The union representing classified workers at Oregon State University and the state’s other public universities has postponed its strike date one week, according to bargaining team chair Marc Nisenfeld.
Service Employees International Local 503, which represents dormitory and food service workers, maintenance, library and laboratory tech employees, originally set Sept. 23 as a strike date.
But Nisenfeld said Monday that the union saw some movement and creativity over the weekend by the Oregon University System and that “we need some time to work on it.
“It’s better to stumble into peace than rush into war.”
The new strike date is Sept. 30, the day classes are set to open.
The two sides will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday in mediated talks in Eugene, and Nisenfeld said he is “willing to do whatever it takes, even if the talks go into Thursday or Friday. We’re ready to do that.”
OUS director of communications Di Saunders confirmed the Wednesday bargaining session but said she had not yet received written notification of the change in the possible strike date.
“We are committed to a settlement that recognizes the need for fair compensation and benefits within the limited means of all of our campuses,” interim OUS Chancellor Melody Rose said in a statement released by her office.
“Regardless of the outcome (of negotiations), OUS campuses are prepared,” the statement said. “Classes will begin on time, and campus services will proceed uninterrupted.”
The SEIU local covers about 4,300 employees, including 1,400 at Oregon State and 1,500 at the University of Oregon.
Key sticking points in the negotiations include wages and a request by OUS to change from nine years to 18 years the time that it takes for an employee to get to the top of the salary scale.
The SEIU is asking for cost-of-living increases in the next two years that total 5 percent. The OUS is offering 3.5 percent.