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.

There They Go, Again!

Higher Ed Management Proposals Not Unified Across State, Return to the “Big Three,” Attack Health Care, Steps, and More

We met for bargaining on Thursday and Friday, April 9th and 10th. This session ended on a very discouraging note. While we were hopeful of an early settlement, it is apparent that we will be digging in for a long and contentious fight for a fair and equitable settlement.

You may remember that management had proposed bargaining only economics this cycle. Our response was that we could agree, provided we would have one unified” economic package that was fair and equitable across all campuses. Management would not commit to unified economics until the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) finalized their new funding model, which they did on Thursday, April 9th.   Based on that model, management decided to give us two separate proposals for wages, health insurance, and other financial issues. One would cover SOU and the other would cover the other six campuses.

Although these proposals are currently identical, they were presented separately to allow SOU the ability to “opt out” if the negotiations proceed to a settlement that SOU Management does not support. Without the commitment to a full statewide approach, our team is continuing with the full bargaining process.

What follows are some of the“lowlights” of the Management proposal. Our team will continue to push for our proposals. Let your bargaining table rep know your thoughts. (See below for email addresses of bargaining team members.)

Management’s proposals


  • Step increases delayed one year in each of the two years
  • COLAs .5% December 1, 2015, .5% June 1 2016, .5% December 1, 2016, and .5% June 1, 2017
  • No selective increases
  • Decrease salary increases in the IT Comp plan

Health Insurance

  • A cap (as yet undefined) on the employer premium contribution in the first year
  • A limit of 3.4% premium increase in the second year. Amounts above 3.4% would be our responsibility
  • Elimination of the Part Time subsidy

A Sampling of Major Language Takeaways

  • Eliminate the requirement to do a feasibility study when contracting out our jobs
  • Eliminate overtime after 8 hours a day and calculate the 40 hours using only “time worked”
  • Restrict bumping rights to one opportunity
  • Require call-in notification 4 hours prior to requesting sick leave
  • Drastically reduce management’s “burden of proof” when presenting their case to an Arbitrator

In addition to these, management is refusing to negotiate the appeals process for the new class and comp system despite the current contract requiring such negotiations.


It is time to fight back! Please join your Local leaders and your Bargaining Delegate in visiting your FADM Vice President to demand a fair contract. A contract that is equitable and fair across all seven campuses. Click here to join in.

Register for our next Higher Ed Lobby Day (April 20). Travel to Salem to meet with your legislators to lobby for adequate funding for Higher Ed as well as their support for our Fair Shot campaign. Click here to register.

Upcoming bargaining sessions

  • April 23rd and 24th at SOU
  • May 7th and 8th at OSU Cascades in Bend
  • May 28th and 29th at EOU
  • June 7th and 8th location TBD

Please plan to visit your Team and observe bargaining when we come to your campus.


Your Higher Ed Bargaining Team:

Marc Nisenfeld, Chairperson (marc.nisenfeld@gmail.com)
EOU: Helen Moore (hmoore13@yahoo.com)
OIT: Bob Klem (13thtribe@live.com)
OSU: Gloria O’Brien (obrieng60@gmail.com)
PSU: Greg Marks (marksg99@hotmail.com)
SOU: Colleen Martin-Low (horsetrails97537@gmail.com)
UO: Johnny Earl (johnnyearl59@yahoo.com)
WOU: Trisha Guy (tridguy@gmail.com)




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Higher Ed Bargaining Team: Ready to Bargain a United Contract! In It together!

Over the last 5 weeks, we’ve been exploring bargaining over economics only with a condition: We are committed to having the same economic settlement for all classified Higher Education SEIU workers, but management is still trying to keep its options open. The universities can settle a fair contract if they prioritize workers. We sent a clear message:  We can wait no longer.  We will be ready to begin bargaining a full contract at our next session, April 9th and 10th, unless they commit then that all workers will be treated equally in economics-only bargaining.

Please support your bargaining team and send a message of unity to your campus VP of Finance.

Our team also presented our proposal for a joint appeals process when the new classification system is implemented. Lastly, Elevator mechanics, Groundskeepers and RNs made strong compelling selective presentations.

Oregon State University SEIU members, students and faculty joined a noon rally to hear a report on bargaining and show their unity for a strong contract and for our Fair Shot priorities.

We will meet again on April 9 and 10 at the University of Oregon. We expect to determine with management then whether we will bargain economics only, or return to traditional bargaining.  We are ready to move in either direction but need you to send a clear message to the VP of Finance on your campus and ask them to prioritize workers during their budgeting and insist on one economic package for all seven campuses.

Mark your calendars: Another way to help your bargaining team is to attend the Higher Education Day at the Legislature on April 20 to speak directly to decision makers about our priorities.

Our next bargaining sessions are:
April 9 and 10, at UO
April 23 and 24, at SOU
May 7 and 8, at Cascades Campus (Bend – OSU)
May 28 and 29, at EOU
June 7 and 8, TBD

In Solidarity,

Higher Ed Bargaining Team

Marc Nisenfeld, PSU (Chair)
Bob Klem, OT (Alternate Chair)
Trisha Guy, WOU
Johnny Earl, UO
Gloria O’Brien, OSU
Helen Moore, EOU
Colleen Martin-Low, SOU
Gregory Marks, PSU


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Stand Up for A Fair Shot And Unified Contract

In bargaining at PSU last week, a coalition of student groups, faculty unions, community supporters, and SEIU delivered a unified message in our campus rally (click for pictures) and at the bargaining table: We support a Fair Shot for higher ed employees and all Oregonians! Our proposals in negotiations and in the legislature would ensure just that. Click here to see the Fair Shot agenda and take action.

We are still in discussions with management over whether to bargain only on economic items. We are prepared to do so only if we could be assured that we will be treated fairly and equally across all seven campuses. We cannot accept a contract that does not treat members at all campuses equally. We are In It Together!

At our rally, speaking on behalf of the Fair Shot Coalition and in support of SEIU bargaining, a PSU student (representing ASPSU), two faculty members (from AAUP and PSUFA/AFT), and Bargaining Team Chair Marc Nisenfeld addressed the crowd of over 100 about the coalition’s common goals.

In additional developments at the bargaining table, 25-plus early childhood educators from the PSU Helen Gordon Center made a powerful case about their classification’s pay range being below market and undervalued; and that was followed by a well-grounded presentation of PSU paralegal employees and supporters. More presentations for selectives are scheduled for upcoming bargaining at OSU and UO.

The best way to support your bargaining team and to continue to fight for a Fair Shot for all is to send your legislator an email message and register to attend the next Higher Ed Lobby Day in Salem on April 20. Please attend a bargaining session when we come to your campus:

  • March 19 & 20: Oregon State University
  • April 9 & 10: University of Oregon
  • April 23 & 24: Southern Oregon University
  • May 7 & 8: OSU Cascades Campus
  • May 28 & 29: Eastern Oregon University
  • June 4 & 5: TBD

In Unity,

Higher Ed Bargaining Team

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

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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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Sign up for Lobby Days 2015!

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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