MONMOUTH, Ore. – Bargaining teams representing Oregon’s seven public universities and classified union employees have reached an agreement on a five-year labor contract, the longest ever between the two parties.
The new contract covers approximately 4,600 classified staff members who are part of the Service Employees International Union 503 (SEIU) working at public universities statewide.
Classified staff hold a wide range of positions throughout the universities’ academic, operational and administrative departments; and earn annual wages of approximately $30,000 to more than $100,000.
The agreement requires approval by a vote of union members followed by approval by Oregon’s university presidents, who have issued a statement supporting the agreement.
SEIU members will vote on the new contract this month, with implementation taking place in January 2022, if ratified.
“We are very pleased to have a tentative agreement with SEIU-represented classified employees who contribute importantly to the education of nearly 97,000 Oregon public university students,” the presidents’ statement said. “These employees are respected colleagues who are vital to the operation and success of the state’s universities. As well, many classified employees displayed tremendous courage and fortitude during the pandemic to ensure universities’ continued operations to serve students in their educational pursuits.
“We are deeply appreciative of the contributions that these employees provide each day in supporting the education and lives of students, as well as their work in helping to advance the research and community service programs that Oregon universities provide throughout the state.”
The statement was signed by President Tom Insko, Eastern Oregon University; President Nagi Naganathan, Oregon Institute of Technology; Interim President Rebecca Johnson, Oregon State University; President Stephen Percy, Portland State University; President Linda Schott, Southern Oregon University; President Michael Schill, University of Oregon; and Interim President Jay Kenton, Western Oregon University.
In summary, the contract settlement includes:
- A one-time bonus of up to $1,500 for eligible classified employees who were required to work onsite in uncertain times during the pandemic and who contributed to health and safety initiatives for university community members.
- A 3.1% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all classified employees effective Jan. 1, 2022, and a 2.5% COLA for all classified employees effective July 1, 2022.
- Full step wage increases of 4.75% in each of the next four years, representing a total step wage increase of 19%. The step wage increase applies to more than 70% of represented classified employees who are not already at the top step of their salary classification.
- Continuation of a longevity premium of 2.5% for classified employees who have been employed by a university for at least five years and who have been at the top of their salary range for at least one year from their salary eligibility date.
- A commitment to keep entry level wages paid to classified employees at all universities above $15 per hour, by eliminating steps of the salary schedule that are below that amount.
- Adjustment of 31 employee position classifications to higher salary ranges. These changes involve 16 administrative job family classifications, covering approximately 25% of the bargaining unit.
- Forty-eight hours of paid time that may be used in the event of closures or delays in campus openings due to inclement weather or hazardous conditions. This provision of 48 hours of paid time will be renewed every two years through the life of the agreement.
- Modified contract language to allow classified employees able to work remotely to engage in remote work with their supervisor’ approval, acknowledging rapid changes in the national employment landscape.
- Addition of Juneteenth as an officially recognized and paid holiday for classified employees.
- Provision that all benefits, including healthcare, pension, holidays, vacations, sick leave, personal leave and bereavement, that are part of the current contract with classified employees for 2019-21, will remain in effect for the next contract (2021-26). Some of these benefits are subject to potential changes that may be negotiated during the parties’ economic contract reopener in 2023-24.