hours for insurance eligibility. Part-time workers who walk the picket line can apply for hardship benefits to assist with COBRA payments to maintain insurance coverage.

Can I use accrued vacation and sick leave during a strike?
No, workers cannot use or accrue leave during a strike.

How will the strike affect retirement benefits and seniority?
Strike time is treated as unpaid leave. Strikers do not receive retirement benefits or seniority credit when they are on strike.

Can strikers get unemployment benefits while on strike?
No. You are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits while on strike.

Can anyone be fired or replaced for striking?
You cannot be disciplined for participating in a lawful strike. Although the law may allow the employer to permanently replace striking workers, it has not happened in previous public sector strikes and we would not return to work without protecting all workers as part of the strike settlement.

Won’t a strike play into their hands by saving management money?
A strike is our collective statement of power and purpose. We are taking the power out of the university’s hands and standing together to demand fair treatment. The money the university saves doesn’t make up for the power they lose when we stand united and in the end, if we strike, we’re asking management to dig deeper than they’d otherwise be willing to do.

Overview of Process to Determine a Strike:

  • Our Union Bargaining Team calls for a strike authorization vote based on what’s happening at the bargaining table. Determination of whether a strike authorization vote is needed will likely happen in September, based on when legally-required timelines run out.
  • Decision time: If members authorize a strike, the bargaining team has the ability to call a strike based on meeting the required timelines under the law which includes both sides laying out final offers and a “cooling off” period. The bargaining team will only call a strike if they believe our striking is necessary in order to win a better settlement.

What happens after the contract expires?
Even if the contract expires, the law requires “status quo” — i.e. “no change” — for all the economic aspects of employment until the bargaining timelines expire near the end of September. Non-economic provisions of the contract, like the grievance procedure for instance, can be discontinued until a new contract is settled.

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Higher Ed Bargaining: Final Offers Submitted After Management Declares Impasse

As required by law, both parties submitted their “final offers” on August 19, and Management’s offer is wholly inadequate to meet the needs of university classified workers. In search of areas for compromise, we have adjusted our bargaining position while holding to our goals for a  fair contract.

In short, our goals are:

  • No Take-Aways. Management is still trying to take back important Overtime and Layoff rights established in our contract decades ago.
  • Respectable Raises. The University System has seen record high budget increases from the legislature.  Respect our hard work and recognize our past sacrifices – it’s time for us to see cost of living adjustments that move us forward.     
  • Quality Benefits. Protect key benefits like healthcare, and ensure equitable access to health care across the entire university community.

Key Outstanding Issues Union Proposals Management Proposals
Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

*3 percent on 12/1/2015, with a flat dollar minimum of $85/month

*3 percent on 12/1/2016, with a flat dollar minimum of $90/month

*1.25 percent on first month following ratification.

*1.5 percent on 7/1/2016.

I.T. Comp Plan *Keep current IT comp plan structure *Keep current IT comp plan structure
Steps *Keep/continue normal steps *Keep/continue normal steps

*Retain regular premium share split of 95 percent (employer) and 5 percent (employee).

*Retain premium share level of  97 percent/3 percent for choosing lowest-cost plan available.

*Continue low-wage subsidy.

*Part-time workers at .75 FTE or higher qualify for full coverage.

*Retain Regular Premium Share Split of 95 percent (employer) and 5 percent (employee).

*Eliminate lower premium share level option (of 97 percent/3 percent).

*Continue low-wage subsidy.

*No change in insurance eligibility for part-time workers.


*Increase High Work Differential to $1.25/hr.

*Increase Regular Shift Differential to $1.25/hr.

*Increase Nursing Shift Differential to $1.85/hr.

*Change Lead Worker Differential to apply to all classifications, and to trigger if leading three (down from four) or more students.

*Extend High Voltage Differential to “all hours worked.”

*Create a “Project-based” bilingual differential even in non-bilingual-designated positions (based on supervisor assignment).

*Only increase High Work Differential to $1.25/hr.
Selective Salary Increases *Proposing 21 classifications for selective salary increases. *Proposing 6 classifications for selective salary increases.
Temporary Workers *Make temporary workers eligible for overtime after eight hours, and Shift, High Work, and Bi-Lingual Differentials *No
Overtime *Keep current contract language. *TAKE AWAY:  Change calculation of overtime hours to reduce eligibility.
Layoff *Keep existing contract rights. *TAKE AWAY:  Reduces job security by reducing bumping rights in layoff situation.
Early Retirement *Proposing agreement that if any group on campus is offered an early retirement plan, it will be extended to classified employees as well. *No
Term of Agreement Two years Four years with reopener after two years

Management Declares Impasse – Moves Us Closer to Possible Strike

At the end the last round of bargaining, management declared impasse – a step in the legal timelines that would allow them to impose their takeaways on us without our agreement. It’s up to us all, together, to let them know we will not stand for that!

Join the Fight for a Fair Contract at Your Campus

Beginning Monday, August 17,  campuses  began holding member meetings to discuss our plans to move higher ed workers—and our university communities—forward. One major theme of those meetings is to kick off our Strike Pledge petition—click here to sign the online version. If you were unable to attend one of the worksite meetings, you can either go to the online version or contact your Bargaining Delegate or Organizer to sign the paper version. If you have questions, click here to access the Q&A we posted. If your question isn’t answered there, please contact your Bargaining Delegate or Organizer.

Next Bargaining Sessions: 9/8-9 (PSU);  9/17-18 (UO).

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Higher ed bargaining update: Management declares impasse

Three Days of Bargaining and We’re Still Far Apart

On behalf of our members, our bargaining team is insisting on a fair contract for classified workers at Oregon’s Public Universities.  That means:

  • Recognize our willingness to sacrifice during the hard economic times, and make sure we catch up when times improve, as they have now with record-high budget increases from the Legislature and improvements in the overall economy. Management’s salary proposals won’t even keep up with inflation, let alone allow for some catching up.
  • Do not try to erode our members’ long-standing and important worker protections, such as overtime pay and layoff rights.
  • Protect key benefits like healthcare, and ensure Higher Education workers enjoy the same levels of benefits as our sisters and brothers in state agencies.

Fair Contract Offer Still Not In Sight

After three days of bargaining this week, our bargaining team’s best efforts, and over 100 WOU members and community members rallying to show their support for our team (click here for pictures), management is still not measuring up to any of these yardsticks.

Management Declares Impasse – Moves Us Closer to Possible Strike

At the end of the three days, management declared impasse – a step in the legal timelines that would eventually allow them to impose their insufficient proposals on us even without our agreement. Our Bargaining Team is united in resisting this strategy, and calls on members on all campuses to take action to help change management’s mind:  They can and must do much better!  We deserve much better!  They can now afford to do much better!

Join the Fight for a Fair Contract at Your Campus

In the coming weeks, each campus will hold member meetings to discuss our plans to move higher ed workers—and our university communities—forward. Watch for more details about your campus meeting, coming soon! And if you haven’t already, please click here to sign the petition for fairness for higher ed workers.

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Higher Ed Bargaining Update: Some Steps Forward – Some Steps Back

Click here to view more photos of the rally!

Click here to view more photos of the rally!

Pay, Benefits Under Negotiation – Take-Aways of Rights Still On the Table

Our bargaining is taking place at a time – less than a month after the Legislature finished their work – when Oregon Higher Education has been granted historically large budget increases, ranging from 13 percent to 28 percent, depending on the university. Many SEIU members across the campuses helped elect legislators who appreciated the important role of Higher Education in Oregon. These members also fought to secure funding increases. As part of the university communities where they work, classified employees should share in these budget increases, and have a fair and respectful contract. There ought to be good progress in bargaining.

However, two more days of bargaining this week brought some steps forward mixed with some steps in the wrong direction. Join your voice to those of your co-workers to let Management know you expect a settlement that will honor your work and the contribution classified workers make throughout Oregon Universities.

First, the good news:  Management has…

  • … increased their wage offer very slightly.  They changed their offer from .5 percent increases every 6 months (for four incremental increases) to a new offer of 1 percent on January 1, 2016 and 1 percent on January 1, 2017. In terms of dollars earned over the two-year period, the new proposal would be a small improvement, but at the end of the two year period, both proposals are at around 2 percent “roll-up” and both fall far short of what our bargaining team has in mind. See some of our current key proposals below.
  • … backed off their step freeze proposal in favor of normal steps. Having a step freeze on the table during a time of economic improvement has never made sense to the Union bargaining team.
  • … backed off their proposed health insurance limit, which would have pushed the risk for healthcare increases further onto workers.  This is a welcome change in the management proposals, and represents “good news.” However, the proposed deletion of the existing low-wage worker subsidy of $40 was not withdrawn. See below for a proposal in the “bad news” category.
  • …given us a proposal package that includes SOU, which insisted for months on having a separate pay and benefits proposal, along with the other six universities.
  • … agreed on a fair appeals process for the classification & compensation restructuring the universities are planning. If the classification/compensation restructuring continues forward, there will be an agreed-upon process for panels – consisting of equal numbers of management and union representatives – to hear appeals of decisions about where positions were allocated in the new structure.
  • … made two small but positive language changes related to a few differentials. One of these affects the bilingual differential, the other the shift differential. For the bilingual differential, it would continue to apply in the future to any employees whose positions specifically require bilingual skills, but there would no longer be a secondary requirement that the person was “recruited for” bilingual skills. The change related to the shift differential would make it easier for employees seeking a flexible work schedule to be granted that flexibility because the shift differential would not apply, in those cases, to any time that carried over into the hours between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. (the normal shift differential hours).

Now, the bad news (with a comparison to Union proposals on similar topics):

  • Even though Management improved their wage offer a tiny bit, it is still the same total 2 percent by the end of 2 years – an insufficient amount by far.  The Union proposal is currently 3.5 percent in the first year and 2.5 percent in the second.
  • On healthcare, Management has now replaced the insurance limit it withdrew with a doubling of the premium share requirement (i.e. workers would pay 10 percent of premium instead of the current 5 percent).  The Union Team proposal is to hold the actual cost of workers’ premium-share the same; to keep the low-wage worker subsidy; and to grant part-time classified workers the same rights regarding health insurance as those received by part-time unclassified employees.
  • SOU may have now “come into the fold” and joined the other six universities in the latest proposals, but instead all seven universities say they reserve the right, in the future, to go their separate ways on pay and benefits, thereby threatening to undercut the principle of equal pay for equal work across all seven universities. Our bargaining team has made clear we are bargaining for one classified worker contract across the entire state, with equal wages and benefits for everyone in the same jobs.
  • Management is continuing their proposed take-aways of long-standing member rights regarding Overtime and Layoff. The former proposal would change the calculation of “time worked” for the determination of overtime liability; the latter would reduce employee options for bumping in the event of a layoff. Our Union proposals simply continue the existing rights in these areas.

Additional Union Proposals

To date, Management is also rejecting additional Union proposals, including:

  • Over 20 proposed selective salary increases in specific classifications
  • A low-wage floor across-the-board (pegged at approximately $15/hour)
  • An additional step added to to the top of every salary range
  • An early-retirement incentive program
  • A proposal to set staffing ratio limits on the number of administrators and supervisors compared to classified employees
  • A proposal for a university-wide committee process to engage the whole community in the discussion of tuition affordability

Supporters Rally for Fairness

Over 75 OSU supporters rallied outside the Management Bargaining Team meeting room and sent a clear message – chanting, singing, and marching – that we want a fair contract and now’s the time to settle it. Click here to view photos from the rally.

Next Dates

The next bargaining dates will be on August 10-12 at WOU, with the State Mediator helping the process. Click here to make YOUR voice heard–sign the petition to campus presidents!

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Higher Ed Bargaining Update: Some Progress at the Table, But…


Click the picture above to view more photos from the rally!

…Management Still Seeking Take-Aways on Rights, Healthcare Cost Shift to Workers, 1-Year Step Freeze, and Insufficient Raises

Members Send Message with Rally and March Through Admin Building (Johnson Hall).

At the University of Oregon, last week, over 150 classified workers, students, and faculty showed their support for the union bargaining team, and sent a message to the Management Team, by rallying in front of Knight Library and then marching across campus and through the Administration Building with chants and signs calling for Management to “Stop the Take-Aways” and agree to a “Fair Contract.”

During the rally, members heard a report from Union Bargaining Team Chairperson, Marc Nisenfeld; sang spirited songs with the UO Labor Choir;  and heard pledges of solidarity from students (The Student Labor Action Project and Associated Students of Oregon at UO), unionized Graduate Students (Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation);  and faculty union President, Michael Dreiling (United Academics). SEIU Local 503 President Rob Sisk and Executive Director Heather Conroy also addressed the crowd to pledge  the support of all 55,000 SEIU Local 503 members to do whatever must be done to win a fair contract, and remind everyone that by standing up for a better university system, we are standing up for all Oregonians.

Still on the Table:  Attacks on Member Rights; Shifting Costs & Risk in Healthcare to Workers, a Freeze/Delay on Steps, and Sub-Sub-Par Raises

Even with some progress to report from this round of bargaining, significant threats from management proposals are still on the table, not to mention union priorities that have still not been addressed. They insist on moving Higher Ed workers backward through salary step freezes and forcing the costs of future health care cost increases onto workers. Moreover, they continue to refuse to engage with us over our proposals to streamline administrator/classified staffing ratios, or have a campus-wide committee process on keeping tuition affordable. And, they are still seeking to take away existing rights workers have in Overtime and Layoff Protections. For example, they have proposed to:

  • Shift more of the increases in health care costs to employees
  • Delay step increases for a year, each year (i.e. freeze steps, again, for a year)
  • Provide inadequate raises – of only ½ percent every half year
  • Take away existing worker protections and rights (changing the way overtime hours are calculated, and reducing bumping rights in a layoff – two of the “Big 3” issues we had to fight off in our last contract bargaining)
  • SOU still reserving the right to deviate from an eventual statewide settlement (that all six other universities are committed to)
  • Reject our proposed added step at the top of the pay scale, or our $15/hour wage floor, and
  • Reject our proposal to equalize classified part-time worker health coverage with unclassified part-time worker health coverage.

Some Progress:  11 More Articles and Letters of Agreement Resolved

At the end of two days of bargaining, with the support of members rallying and getting engaged, the teams were able to reach Tentative Agreement on 11 more contract provisions. While this is good progress, it still leaves serious issues to be addressed, as described above. Some of the resolved issues include:

  • Management withdrew their contracting out proposal which would have made it easier to contract out members’ jobs
  • With University Presidents committing in writing to continue the “Fee Privilege” program, our team withdrew our proposal on the subject.  A Union proposal to apply the discount program onto e-learning classes was dropped after multiple attempts to persuade the Management Team.
  • We gained the right to make and receive hardship donations to and from other newly established SEIU 503-represented  classified bargaining units (i.e. the UO and PSU police units).
  • The contract will provide for two additional steward slots at WOU, to allow for the growth in workforce and shift coverage.
  • The universities agreed to update their systems into the 21st Century and accept monthly data exchanges about union membership and other sign-ups or cancellations.
  • The parties agreed to move the contract provisions for how to deal with “bully boss” (or inappropriate workplace conduct) problems, from the back of the contract into the body of the contract to make it more visible and accessible.
  • With the creation of “Local Boards” on all campuses, the contract now will allow for a union observer to attend those boards (unless one of the Local Board members is already an SEIU designee).

Union Calls for Mediation

The law allows for either party in public sector bargaining to call for the assistance of a state mediator after 150 days of bargaining has elapsed and the parties are still not at settlement. The SEIU Local 503 bargaining team has called for this mediation process starting on July 20 at our bargaining session at OSU, with the hope that a mediator will be able to get bargaining going more rapidly.

Union Files Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against Universities for Refusal to Bargain over Classification/Compensation Appeals Process

To be fair to the employees affected by any classification/compensation plan restructuring, a reasonable system for dealing with appeals or challenges to the allocation decisions made during a transition from the old to the new system ought to exist. Our bargaining team is seeking to bargain for a fair appeals process, while management refuses to bargain over it, and have only been willing to discuss it within the Classification/Compensation Committee, where the Union merely has an advisory role. Given the impact such allocation decisions can have on employee compensation and because of the general importance of this subject, the Union is seeking a ruling from the Employment Relations Board to require Management to bargain over the subject.  If we prevail, this issue will be added to the list of remaining bargaining proposals to still be addressed.

Email Your President:  Respect Classified Employees!

Thank your University President for telling their team to withdraw their bad contracting out proposal, but let them know there’s a long way to go. Demand RESPECT as a member of the campus community and insist that your President tell the Management Bargainers to

  • Stop pushing take-aways of our existing rights!
  • Drop proposals to shift the risk and costs of healthcare onto workers!
  • Provide a respectable raise that helps make up for lost ground, and keep steps intact!

Next Bargaining Sessions:

July 20-21:  OSU

Aug. 10-12:  WOU

You helped set our bargaining priorities now it’s time to show your support for those priorities. Please show your support by attending the rally at your campus.

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Higher Ed Bargaining Update: So Close, Yet So Far

Higher Ed PSU rally 6/18/2015

Click the photo above to view more pictures from the Higher Ed bargaining rally at PSU!

In two frustrating days of bargaining at PSU last week, we came close to resolving another group of articles about non-economic, or “language” issues, except the universities could not reach agreement with us to use 21st century technologies and systems in our monthly exchanges of bargaining unit and membership data. So, even though we came close, we’re still far apart: this means a package of 12 articles and Letters of Agreement, including one of the major three “Takeaway” articles from two years ago – the article on Contracting Out – remains unresolved at least until our next bargaining session, July 9-10 at UO.

We’re also far apart on other remaining issues: Management is continuing to put forward its two other major “Takeaway” proposals from two years ago; i.e. to take away various existing overtime pay rights (including the 8-hour/day overtime rule) and to seriously restrict bumping rights for employees during layoffs. In addition, they are still proposing other serious attacks on current worker rights, such as the rights of employees who transfer between universities to carry over accrued leave balances.

Moreover, our efforts to achieve a fair appeals process for the pending classification and compensation restructuring and placement project through a parallel Committee process have made good progress, but still fall short of what our members need for fairness. Our Bargaining Team recognizes the importance to our members of getting this issue resolved correctly. And, of course, we are still far apart on almost all the pay and benefits issues, from health care coverage to cost of living adjustments, from differentials to selective salary increases, and more.

The members and the campus and surrounding community gave our bargaining team a boost, with a strong showing of over 100 supporters rallying in the Parks Blocks and then marching and chanting to the site of bargaining. PSU faculty leaders Kelly Cowan (PSU-FA/AFT President) and Gina Greco (PSU AAUP Leadership) addressed the crowd on the importance of Solidarity and in support of our slogan “In It Together;” and Jobs with Justice and student activists joined PSU members and SEIU’s traveling Flying Squadron of activists from around the State in sending a message to Management to settle this contract fairly. As bargaining resumed in the afternoon, workers from PSU’s Helen Gordon Center stood vigil, and dozens of marchers and Flying Squadron members attended to remind the Management Team of our bargaining issues, while our team presented our latest set of proposals.

Contract Extension?

Our Bargaining Team has requested that Management agree with us to extend the existing contract in light of the fact that it expires on June 30, and we are still far from concluding our negotiations. Management’s bargainers have committed to give us an answer by June 24, when they expect to be able to confer with their VPs.

We did get written confirmation of Management’s agreement to extend the existing low-wage worker health care subsidy through August. Our Bargaining Team’s proposals include continuing that subsidy through the next contract term, while Management is proposing to remove the subsidy.

Tell us about your community connections: Please click here to take a brief survey about your ties to your community. The information we are gathering can help us make connections between our members, their campuses and their communities, which in turn will strengthen our community ties if we wind up needing to seek their support during a contract dispute. Please take five minutes, click on the link and fill in the survey to assist with this effort.

Our next scheduled bargaining sessions are on…

  • July 9-10, UO
  • July 20-21 OSU
  • August 10-12, WOU


Your SEIU Local 503 Higher Ed Bargaining Team
Marc Nisenfeld, PSU (Chair)
Trisha Guy, WOU
Johnny Earl, UO
Gloria O’Brien, OSU
Helen Moore, EOU
Colleen Martin-Low, SOU
Gregory Marks, PSU
Bob Klem, OIT (Alternate Chair)

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Higher Ed Bargaining: Outstanding Issues

Here is a list of just some of the key outstanding issues at the bargaining table:

  • Raises (COLAs): Management is proposing just 2 percent over the life of the contract (4 increases of 1/2 percent.)
  • Steps: Another step freeze? Management is proposing essentially a one-year step freeze.
  • Health care: Management is proposing to shift even more of the risk for health care cost increases onto workers by capping increases in their contributions to 3.4 percent.
  • Take-Aways:
    • Contracting Out: making it easier to contract out classified workers’ jobs,
    • Overtime: eliminating our right to overtime after eight hours (and calculating the 40 hours only on “time worked”), and
    • Layoff Rights: restricting bumping rights during layoff to just one opportunity.

Union proposals:

  • Wages: Provide decent cost-of-living increases; add a step at the top of all salary ranges; and ring up the wage floor (as part of our statewide campaign for a $15/hr minimum);
  • Steps: No step freeze.
  • Health Care: Continue existing insurance programs, with 95 percent/5 percent (or 97 percent/3 percent) premium share split; parity with faculty and unclassified employees on fully paid health insurance for part-time employees.
  • Campus Administration: Streamline manager-to-staff ratios, focus attention on the “bully boss” problem, collaborate with entire campus communities to achieve the goal of affordable tuition, protect against misuse of student or temporary workers, and do more to assist workers looking for a clearer career path and advancement.
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