EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon University System and the Classified Workers Union return to the bargaining table on Wednesday morning, just days before a strike is scheduled to take effect.
Wednesday’s contract talks will affect about 4,000 employees throughout the university system, including 1,100 at the University of Oregon. These workers are part of the Classified Workers Union, which includes all non-teaching staff, such as receptionists, custodians, and librarians, just to name a few.
There are two main issues on the table. The first is wages; currently, it takes classified student service workers nine years to reach their maximum earning potential. OUS has proposed extending it to 18 years, which has angered many workers.
“I make $1,700 a month, take-home pay,” says Ronald Tucker, a custodian for UO. “This would definitely financially cripple me and make it very difficult to make my bills and stay above board and not keep going under.”
The second issue the union is fighting for is more funding for student services. If an agreement isn’t reached, service employees will go on strike on Sept. 30, the first day of school.
In a statement, interim chancellor Melody Rose says OUS remains hopeful that a settlement can be reached prior to the strike. Regardless of the outcome, OUS says classes will start on time on the 30th and campus services will proceed uninterrupted.
If labor talks fall through on Wednesday, both parties will have one final chance to meet on Sunday.