Dying remnants of Pernsteiner’s OUS empire settle with SEIU staff

Great news: The staff that keep UO from sinking into the abyss have negotiated a contract with OUS:

Dear Friends,

We did it! Because higher ed workers have been standing strong together at campuses around the state, our bargaining team has won a contract settlement that features some of the highest cost of living adjustments (COLAs) higher education classified workers have seen in decades. The settlement also protects steps, health insurance benefits, and premium-share splits while shutting out the “Big Three” take-aways management initially proposed. It also corrects long-standing inequities against part-time workers and includes selective salary increases for seven classifications (a much higher number than usual). 

Your bargaining team is very proud to be able to present this tentative agreement to the membership for ratification, and we look forward to answering all of your questions about the agreement and about bargaining during the ratification process.

Some of the highlights below; more details on the tentative agreement will be available during the ratification process

COLAs: 2.25 percent (12/1/2015), and 2.25 percent (12/1/2015)

Steps: Normal Steps

Health Insurance:

  • Protected existing premium splits
  • 95 percent (employer) – 5 percent (employee)
  • Possible 97 percent – 3 percent split if employee opts for lowest available plan
  • Part-time employees of .75 FTE or higher get “full coverage” (like unclassified PT)

No take-aways: Major take-aways beat back on contracting out, layoffs, overtime.                         

Selectives:

  • Campus Dispatcher (1 Range)
  • Co-Gen Engineer (1 Range)
  • Early Childhood Assistant (2 Ranges)
  • Early Childhood Associate Teachers (2 Ranges)
  • Elevator Mechanic (5 Ranges)
  • Mid-Level Nurse Practitioner (2 Ranges)
  • Paralegal 1 (3 Ranges)
  • Paralegal 2 (3 Ranges)
  • Paralegal 3 (3 Ranges)                      

Union rights:

  • Two new steward slots at WOU
  • Chief Steward mentoring rights increased

Term of agreement: Four years, with a reopener after two years on economics only.

Temporary workers: Temp workers now eligible for shift differential.

This settlement has not come easy: Management’s early economic proposals included major take-aways across the board on member rights, harsh health insurance proposals like an employer contribution cap, a one-year freeze on steps, and more.

It’s only because workers stood strong together throughout bargaining that we were able to beat back this slate of attacks and move higher ed workers forward. We benefited from the activism on the near-strike of two years ago, from members’ work to help elect a pro-worker legislature and governor who then funded higher education with record-high budget increases, and from thousands of members who raised their voices to protest management’s attempts to pay as little as possible and take away hard-fought union rights. 

Please watch for more details on the tentative agreement and on ratification information and voting meetings soon, and contact your organizer or bargaining table representative if you have questions in the meantime. We look forward to seeing you at a ratification vote on your campus soon!

In Solidarity, 

Your SEIU Local 503 Higher Ed Bargaining Team:

Marc Nisenfeld, PSU (Chair)

Trisha Guy, WOU

Johnny Earl, UO

Gloria O’Brien, OSU

Helen Moore, EOU

Colleen Martin-Low, SOU

David Shapiro, PSU

Bill Harris, PSU

Bob Klem, OIT (Alternate Chair)

Final offers from OUS and SEIU submitted to arbitration

8/21/2015: There is a helpful chart comparing the proposals on the SEIU webpage here. My understanding is that the arbitrator now picks between the proposals, and if the SEIU bargaining team is not satisfied they can then give 30 days notice of a strike, which would likely start during move-in week at UO.

8/14/2015: Still no contract for UO’s staff

Continue reading

Diane Dietz is back with report on faculty and staff bargaining

Where the hell has she been? Online in the RG here, and in print tomorrow. UO President Mike Schill and the United Academics faculty move forward together, into the broad, sunlit uplands:

The United Academics faculty union at the University of Oregon decided to keep its eyes on the prize of a better, donor-funded university — and so tentatively settled a new three-year contract in mid-August, well ahead of the start of school.

“It takes away a potentially contentious issue as our new university president embarks on the important work of raising some big bucks to support our academic mission,” said Michael Dreiling, union president and associate professor of sociology. …

“I am delighted that the faculty and administration were able to reach this agreement,” [UO President Schill] said in a prepared statement. “The collaborative and collegial process that led to this agreement is a model for other universities. It reflects the hunger of our faculty to move forward to a new era of cooperation as we seek to transform our great university’s academic and research profile.”

Meanwhile things are a lot tougher for the SEIU union that represents the hard-working and underpaid staff who keep UO from dissolving into the abyss:

The universities’ team declared an impasse on Aug. 12; the sides had until end-of-day Wednesday to submit their final offers to the Oregon Employment Relations Board.

After a 30-day “cooling off” period — Sept. 19 — the union can strike (provided it has given 10 day notice) and the universities can impose their final offer on the union.

Classes begin on Sept. 28.

The union last stuck in 1995, and the strike lasted for one week.

The sides will continue to meet to try to find a resolution. Sessions are scheduled for Sept. 8 and Sept. 9 at Portland State University and Sept. 17 and Sept. 18 at the University of Oregon.

“We’ll continue to negotiate, but I’m not hopeful,” Nisenfeld said.

The negotiations are more complicated than formerly when the chancellor was the chief decision maker, Nisenfeld said.

“Now they have to coordinate the effort between the seven presidents of the universities. I would say it’s like herding cats, but I have more respect for cats,” he said.

Also see former Emerald reporter Gordon Friedman’s story in the SJ on the just ratified deal for the rest of SEIU’s state employees, here:

Among the most notable aspects of the new contract is the PERS pickup, which is being eliminated. Instead of the state making the mandatory six-percent contribution to PERS accounts on behalf of workers, the contributions will be made as pre-tax deductions by the workers themselves beginning November 2016.

At that time employee pay will increase 6.95 percent.

The impact of ending the PERS pick-up on worker take-home pay is nil, officials said. The 6.95 percent pay increase which takes effect as the PERS pickup ends is meant to offset worker contributions to PERS and any additionally incurred payroll taxes.

The SEIU also sees this policy change as being advantageous for employees who are members of the Oregon Public Service Retirement Plan, since having a higher average salary benefits their pension. Additionally, all benefits based on wages could increase.

This compromise on the PERS pickup is a substantial development because it ends the pickup without employees incurring costs; past attempts to kill the six percent pick-up amounted to what would have been pay cuts — the root cause of the 1995 strike of state and higher education workers.

The SEIU contract also includes a 1.48-percent cost-of-living increase effective this December and a 2.75-percent increase in December 2016.

State mediator called in for SEIU bargaining impasse

Update: Noah McGraw has more in the Emerald, here.

More on their bargaining situation is posted here. My understanding is that UO would be happy to make a deal, but the bargaining is done with all the state universities, and the others aren’t sitting on the excessive cash reserves that UO VPFA Jamie Moffitt has been accumulating.

[A commenter says I’ve got it wrong – actually UO is hoping to split its staff off from the university system-wide bargaining, and then crush them.]

From an email sent to UO’s SEIU staff union members:

WILL WE HAVE A SETTLEMENT OR PREPARE TO GO ON STRIKE?

Dear Sisters and Brothers, and Community Allies

Join SEIU 085 Classified Employees at the University of Oregon at our annual Solidarity BBQ and hear the bargaining update from Chief Bargaining Delegate Johnny Earl on THURSDAY AUGUST 13TH at 11:30 AM – 1 PM at the Millrace overlook lawn across Onyx northwest corner of Franklin. 

Paycuts and Takeways. Even with 18% more money in the budget for UofO,  Management’s proposal attacks overtime, increases  our healthcare premium share from 5% to 10% and takes away the healthcare subsidy for those who can least afford it.

Theodora Ko Thompson, UO BA ’04, MS ’07 , President, Local 085 University of Oregon

SEIU Service Employees International Union

Udate: No strike.

9/26/2013 update: SEIU and OUS have reached a tentative agreement

(I believe a “step increase” is 4.5%).

After a long and often contentious bargaining period with OUS management, our SEIU 503 bargaining team reached a tentative agreement at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 26.
Details of the agreement will be released in the next several days; some key points are: 

Two full steps. We secured full steps—not half steps—for the life of the contract, so that workers reach their top step after nine years instead of the eighteen-year period management had proposed. The first step increase is guaranteed by 6/30/14 and the second by 6/30/15; however, if OUS receives additional legislative funding in its February 2014 session, the steps would go into effect one year sooner. We believe that goal is within reach. 

Cost of living raises: 1.5% on 12/1/13 and 2% on 12/1/14. 

An end to furloughs, no increase to the 5% healthcare premium share, and dozens of other improvements.

9/24/2013: UO faculty rights and obligations if SEIU staff strike on Monday

From an email sent out by the AAUO faculty union:


WHY HAVE SEIU CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEES VOTED TO AUTHORIZE A STRIKE?

For several years, a group of more than 1,500 workers at the UO–including office staff, librarians, computer techs, custodians, housing employees, engineers, nurses, maintenance workers and many others–have been forced to make tremendous economic sacrifices. The UO could not function without these employees–they feed our students, keep our IT system up and our libraries running; they pay our bills, run our offices, and ensure our workplaces are safe, clean and functional. Yet a large number barely make enough to pay their monthly bills.
They’ve had to accept pay freezes, unpaid furlough days, and shell out even more for their health insurance in order to help the seven campus Oregon University System (OUS) balance its budget. During the recent budget crisis, they were the only campus workers effectively forced to take pay cuts. They have fallen so far behind that more than one quarter of full-time classified workers at the UO meet the threshold for food stamp eligibility for a family of four.
Now, the OUS is demanding further concessions–drastic changes to the basic system of pay increases, limited cost of living increases, refusing to provide insurance equity for domestic partners, and rejecting proposals for controlling administrative waste.
In a secret ballot election earlier this month, classified workers at all seven OUS campuses voted overwhelmingly to strike. As they are covered by the same agreement, the strike would affect all of these campuses. (UO workers are thus included in this bargaining with OUS—they are not bargaining directly with the UO).
A strike represents a tremendous sacrifice for these workers–they will receive no pay while they are out and risk bullying and intimidation from supervisors–and was only considered as a last resort following eight months of negotiations and mediation.
CAN FACULTY REFUSE TO WORK DURING A STRIKE?
NO. “Sympathy strikes” are forbidden by state law.  According to Oregon state law, public employees who are not in the bargaining unit on strike and who refuse to cross the picket line are engaging in a “prohibited strike.” (ORS 243.732 & ORS 243.726). That is, it is against the law to refuse to work if your bargaining unit is not on strike. If faculty or GTFs went on strike, this same prohibition would apply to classified workers. This prohibition would apply regardless of whether faculty had elected to form a union or were covered by a contract.
WHAT CAN FACULTY MEMBERS DO TO DEMONSTRATE THEIR SUPPORT FOR STRIKING WORKERS?
**Faculty members are lawfully permitted to engage in a wide range of actions to demonstrate support of striking workers on campus.

For example, faculty can:

  • Join campus actions to publicize the concerns and issues of classified workers. A group of students, faculty and staff, for example, will be leafleting all day on Thursday September 26 when thousands of students (with their parents) move into residence halls. Please sign up here for an hour-long shift on that day.
  • Join the picket lines established by SEIU, within the parameters of applicable state law. SEIU will be organizing picket lines at locations across campus for as long as the strike lasts. Joining the picket line is not prohibited, only refusing to work during the strike. This is an important distinction. Faculty have every right to walk the line in support of their colleagues.
  • Wear buttons and shirts and display posters on office doors and windows in support of classified employees. Office signs and buttons are also available by emailing info@uauoregon.org
  • Contribute to the classified workers strike hardship fund to help striking workers who face immediate financial needs, or donate directly to workers on the picket line (e.g. ordering pizza or bringing water to the picket line).
  • For those holding class during the strike, use class time to discuss issues raised by the strike. As long as there is a connection between these issues and the subject matter of the course, such a discussion falls within the protections of the UO’s policy on academic freedom. With a little imagination, many classes can address the strike issues in a way that is consistent with an instructor’s discretion in choosing how to teach the course material.
CAN THE ADMINISTRATION FORCE FACULTY TO DO THE WORK OF STRIKING WORKERS?
YES. However, United Academics has informed the University Administration that the union reserves the right to grieve and take legal action if faculty are asked to perform work normally done by SEIU members. If you are asked to make photocopies, answer phones, email undergraduates about their program, or do other tasks AND that work is normally done by an SEIU worker in your department, please notify the United Academics office immediately: info@uauoregon.org or call 541-636-4714
ARE FACULTY WHO SUPERVISE GTFs REQUIRED TO FORCE THEM TO CROSS THE PICKET LINE?
NO. Instructors of record who supervise GTFs retain the authority to allocate the contracted hours for the GTF across the term. (For example, most instructors require GTFs to work more hours during weeks when mid-term or final exams are graded, and less during other weeks). Faculty authority to make such decisions about GTF assignments does not change.
ARE FACULTY MEMBERS REQUIRED TO SANCTION STUDENTS WHO REFUSE TO CROSS THE PICKET LINE?
NO. The president of the ASUO, Sam Dotters-Katz, has called for a student walkout on September 30 and has urged fellow students to avoid crossing the picket line as possible. Many students may not show up to class, or will request alternative assignments from faculty so that they do not have to cross the picket line. Faculty retain the same discretion as always to respond to students requesting accommodations for missing class. For example, when the UO football team participated in the national championship game during the first week of classes in the winter term in 2011, the Provost emailed all faculty requesting that they make accommodations for students who would miss class because they were attending the game. Faculty have the same discretion during this time.
DO FACULTY FORFEIT ANY OTHER RIGHTS DURING A STRIKE?
NO. Faculty maintain all existing rights and responsibilities. This includes the free speech and freedom of inquiry protections currently in effect, discretion to use and report sick leave, and the discretion to meet student contact hour requirements as deemed appropriate, including the use of online assignments and field-based assignments. Similarly, if noise associated with the strike proves too disruptive to teaching, faculty may exercise the same discretion they normally have to cancel or relocate class as they deem appropriate.
CHILDCARE CENTER CLOSURES: It is expected that both Vivian Olum and Moss Street child care centers will close or be severely understaffed during the strike, as staff at both centers are represented by SEIU. Faculty have the right to use leave time to care for their children if alternative arrangements cannot be made.

Update, Coltrane on faculty obligations if staff strike

9/19/2013 update: Provost Coltrane on the faculty’s obligations (legal, not ethical) if the UO staff strike:

Date: Sept. 19, 2013
To: Faculty  

From: Scott Coltrane, Interim Provost  

Subject: UO preparations for possible strike  

OUS has received notice of intent from SEIU to strike with a projected strike date of September 30, 2013. I write to remind you of your responsibilities as faculty in preparation for a possible work stoppage.  

UO is a public institution of higher education with the responsibility to provide the best education possible for our students. Oregon law is clear that only members of the designated bargaining unit are permitted to take part in the strike, and those not represented by SEIU are prohibited from participating. As faculty, your contribution to meeting our academic mission is critical, including holding regularly scheduled classes and conducting scheduled research and service activities.  

We respect the right of SEIU employees to conduct a legal strike and hope that the parties reach a fair and equitable agreement quickly. It is important to remember that bargaining involves not just UO, but all seven OUS public universities.  

Additional information is available at: http://hr.uoregon.edu/employee-labor-relations/classified-staff-negotiations-2013. As more information is available, updates will be communicated and posted on the HR webpage.

9/18/2013: Eder Campuzano has the story in the ODE. The UO staff has voted to authorize a strike on the first day of classes, their negotiations with OUS continue. 

ASUO Pres Sam Dotters-Katz calls for student walkout if SEIU strikes

9/12/2013: Troy Brynelson has the scoop in the ODE:

In solidarity for the protest, ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz, with the support of student presidents from Oregon State and Portland State universities, has also called for students across the state walkout.

“These folks work some of the lowest paying and often least appreciated jobs on campus,” Dotters-Katz said in a statement Thursday morning. “They deserve a contract that treats them with dignity, respect and most importantly fairness.”

The fact that the UO student government is calling for students to walk out in sympathy for the underpaid UO staff certainly puts a new spin on VPAA Altmann’s call for the faculty union to stop negotiating and:

“Shift Focus Back To Educating Our Students”

Contract negotiations between the University and the faculty union, United Academics, ended Friday without a union response to the salary proposal the University put on the table earlier in the week. That’s disappointing, … The leadership of United Academics has repeatedly said it wants to do what’s best for the UO and its students and faculty. Now is the time for the union to demonstrate that commitment.

Barbara Altmann, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of French. Questions? If you have any questions about the contract negotiations, please contact me at baltmann@uoregon.edu or (541) 346-2172.