Tentative agreement reached, strike called off at Oregon public universities

ASHLAND, Ore.– It’s business as usual for several public Oregon universities as a Monday strike is called off. For the past several weeks, contract negotiations for classified staff at seven Oregon universities were going nowhere.

Early Saturday morning, a tentative agreement between union bargaining teams and the state was finally reached.

“Feels good. It feels good to be in the union right now,” said David Raco, president of the SEIU Local 503 Sublocal 84 and a member of Southern Oregon University’s IT department.

The resolution comes just days before some 5,000 classified workers from seven public universities were set to strike. At Southern Oregon University, union representatives were pleased with the results.

“Honest I was really surprised to get the notice this morning,” said Barbara Henson, vice-president of the SEIU Local 503 Sublocal 84 and a member of the humanities and culture department. “I was hoping that we would reach this point.”

The school echoed similar feelings.

“We’re very pleased,” said Joe Mosley, spokesperson for SOU. “We’re happy that we will be able to start the school year without the distraction of a labor dispute.”

According to the SEIU Local 503 – 4,500 workers will be affected by this new contract. About 200 of them are based at SOU.

With this successful contract, employees say it’ll provide some much-needed breathing room.

“My rent check that I wrote this month is up 10 percent from what it was earlier this year and I’m really relieved to know that I will be getting a little bump in my pay from my job to help offset that,” said Raco.

But more than anything it’s letting both groups get back to what’s most important – helping students on their journey to receive an education.

Union workers that will be affected include college support staff, secretaries, custodians, landscapers, food and safety workers, and IT employees. The union says one of the biggest highlights from the contract is the largest cost-of-living-adjustment made in more than a decade.

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