To: Oregon State University community members
From: Edward Feser, Provost and Executive Vice President
and Mike Green, Vice President for Finance and Administration
Oregon State University community members,
We are writing to provide an update on contract bargaining occurring jointly between Oregon’s seven public universities and SEIU, the union that represents classified employees.
Unfortunately, members of the SEIU bargaining team did not appear at a bargaining session agreed to be held yesterday - in Portland. This absence occurred less than a week before SEIU members have indicated they will begin to strike on Monday, Sept. 30, at OSU and Oregon’s six other public universities. We are grateful that bargaining teams from SEIU and the universities have agreed to meet in an all-day bargaining session this Thursday.
OSU remains committed to reaching a settlement in these negotiations. We also continue to respect our classified employees’ labor rights and value the many contributions that classified colleagues make to serve our students and the university’s teaching, research and outreach mission.
The university asks that all parties proactively and collaboratively work to reach agreement. By working together, we will achieve a respectful and fair bargaining agreement, while also prudently managing the financial resources of the university and its many priority initiatives.
We also write to share a sense of context as to the significant impact of the bargaining proposals made by SEIU.
You may recall, the Legislature allocated $100 million in additional operating funds to the seven universities for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. These funds provided partial help for a variety of needs, including holding tuition increases down at several universities; addressing increases in the cost of state-mandated public employee benefits; and supporting compensation increases to all university employees, including faculty and classified employees. In fact, the $100 million was well below what the universities argued was necessary to address rising expenses, provide for salary and benefit costs, support student success programs, improve tuition affordability, and address deferred building maintenance. We calculate that SEIU’s contract proposal calls upon Oregon’s universities to dedicate approximately 50% of the increase provided by the last Legislature to classified employee compensation increases over the next two years.
Since we last provided you an update, the universities have enhanced their offer to SEIU. Here is an overview of that proposal:
We remain optimistic that we can reach agreement and avoid a strike, but we continue to prudently prepare for a possible strike. It remains essential for OSU to provide for continued safety, student learning, our research and outreach missions, and priority university services should a strike occur.
We will provide additional updates over the next week.
Provost and Executive Vice President
Vice President for Finance and Administration