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OSU Rally20-my

Union members and supporters rally at Oregon State University for higher wages earlier this month. Oregon’s seven public universities reached a tentative agreement early Saturday with the Service Employees International Union on a new contract for their classified workers, heading off a threatened strike that was set to begin Monday.

Oregon’s seven public universities reached a tentative agreement early Saturday with the Service Employees International Union on a new contract for their classified workers, heading off a threatened strike that was set to begin Monday morning.

Negotiators meeting at the Oregon Institute of Technology campus in Wilsonville worked through the night to hammer out terms of the two-year deal, which covers some 4,500 food service workers, janitors, library technicians, office specialists and other non-faculty staff at campuses around the state, including just over 1,500 at Oregon State University.

“We are very happy that a settlement has been reached and a strike has been averted,” said Steve Clark, OSU’s vice president for marketing and university relations.

“We look forward to working with our classified employees, and all our employees, in a very successful academic year here at Oregon State University.”

The deal still must be ratified by the union’s rank and file before it can go into effect. Bargaining team member Gloria O’Brien, who works as the integrated pest management coordinator for OSU’s research greenhouses, said a vote would be taken “as soon as possible.”

Terms of the deal include:

• A 3% cost-of-living adjustment in the first year of the contract, retroactive to July 1, and a 2.1% COLA in year two.

• 4.75% step wage increases in each year.

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• A 2.5 percent wage bump in each year of the deal for employees who have been at the top of the salary range for their position for at least a year and who have been at the university at least five years.

• Moving 15 job classifications to higher salary ranges.

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• 48 hours of paid time off over the course of the agreement to be used in the event of campus closures and delayed openings due to inclement weather or hazardous conditions.

The tentative agreement also holds all benefits at current levels and includes a commitment that entry-level positions at all campuses will be paid at least the minimum wage for Portland-area universities.

O’Brien said the bargaining teams stayed at the table for nearly 24 hours to work out details of the agreement, wrapping up early Saturday morning.

While the deal fell short of union demands in some areas, such as adding a new pay step for those at the top of the wage scale, she said the agreement is solid overall.

“I hope the workers are happy with it,” O’Brien said. “I really wanted to come up with something that will make the workers happy and avoid a strike, and I think we did that.”

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