Thursday, December 05, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
October 01, 2013
MONMOUTH -- After months of intense bargaining, classified staff at Western Oregon University have a tentative agreement with the Oregon University System.
OUS administrators and Service Employees International Union Local 503, the union representing classified staff in OUS, reached the agreement Thursday at 2:30 a.m. -- four days before the scheduled start of a systemwide strike.
Seemingly taking a play out of the typical college student's playbook -- waiting until the last minute -- was viewed by some SEIU staffers as a tactic by OUS to test the union's resolve.
The approach appears to have worked in the favor of staffers, with many of the sticking points that hindered an earlier deal falling on their side.
"That's what we were going for. We wanted COLAs (cost of living adjustment) and two steps ... steps for both years," Angie Barry, Western SEIU 503 chapter 082 bargaining representative, said. "I've already had a couple of classified staff stop by and go, `Oh, it's so nice to be at work.'"
Next to cost-of-living adjustments, securing two full steps for the duration of the two-year contract instead of the OUS proposed half step per year, was the biggest win for staffers.
Though the agreement is yet to be ratified by SEIU 503 members, the overwhelming sentiment across OUS is that it is the best attainable contract given the current financial situation.
The agreement puts an end to the contentious, months-long bargaining season between OUS and classified staff.
"OUS classified staff are key to every student's success and experience throughout their time on our campuses," Melody Rose, OUS interim chancellor said. "This is a fair, realistic settlement that recognizes their important role and contributions."