Oregon University System workers file strike notice


Some 4,200 classified workers at the Oregon University System’s (OUS) seven state universities could strike Sept. 30 — the first day of class for fall term. The non-faculty employees, which range from secretaries, custodians, and electricians, to cafeteria workers, Internet technicians and others, are represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503.

OUS is comprised of the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon State in Corvallis, Portland State, Eastern Oregon in LaGrande, Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Southern Oregon in Ashland, and Western Oregon in Monmouth.

After six months of bargaining, wages and salary steps are a key sticking points.

The union declared an impasse Aug. 19. Strike authorization was given Sept. 12 and the union’s bargaining team filed a 10-day notice to strike.

The sides bargained unsuccessfully throughout the weekend Sept. 14-15. They met again Sept. 18, after this issue of the Labor Press went to press.

Following the notice to strike, the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon and the American Association of University Professors, which represent OUS faculty, said they will support the classified workers.

Presidents of student associations at  the University of Oregon, Oregon State, and Portland State announced their support as well. Sam Dotters-Katz, president of Associated Students of the University of Oregon, issued a press release stating that on the first day of the strike, students at every OUS campus will engage in different actions, joining picket lines and holding educational events with students and faculty.

Since the recession began in 2009, support staff at OUS campuses have taken dozens of furlough days and their ranks have suffered many layoffs.

Marc Nisenfeld, a development engineer at Portland State University and chair of the SEIU Local 503 bargaining team, said classified employees have fallen so far behind that nearly one quarter of them meet the threshold for food stamp eligibility for a family of four.

He said that some administrators in the OUS “literally make more money in one month than some of our workers make all year.”

“The economy has turned around, and people are moving forward.  All we ask is that we don’t fall further behind,” he said.


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