Oregon State University classified staff contemplates strike

Vada Shelby

Oregon State University’s classified employees are currently negotiating contracts with the university but are prepared to go on strike. According to a statement from the union, negotiations have been at a standstill and the union has since declared an impasse. 

Examples of classified employees at Oregon State are maintenance workers, technicians and dining center employees. The next negotiation session is scheduled for September 11, 12 and 13. According to the Collective Bargaining Between Oregon Universities and SIEU Fact Sheet, at the end of a 30-day cool-off period the union can strike after providing a ten-day notice. According to Jay Parasco, a political strategist for Service Employees International Union 503, the recent state contract offered a 10-15 percent raise in pay over the next few years that did not apply to the classified staff. 

“As bargaining was going, the classified staff was told the offer would be adjusted if the state got additional resources,” Parasco said. “They ended up with an extra 100 million dollars for higher education, but the administration used it to get themselves pay raises and ignore student tuition and the university workers.”

If a contract is not settled upon in the next negotiation session, the classified staff and university could either agree to continue negotiations or the union could put in their 10-day notice for a strike. If a strike were to occur, the possibility of a walkout happening during the first few days of the term are higher. 

“Oregon State University – and Oregon’s other public universities remain optimistic that through continued bargaining a new labor agreement will be reached,” said Steve Clark, vice president of University Relations and Marketing via email. “We look forward to the bargaining dates scheduled to be held this week. Meanwhile, it is prudent to prepare for the event that the union may decide to strike. We assure our students and their families that school will open on time at Oregon State in either case.”

A rally is being held by SEIU 503 at the Student Experience Center on September 12. According to the event’s facebook page, the rally is “for fairness, respect for frontline staff in support of classified staff bargaining. The Higher Education bargaining team will be at OSU bargaining with management on September 11, 12 and 13. Classified staff, campus and community allies, all are invited.”


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