At 2:30 a.m. Thursday, the SEIU Local 503 bargaining team and the Oregon University System reached a tentative agreement. The agreement will now be sent to SEIU and its members for a mail ratification vote.
While details are still being released, major aspects of the deal include two full steps, which will allow workers to reach the top of their respected pay grade within nine years. The first step increase is guaranteed June 30, 2014 with the second guaranteed by June 30, 2015.
Workers will also see a cost of living raise, amounting to 1.5 percent on December 1, 2013 and 2 percent on December 1, 2014.
In addition, OUS will cover 95 percent of health insurance premiums, with employees covering the remaining five percent, as well as adjusting the salaries of locksmiths, medical aides, parking services representatives, physical therapists and refrigeration mechanics to market standards.
“We’re proud of this agreement, and the campaign that achieved it,” read the SEIU website. “We also believe that this is the best agreement that we could reach given financial realities of some OUS campuses.”
OUS interim chancellor Melody Rose said in a press release, “We are grateful to the members of the bargaining teams for working so hard to reach a settlement and avert a strike. OUS classified staff are key to every student’s success and experience throughout their time on our campuses. This is a fair, realistic settlement that recognizes their important role and contributions, but also the constrained resources in higher education in Oregon that remain an ongoing challenge.”
ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz, who spoke out in support of a strike earlier this month, continued his support of the classified staff.
“While we would have walked right alongside labor all the way through a strike, it is a fact that strikes are painful and require real sacrifice from each side,” Dotters-Katz said. “So to see the parties reach an agreement that is fair and just, enabling us to avoid all of that, is great news for our University.”
After eight months of bargaining, the contract is on it’s last stretch. SEIU will be having members vote to authorize the contract in the upcoming weeks.
“This has been a long and difficult process,” Chief Bargaining Delegate Kurt Willcox said, “OUS made it long and difficult, they attacked us full force and we fought back. It’s taken eight month but we’ve managed to get what our bargaining team feels is a very solid contract — certainly much better than we had in the last four years. It moves us in a direction that is positive for our members economically and I think it is very important to us that we’ve faced a possible strike, prepared for it and we were ready to go out and I think that it will be good for us in the future and I’m glad we ended up being able to settle and not go on strike.”
More information to come.