SEIU staff union declares impasse, prepares to strike

From a generally reliable source. The UO staff are in the same bargaining unit as staff at all Oregon public universities, so they bargain a system-wide contract. In the past, UO has pressed for more generous contracts than the other universities wanted (if you call paying people for their work generosity.) This was one of the things that led the OUS Board to fire President Lariviere, after he subverted the Board’s furlough plan by telling the staff he’d make it up to them with secret overtime.

The current UO Administration seems to be taking the opposite approach. If you read to the bottom of this, UO is the only state university trying to increase the fee that it charges the staff who make our food from enjoying it too.

This is so petty that I am looking forward to hearing a well-paid UO PR flack explain it over lunch some time – charged to his expense account, of course:

Here’s the SEIU message:

After a frustrating, and frankly insulting, two days at the bargaining table, we determined that declaring impasse is currently our best path forward.

What does impasse mean?  Under Oregon law, once impasse is declared both parties have 7 days to submit their best and final offers for publication, followed by a 30-day cooling off period. After the cooling off period, the universities may implement their final offer and workers may go out on strike. The parties will continue to negotiate through the cooling off period and a potential strike until an agreement is reached.

Stick with your coworkers. Sign the strike pledge today. 

Click here to read the full update and access strike prep materials.

What’s preventing us from reaching an agreement? Despite record high funding and a strong economy, management is proposing meaningless wage increases (nothing in 2019 and no cost of living increase more than 1% in the rest of the contract). In addition, they want to delay steps in the second year of the contract. After arriving late to bargaining on Thursday, management told us we have to settle for whatever is left after taking care of everyone else on campus. 

What’s at stake? In addition to wages, management continues to put forward proposals that will make the universities a worse place to work and learn.

    • Inclement weather: We are holding out against management’s resistance to paying us when campuses are closed due to inclement weather.

    • Layoffs: Management is trying to reduce workers’ rights during a layoff.

    • Mutual Respect: Management has been very resistant to clarifying workplace bullying. We can’t get respect in our agreement on the article or at the table.

What can you do to help us get to a settlement?  

    • Let management know that you are willing to walk out for a fair contract by signing the strike pledge now.

    • Sign up to be a CAT or Strike Leader for your worksite. To do so, contact your organizer at

    • Organize a Unity Break at your worksite. We’re planning unity breaks for Thursday, August 29th. Want to help organize one? Need a tshirt or buttons? Contact Siobhan at email above.

    • Talk to your coworkers about why you’re ready to strike and urge them to sign the strike pledge

    • Distribute the Community Support Petition within your personal networks

Click here to read the full update and access the strike prep materials Q&A. 

Summary of Economic Proposals

Union’s Proposals

Management’s Proposals


3.75% COLA July 1, 2019

3.5% COLA July 1, 2020

0% (Not a typo) COLA in 2019

1% COLA March 1, 2020

0.75% COLA November 1, 2020

0.75% COLA March 1, 2021


Regular step increases each year of the contract

Add a step at the top and eliminate lowest step the first year of the contract

Year 1 – Regular full steps

Year 2 – Delayed step increases for 6 months after salary eligibility date.

No new steps for workers who have topped out


Current contract language

Current contract language


Current contract language, which protects us against potential cuts

Current contract language


Increase to 300 hours/40 hours cash pay-out

Decrease accrual cap to 180 hours.

Personal Leave

Increase to 32 hours per year

Current contract language

Contract Term

2 Years

4 Years with limited reopener on economics

Meal Discounts

Maintain $1 meal for dining services employees

Increase cost of shift meal to $3 for UO

As for those raises, they are cuts. Here’s the CPI data:

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22 Responses to SEIU staff union declares impasse, prepares to strike

  1. Deplorable Duck says:

    What does “record high funding” mean? Isn’t UO letting people go due to funding cuts?

    Also don’t understand the “workplace bullying” point. What bullying is being alleged and what changes are being requested to address the problem?

    • It's classified. says:

      “House Bill 5024 specifically allocates $836.9 million for public universities in Oregon, nearly $60 million above current service levels, and $641 million for community colleges, $50 million above current service levels.”

    • Fishwrapper says:

      This was written from the union perspective, so a little hyperbole needs to be filtered out – just as one needs do when reading the updates from the admin side. The truth is somewhere between the two. From reading many such missives, though, the context that is missing that may explain “record high funding” is that the state legislature, in its final throes of the session, managed to pass a fairly substantial package of funding for higher education.

      The union is not the only entity to think so. For example, the news media gave us headlines like Record Oregon higher ed funding passes House with ledes like

      A record $2.2 billion budget to support community colleges and public universities passed the Oregon House on Thursday. It includes a significant increase in Oregon’s need-based financial aid program, the Oregon Promise Grant, that will help 2,500 more students afford to go to college.

      The state’s flagship fared comparatively well this round, as this blog shared over a month ago. Considering that administrative bloat continues, and is even arguably aided with some of the state budget victories, the union is, quite understandably, asking across the table, “Why do you get a raise when we get offered a pay cut?”

      (Trick question – we all know the answer is shared sacrifices…)

      • The Issue says:

        So the ultimate question is how much of the $100 million is “liquid” in other words can be used for anything, including employee salaries and benefits, and how much is earmarked by the legislature. It may be record funding but how much is discretionary?

        Having been in the room when this stuff is discussed usually what you have is the little campuses not being able to afford much of anything due to falling enrollment and PERS costs while the larger can usually afford a bit more. The smaller campus’ reps get a bottom line from their CFO and the final offer usually exceeds it. PERS costs are eating those little campuses, cities and counties for breakfast. Say what you want about fancy buildings or extravagant administrations…have you been to Eastern? Most of the budget is wrapped up in people on every single campus and I suspect most of the small campuses are pretty lean employee wise across the board: faculty, staff and admin. Larger campuses, maybe a different story. Who knows?

        As Fishwrapper pointed out there is a lot of hyberbole on both sides and the truth is somewhere in between. Both sides will likely ramp up the PR machine with one side saying the cupboard is bare and the other side saying the cupboard is flush.

        The truth is somewhere in between and is cloaked in how much of that $100 million is discretionary and how much tuition revenue + enrollment the institutions expect to have.

        • It's classified. says:

          This “bucket” that we’re “allowed” to talk about is in the General Fund $$.

        • uomatters says:

          So far as I know there are almost no restrictions on how universities spend the PUSF money, which is the pot you are talking about there. Even if there were, there is enough discretionary money from tuition etc. sloshing around that each university can rebalance spending to reflect their priorities. The Administration’s priorities, that is – the university, i.e. the faculty and students, have no say.

          The state also gives the universities money for capital construction, and this is restricted to specific projects. There are also many line items in the state budget, for various special programs at particular universities, e.g. Ag Extension.

          If someone know more or has a good link to the state budget, please post it.

      • Deplorable Duck says:

        Thank you for the details. A problem with hyperbole is that it kind of sounds like BS, which will get many to tune out to other valid points that might be made.

        I really like the “Why do [admins] get a raise when [flunkies] are getting a paycut?” argument. SEIU should have you write for them. I’ve no particular opinion on the general negotiations, but that point would win sympathy from me.

        Perhaps even better, is it possible to pull together stats on raises for the “rich” employees versus raises for the “poor” ones? That could be very effective. If only there were some econ professor around with a pool of free grad student labor in his pocket…

        • Compulsory Pessimist says:

          Deplorable, it’s more accurate to ask “why do admins, faculty, and grad students ALL get raises every year or with every contract negotiation (6% or more, in most cases) while staff has gotten COLAs under 2% for the past DECADE?”

          • Dog says:

            Union raises for the faculty over the last few years are closer to 3% than 6% – in fact the data indicate that faculty salaries are now rising less than inflation on the west coast

        • My Cool Screen Name says:

          Yeah, put them grad students to work!

          The analysis I have seen so far indicate to me that, not only are the more well-paid getting more money each year, the percentage increases are greater at the top as well. Witness Schill’s 27% increase last year, and another 17% (Am I right about that?) this year. Compared to Classifed workers who are locked in at 4.5%/year (if not topped out), plus whatever COLA the Union manages to grasp at the bargaining table.

          • The Issue says:

            Not every campus is the same. This may very well be true around the O, but there are a number of other campuses with different realities. From 2011-2015 Administrators and OAs took furloughs on one campus and their faculty took them from 2011-13. There has been some “shared sacrifice” but it is limited.

            I continue to think the commitment to simple COLAs will continue to leave lower-paid workers behind. 2% and 3% COLAs do not move the needle when you are making 36k/year. Need to push for flat amounts that make a substantial difference for lower-paid workers, say $2,000/year. That makes a difference and puts money in the pocket. It might mean someone who makes 80k/year might have to settle for only $1,000/year but for those on the lower end it begins to move the needle and impact their ability to meet cost of living. Simple COLAs will continue to leave lower-paid workers at a disadvantage.

    • My Cool Screen Name says:

      Bullying is happening in many work sites on campus. UHC was one such place that has markedly improved over the last year. We are not talking illegal harassment, but jerk bosses who “manage” through intimidation and fear. The OICRC will do nothing because the harassment is not illegal. So workers are left with the toothless CBA Article 69 and University policy. Oh, and medical and psychiatric care. I am dead serious about that last point.

      To give the UO its due (HR specifically), they have stepped up and are taking Art. 69 complaints more seriously than they have in decades.

      • Deplorable Duck says:

        I didn’t know that. I’ve been on the wrong end of this elsewhere, and it’s really awful. This seems like a more important issue than all of the others mentioned.

        Unfortunately, I’ve never seen a workplace that addressed this with any success. If you’re being bullied and it’s seriously affecting your peace of mind, I’d move on. Drastic, I know, but life is short and your happiness and that of your loved ones matters more than any particular job.

  2. honest Uncle Gangsta says:

    Everybody wants more of a pretty much fixed pie. Most of us want someone else to take the hit.

    I will be really impressed if faculty here step up to volunteer for a pay freeze so classified, grad students, etc can get more (without saddling the students with an even more outsized tuition hike).

    • uomatters says:

      The Senate discussed a hiring freeze on new tenure track faculty. Pres Schill rejected it, but did cut back a little.

      • honest Uncle Gangsta says:

        A hiring freeze for TTF. A big sacrifice! No layoffs even, unlike the classified and OA types, and perhaps grad students as well.

        I’m not pitching for anyone to take a hit, I just think it’s reality that there just isn’t much money to throw around. The students have already taken an outsized tuition hike. (It’s usually a bad sign when a business responds to a bad turn by raising prices.) Dream on about the athlete tutoring. Ditto Mike and the gang taking pay cuts. Tenure track faculty aren’t going to be let go. There are all the new Tykeson advisors to pay for. Schill doesn’t want the TTF to shrink too much, so no total hiring freeze.
        Something else will have to give.

        Unless they somehow are bringing back the pool of foreign students. Is it international students? OK, fine. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

      • The Issue says:

        A hiring freeze usually becomes a hiring “frost.” Usually better off holding positions open for a few months if you can and sweeping the one time savings into a bucket.

    • My Cool Screen Name says:

      Yeah, right. Classified is not expecting faculty to take pay cuts so they don’t have to take as much of one. What would impress me is if the Administrative class would take the pay freeze.

      And, if faculty were do do what you are suggesting, where do you think Admin would put that money?

      Face it, the U is a microcosm of the greater economy. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. That is why: Union!

      • The Issue says:

        I would submit the poorer have gotten poorer under the union as well. Why? A commitment to push for COLAs every year just leaves people on the low end of the scale out in the cold. Need to be more creative but understand that giving larger amounts on the lower shrinks the pool of available funds and people on the high end may need to to take less. Even people in the union. If you want to lift up people on the low end it comes from the finite pool.

        Lest you think I am not willing to put my money where my mouth is (and I am not doing this to brag) when I got to my present campus they tried to give me a COLA within 3 months of being there. I asked my staff to tell me who the four lowest paid employees in my area were. I said , take my COLA, divide it up among them and call it a day. Another admin asked me “Can you do that?” My response was “watch me.”

  3. UO Employee says:

    If SEIU does strike, when will it happen at UO? The week of 9/23?

    • Fishwrapper says:

      I think that’s about right. By my calculations, with a 7 day impasse wait, then cooling down for 30 days, the earliest a strike could happen would be the 25th. Then again, counting on a calendar was never my greatest strength, so I may be off a bit. Regardless, it looks dangerously close the start of fall term – at OSU, the 25th is the start of fall term, because they adjust their calendar to allow Veteran’s Day as a campus holiday.

      • The Issue says:

        If the union was smart, and they usually are about strike timing, it would fall in the first week of class so it would hurt the most.

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