Universities and SEIU reach tentative agreement

UO seal in stained glass

A tentative contract agreement has been reached between Oregon’s public universities, including the University of Oregon, and the Service Employees International Union.

SEIU has rescinded its strike notice and members will vote to ratify the contract settlement during October, with implementation occurring in November.

“I am incredibly grateful to the members of the bargaining teams for their many hours of work to reach agreement,” said Mark Schmelz, UO chief human resources officer. "SEIU employees are an essential part of the university community, providing services that impact every aspect of our student’s educational experience and our research mission. I know that this extended bargaining process created uncertainty for everyone on campus. We look forward to moving forward in partnership and continuing the important work of advancing the university’s mission."

University Shared Services Enterprise, which negotiated with SEIU on behalf of the state’s seven public universities, provided the following information about reaching resolution:

Early on Saturday morning, bargaining teams from Oregon’s seven public universities and the SEIU-represented classified employees reached a tentative agreement on a two-year labor contract. The settlement averted a strike action by the SEIU that would have started on Monday, Sept. 30, the first day of classes for many of the universities.

The new contract covers about 4,500 classified staff members who are part of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Classified staff play important operational roles across most university academic and administrative departments, in positions with annual wages ranging from about $25,000 to more than $100,000.

Oregon’s Public University presidents released a statement saying, “As we welcome students back in the new academic year, we are pleased that we have a tentative agreement in place with our SEIU-represented classified workers, who play an important role in the education of more than 120,000 Oregon public university students. Our university classified employees are respected colleagues who are vital to the operation of our universities and the diverse student services each campus provides."

“We are deeply appreciative of the dedication these employees demonstrate every day in their jobs on our university campuses. Their work makes an enormous difference in the education and lives of our students, as well as the research and community services that Oregon universities provide throughout the state.”

The settlement statement was signed by President Tom Insko, Eastern Oregon University; President Nagi Naganathan, Oregon Institute of Technology; President Edward J. Ray, Oregon State University; Interim President Steven Percy, Portland State University; President Linda Schott, Southern Oregon University; President Michael Schill, University of Oregon; and President Rex Fuller, Western Oregon University.

In summary, the contract settlement included:

• 3.0% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all classified employees effective July 1, 2019; and 2.10% COLA for all classified employees effective July 1, 2020 (total of 5.10% in raises over two years);

• Full step wage increases of 4.75% in each year of the next contract, representing a total of 9.5% over two years. This offer applies to more than 70 percent of classified employees not already at the top step of their classification;

• A longevity premium of 2.5% given yearly to classified employees who have been at the University at least five years and have been at the top of their salary range for at least a year from their salary eligibility date;

• A commitment to keep entry level-wages at all universities above Portland-metro area universities’ minimum wage by eliminating steps of the salary schedule that are below that rate;

• Moved 15 job classifications to higher salary ranges;

• Provided employees with 48 hours of paid time over the course of the 2-year agreement to be used in the event of campus closures and delayed openings due to inclement weather or hazardous conditions.

• Agreement to keep meal costs at current rates for dining service employees at the University of Oregon.

• All other benefits (healthcare, pension, holidays, vacations, sick leave, personal leave, bereavement, and others) remain as is in the current contract (2017-19) for the next contract..

SEIU members will vote to ratify the contract settlement during October, with implementation occurring in November.