The union representing 4,500 public university employees in Oregon has reached a deal with the schools two days before a strike could have started.
The two-year contract includes an overall 5.1% in cost of living adjustment for all represented classified employees and an annual salary bump for employees at the top of their pay scale who have remained at the university for five years.
The two parties reached an agreement Saturday, after three days of last-minute bargaining to prevent a strike on the first day of fall classes for four of Oregon’s universities. Classes are already in session at two others.
The bargaining team for Service Employees International Union Local 503 and representatives from Oregon’s seven public universities have been meeting at Oregon Institute of Technology’s Wilsonville campus since Thursday.
“This contract acknowledges the incredible value that university workers bring to our students and to our campuses,” bargaining team chair Rob Fullmer said in a statement announcing the deal. Fullmer is an IT specialist at Portland State.
The contract also includes 48 hours of leave for workers if campuses are closed for inclement weather. The universities committed to keeping all entry-level salaries above minimum wage for the Portland metro area.
Classified staff at the universities cover many jobs, including food service, building maintenance and registration. To keep schools running smoothly for students in the event of a strike, the universities had planned to bring in temporary workers and redeploy unclassified staff.
In a statement signed by all the university presidents, they thanked classified employees for their services to students and university operations.
“We are deeply appreciative of the dedication these employees demonstrate every day in their jobs,” the statement reads.
Pending an approval vote by members next month, the two-year contract will be implemented in November.