SEIU staff union posts bargaining update

Thanks to an anonymous reader for the link, text reposted below:

Universities propose ½ step freezes while other public employees see wages go up

University administration offered a new proposal to our bargaining team on Tuesday, taking their draconian healthcare cuts off the table but failing to meet us on wages. SEIU members at all seven universities pushed back hard against the healthcare cuts, and it paid off. But, unfortunately, management’s new proposal still puts our members in fragile economic positions, and we can’t accept that.

After all the hard work getting the legislature to invest an additional $100 million in higher education, management is proposing meaningless raises (0.5% in each year of the contract) and a ½ step freeze for both years of the contract. No other public employees are being asked to take step freezes in Oregon. The economy is strong. State funding is strong. Management can afford to do better. We deserve better!

After years of cuts and reduced funding, in 2019, the Oregon Legislature increased funding to the Public University Support Fund by $100 million to a record $837 Million, 13.7% higher than the present 2017-2019 biennium. If we got the exact same contract that State employees got – 2.5% and 3% COLAs, plus steps – it would only cost $41 million.

If they need to make cuts, there is room to chop from the top. Presidents of Oregon’s largest public universities are all paid over $600,000 a year, more than six times as much as Oregon’s governor. Dozens of administrators make over $500,000, and almost 200 people make over $200,000 a year.

Meanwhile, the average university worker makes $36,136 a year, and 1,485 workers earn less than $2,177 per month, the income threshold for SNAP eligibility for a household of three. Under the current offer, it will take new employees 19 years to reach market wages for their jobs.

We remain far apart on wages. The fact that management made some movement shows that your work is paying off, but we know the universities can do better; they certainly did better for their administrators, most of whom received at least a 3% raise retroactive to January of this year.

Management did not propose a new contract extension. Our current extension expires July 31.  Click here and read this FAQ to find out what this means for you.

Summary of Economic Proposals


Union’s Proposals Management’s Proposals 
Wages 4.5% COLA July 1, 20194.5% COLA July 1, 2020 0.5% COLA in 20190% in 2020

0.5% COLA Jan 1 2021.

Steps Regular step increases each year of the contractAdd a step at the top and eliminate lowest step the first year of the contract Half StepsNo new steps for workers who have topped out
Healthcare 1% premium on lowest-cost plan5% premium on highest-cost plan Current Contract Language (3% and 5%)
Retirement Current contract language, which protects us against potential cuts Current contract language
Vacation Increase to 350 hours/80 hours cash pay-out Decrease accrual cap to 180 hours.
Personal Leave Increase to 32 hours per year Decrease to 16 hours per year
Meal Discount for Dining Services Maintain $1 meal for dining services employees Increase cost of shift meal to $3 for UO


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17 Responses to SEIU staff union posts bargaining update

  1. Deplorable Duck says:

    I’m too dull to have an opinion on most of that, but trying to raise the price of employee meals from $1 to $3 sounds just plain stupid.

  2. The Issue says:

    SEIU bargains for all campuses as if they are the same and in the same position economically. I realize this is probably a fundamental philosophy for them….all for one and one for all and likely fundamental to their position.

    I would submit that while higher education received 100 million it probably didn’t go equally to all campuses and all campuses likely have varying problems just trying to keep up with PERS costs which are insane in Oregon. Find out where it is going.

    WOU, EOU and SOU are likely, even with money from the legislature, in tough financial spots with enrollment challenges and rising costs. They are also pretty lean administratively. SEIU lumps them all in together with the larger campuses and bargains as if their financial situations are all the same. Too rich of a contract may have devastating effects on those campuses. I would look to their faculty contracts to see what they can really afford.

    This feels a lot like the $15 minimum wage debate. In some places it makes perfect sense, e.g. large more expensive cities. In some other places it will kill already struggling small businesses, e.g. some small towns.

    To be sure SEIU members likely deserve more but their membership is so varied in terms of campuses, jobs, etc. A healthy number of IT workers represented make more than their supervisors. Health care workers in the unit do very well. Workers on the low end are suffering from rising costs of just about everything and should be taken care of. A few years back the universities agreed to give low wage earners a significant increase but that would mean lower increases for higher wage earners. SEIU refused unless everyone got the same so those on the lower end of the pay scale were left out in the cold.

    I have been at the table before with SEIU and grew weary of the paid SEIU folks calling me a “fat cat” when they made over 100k a year, more than I did at the time. Those paid SEIU folks would spend most of the bargaining time calling out high wage earners while making a high wage themselves.

    This is much more complex than just screaming about how much your president makes. There are hundreds of jobs that make more than the governor. The head of SEIU makes more than the governor.

    • Outraged says:

      Local economic status is indeed a factor, but unions need to reject the “divide and conquer” tactic.

      I believe a priority is raising the bottom salaries along with addressing compression. As min-wage rises faster than steps/COLAs, some workers with 5 years of UO service will soon be making minimum wage.

    • Fishwrapper says:

      The Issue typed,

      There are hundreds of jobs that make more than the governor. The head of SEIU makes more than the governor.

      Apples and oranges, really. The governor of the state, while not a typical employee as they are elected rather than administratively hired, is nevertheless a state employee, and the chief executive officer of the state enterprise.

      The head of the SEIU is at the top of a non-public organization that was created by and is paid for by its members. Yes, while in the past there were “fair share” contributions from all employees, thus, arguably, a payment of public monies, since Janus that is no longer the case; it truly is paid for by its members who choose to do so.

      The comparison of salaries in the public sector has to be put in its proper context. The governor, while at the top of the entire enterprise, is not the CEO-figure as we see in other sectors, inside and out of government. Should a university president have a higher salary than the governor? One could make the argument that they are more CEO-like in their roles. They are hired through a vetting process(yes, I know, but it is, still, a process), are (generally) in the job for a longer run and not subject (as much) to the whims of the prevailing political breeze.

      Senior administrators, like university presidents, should be compared in their correct context. For example, compare Shill’s salary to Ray’s, rather than the current occupant of an elected office.

      Meanwhile, I am fairly certain that the chief executive officer of, say, Nike or Intel makes more that the governor, too, as well as more than the head of the SEIU – why didn’t you point that out, too?

      Pro tip: Because it’s only as meaningful a comparison as between the governor and the head of the SEIU, that’s why.

    • FGI says:

      @ The Issue

      There’s more than a bit of sleight of hand in your response. The classified union is bargaining for the economic security of primarily low-waged workers at UO, not for SEIU staff or administration. SEIU staff members have their own union and their own bargaining process which is an entirely separate issue from the bargaining between USSE and UO workers represented by SEIU

      Since you’ve been on the other side of the table in negotiations with the union, it seems unlikely that this is a mistake that could have been made casually. The union side of the table, as you’re aware, is not high-paid staff sent from SEIU International – it’s rank-and-file university workers who are volunteering their time to sit at the table across from paid representatives of management such as yourself

      Also, if you’re being paid less than the typical local SEIU field organizer to represent university management in bargaining, it’s highly likely that you’re being underpaid for your services, a condition that could ironically be remedied if you belonged to a union

      • The Issue says:

        SEIU send paid SEIU employees to the bargaining table. They generally make more than the university reps from various HR departments sent to represent the universities.

        • FGI says:

          A bit of Googling shows that there is only one SEIU staff member at the bargaining table, who draws a salary of $64K/yr. The rest of the team are volunteers from the various universities

          On management’s side, however, the UO rep alone makes $97K/yr, and is one of nine salaried representatives of USSE

          The numbers simply do not support your narrative of six-figure union bosses sitting across the table from impoverished management reps

        • Fishwrapper says:

          Again with the sleight of hand! Of course SEIU sent paid SEIU employees to the bargaining table.

          I may be mistaken here, but my understanding of the process is that a wide swath of employees are represented as a bargaining unit by SEIU. The way that works is that the dues-paying members use their collective means – as represented by the money collected by paying those dues – hire folks to literally sit at the table and read the fine print. Most nurses, IT folks, motor pool mechanics, administrative assistants, etc. are not, in fact, HR professional, contract lawyers, or benefits specialists; collectively, USSE has those on their side.

          By collectively bargaining, each individual is – theoretically – represented by HR pros, contract lawyers, and benefits analysts, at a cost to each individual far less than if classified employees were to sit down with management at the end of each contract and try to negotiate their own terms. And, since Janus, those who don’t feel like paying for this service reap those benefits anyway – nice deal!

          Rank and file members also appear at the table, as they are elected by the members to represent them. The collective bargaining agreement provides release time for employees to keep their hand in the negotiations, to steer them, to provide feedback to those at the table from the negotiators’ actual constituents, who represent even greater numbers from the respective campuses.

          Is it unwieldy, and does it not provide the best outcomes for ALL participant in the process? And by “ALL” I mean both sides of the table? Yes, it can be. But what is the alternative to collectively bargaining as a whole, rather than each individual fighting for their own, singular interest?

          That’s an actual question. You seem to be suggesting that the collective bargaining process is perhaps invalid because professionals, some who are paid a great deal, come to the table to represent lower-level employees in a wide range of pay grades in negotiations with administrators, some of who make more than the governor!

          Come on – you’ve been at the table, so get to your point: with what do you propose to replace this system?

          • The Issue says:

            Like most things on the internet, I think we misunderstand each other. Hard to read tone and hard to have a fruitful or meaningful discussion. I think we both have positions and it is ok to disagree.

            First, I do not believe it is bad for SEIU members to make good wages or even make more than others. My point was that our team got called a “fat cats” multiple times at the bargaining table by folks who made more than I did. RIch Peppers and Paul McKenna specifically. Rich made more than 100k when he left SEIU and Paul made 98k I believe. The bargaining process is not invalid or slanted or wrong because the union sends professionals. I am only making a point about union officials calling others “fat cats” when they themselves make more than the “fat cats” they are talking about. I am not making a larger point about bargaining or employing “sleight of hand.”

            Second, collective bargaining is a fine instrument depending on execution and can be a great window into what is really important to members of a union. I would suspect that raising the standard for the lowest paid workers is important to everyone. The universities agreed to do that years ago and the union said no. There is only so much money in any given bargaining period. In the period at that time the universities could raise up all of the lowest paid workers to a higher level but it would have meant less for those making more during that contract period. The union said no. That is a fact. They turned it down.

            • uomatters says:

              My understanding is that, like most public employee unions, SEIU bargains for a mix of “Cost of Living Adjustment” or COLA for all its workers, and for “step increases” which continuing employees get each year. (The COLA would be better called an Across the Board raise, since this year the Western US Consumer Price Increase was ~3%, and the COLA will certainly be far less).

              The number of steps is currently ~10, and after an employee has worked long enough at UO to get all the step increases they only get the COLA raises.

              When SEIU bargains for additional steps rather than a higher COLA they are indeed, as “The Issue” seems to be arguing, bargaining for more money for their highest paid employees (although most of those highest paid workers are not paid very much at all). However, since staff turnover is low, you could also call this bargaining for a wage profile that gives more reward to seniority, since most current employees will eventually get to the higher steps.

              One issue that I haven’t seen addressed is the effect of the new Eugene Public Safety payroll tax. The RG article is here:

              Workers who earn more than $15 an hour would pay a rate of 0.44% on their yearly gross wages. A full-time worker making $25 an hour, as an example, would pay $19 a month for the tax.

              The changes mean higher-wage earners will pay more than initially proposed to make up for the lost revenue from the minimum-wage exemption.

              Employers would pay a rate of 0.21% on their gross annual payroll. Employers with two or fewer employers will get a 25% discount on their first $100,000 of gross payroll.

              City councilors defeated a proposal to refer the proposed tax to the November ballot.

              I believe this tax applies to UO employees, and will both cut take home pay and raise UO’s costs. Does anyone know if UO lobbied against it? The cynic in me suspects no, because beefing up the police is part of the cost of preparing for Phil Knight’s 2021 IAAF championships, and this tax pushes most of that cost onto workers.

              • The Issue says:

                They do bargain for COLAs and Steps. In one contract period SEIU asked for the lowest-paid workers to be raised up to a specific annual salary. The university said they could do that but it would lower increases in that contract period for other employees outside of that group. The union turned them down.

                • FGI says:

                  So, to summarize:

                  1) You’re still upset that someone no longer with the union called you a name several years ago

                  2) You’re attempting to sow discord by pointing out that – again, several years ago – the union didn’t accept a divisive offer that would benefit some workers by harming others

                  Got it

                • The Issue says:

                  to FGI: (sorry there is no reply button on your comment)
                  1) I never said I was upset at all. I was not upset then nor am I upset now. Again, it is hard to read tone on the internet so we tend to assume the negative tone. I am simply trying to illustrate that there is propaganda employed by both sides in the process. It serves the union to portray everyone on the administrative side as “fat cats” even when that may not be true. Still not sure what qualifies as a “fat cat.” It serves the administrative side to portray the cupboard is always bare even when it may not be. The truth in both cases is somewhere in between.

                  2-I am not attempting to sow discord nor do I believe I wield enough power to do so. I am pointing out that an offer was made to raise lower-paid workers up, which would have cost enough money such as to require higher-paid workers accepting a little less. I don’t see that as any more divisive than the fact that if union workers get a 4% COLA people are going to get different amounts:

                  If you make $70,000 annually a 4% COLA is worth $2,800.
                  If you make $30,000 annually a 4% COLA is worth $1,200.

                  If you only had $4,000 to give those two workers and you decided the $ amount they got should be equal at $2,000 of the available pool of $4,000, the $30,000 worker should get a 6.6% raise and the $70,000 worker should get 2.85%.

                  It is not meant to be divisive. The union and management can disagree on how much money there is, but regardless of the amount, there is a finite amount. If you decide to give more to the lower-paid workers, the amount available for the higher-paid is less.

                  I would argue that giving a simple across the board COLA every contract and steps that average 4.75% continues to leave lower-paid workers behind. A proposal was made some years ago to make a leap forward for those on the bottom end of the pay scale. There was no intention to be divisive. There is a real, substantial and severe problem for workers across this country in low wage jobs. Simply giving them a COLA is not enough. You have to make leaps forward by doing something substantial. Something substantial costs money that comes from the total available pool. Someone always gets less so someone else can get more. It happens now with every contract that adds a simple COLA, it may feel equitable because everyone gets the same % but that commitment to simple COLAs without a substantive, real commitment to lower-paid workers has left them behind.

        • Darby says:

          ‘The Issue’ writes:

          “SEIU send paid SEIU employees to the bargaining table. They generally make more than the university reps from various HR departments sent to represent the universities.”

          SEIU bargaining delegates are SEIU members, ranging in professions from all ares of the Universities. University bargaining delegates are professions in the area of HR and, presumably, labor relations.

          SEIU bargaining delegates do not make more that $100,000. On the other hand, I suspect most, if not all, of the Universities bargaining delegate make more, and substantially more, than $100,000.

          SEIU has two attorneys on staff. For 72,000 members and a slew of contracts. How many attorneys does UO have on staff? How many external attorneys do they hire?

          Perhaps “The Issue”, is still harboring resentment that anyone in SEIU membership on the bargaining team had a higher salary than they did on the university side. If that is even true. Considering the number of factoids in their comment, perhaps this is another factoid.

          And, exactly, what is wrong with highly skilled, broadly skilled, hard working classified staff making a reasonable wage, a high wage? Though, frankly, compared to private industry, many of us do not earn a reasonable wage. Even many of the highest paid IT workers and nurses (which ‘The Issue’ names specifically) do not make what they would be making in private industry. I know a lot of nurses – anyone who does knows exactly hard hard their job is and the skills they need to have to do it.

          Higher skilled IT work appears to be moving toward OA positions, whie IT SEIU positions are being compressed to lower IT classifications.

          And furthermore:

          Open positions at UO as of this evening:

          18 Classified Staff
          95 Officer of Administration

          Twelve, I believe, is the number of classified layoffs in the past year.

          Officers of Administration make a whole lot more than Classified workers (ignoring the few outliers).

          The veracity of the UO claims of poverty is suspect.

          Hey, at least we’re still paying a huge amount of money to a coach who doesn’t work UO any more. Nice gig.

      • The Issue says:

        Also SEIU represents a number of very well paid employees on campuses, Physician’s Assistants, Registered Nurses and a wide group of IT employees. They also represent a large number of low wage workers who frankly deserve more than they get.

  3. Darby says:

    Just looked at the website at classified wages. Exactly TWO make over $100,000: A pharmacist and an analyst programmer lead worker.

    ‘The Issue’ implication that there are many classified people making over $100K debunked.

    It’s harder to find the same info on the administrative PDF, as “overloads” are listed separately. And, of course, $ for cars, and the monetary value of other perks (housing, utilities, phone, internet, etc etc) are not included. (Note that CAS does not provide internet service $ to homes of classified staff who, by nature of their IT work, necessitate a good home internet service)

    All of this would be so easy if the university provided CVS file of this data rather than the ridiculous PDF’s they make available.

    Perhaps they could let one of their skilled IT classified staff have at it.

    A rant about the use/abuse of temporary employees, both UO employees and temp agency employees, will have to wait for another day.

  4. Darby says:

    Hm. Further examination of PDF and I find:
    Classified over $100K:
    5 IT
    2 Pharmacists
    1 Nurse Practitioner
    1 Driver
    1 Workshop Instructor

    Classified ~ $26,000 Annualized (these are 9 month, 100% term)
    37 Food Service Workers and Cashiers

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