CORVALLIS, Ore. – After many months of negotiating, the Oregon University System and the SEIU Local 503 Union came to an agreement regarding contracts, meaning the Union will not be striking on OUS campuses on Monday.
The Union says it has been talking with OUS about negotiating a contract since February. Around 2:30 am on Thursday, the two parties came to an agreement.
“There’s a great sense of relief right now among all of us,” said Timothy Borgen, a cook at one of OSU’s dining centers.
Gloria O’Brien, the SEIU Sublocal 083 President says she shares the same sentiment of relief.
“I have been hearing from people that they are very grateful that we don’t need to go on strike,” she said. “We did make some concessions though.”
O’Brien says along with paying premiums on insurance, the normal step process measuring how long an employee has worked is changing.
“Our normal step increases start at our anniversary date,” O’Brien said. “And now they’re going to be backed sixth months.”
The contract agreement settles various benefit conversations, including salaries.
“For the last four years, at least with my experience in the University system – we’ve had wage freezes, no increases; furlough days,” Borgen said. “So this is a positive step.”
The new contract guarantees classified staff – employees who aren’t members of the faculty – a 1.5% salary increase this December, and a 2% salary increase next December. And OUS says it thinks it’s a fair deal.
“And that it honors the work that they do on our campuses while still maintaining the campus sustainability,” said Melody Rose, the Interim Chancellor at OUS.
And so does the Union.
“Considering we’ve been pretty much stagnant and going backwards in the last five years, this is much better,” O’Brien said.
Union members say the threat of striking helped them get a quicker contract.
“I really appreciate all the people who stood up and were active and were fighting for a fair contract,” O’Brien said.
The next step is for union members to take a ratification vote.