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OUS, SEIU come to agreement

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Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2003 12:00 am

On Aug. 21, 2003, after months of deliberation and threats of

strike, the classified employees bargaining team of the Oregon

University System and the administration of OUS reached an

agreement on the 2003-2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The entire bargaining process took nine months, starting in

December. On August 8th, OUS declared "impasse" on negotiations due

to lack of movement in the process. Both parties submitted their

final offer a week later on Aug. 15.

"Declaring impasse is not an uncommon practice" notes Joe

Sicotte in OUS's press release, "SEIU declared impasse in 1999 and


During the long bargaining process, both parties represent the

interests of large constituencies. OUS chancellor Richard Jarvis

notes that decisions made impact "students, families and the campus

communities -- representing almost 90,000 individuals across

Oregon" both financially and otherwise.

SEIU representatives look out for the working rights of

thousands of classified employees at all of the universities in the


The bargaining session is a chance for employers and employees

to make changes to the contract regulating wages, hours, working

conditions and other workplace guidelines.

OUS classified employees are represented by their elected

bargaining delegates as part of Service Employees International

Union Local 503 Oregon Public Employee Union.

All classified employees are represented by SEIU, but voting

requires membership. Classified employees are non-faculty.

Classified employees include office workers, plumbers, nurses

and food service employees, among others. OUS representatives are

part of the administrative staff, or employers, and are usually

part of the Human Resources Department.

OUS administration and employees agree how long the collective

bargaining agreements last. The last collective bargaining

agreement ran from July 1999 until the end of June 2003, with a

2-year "re-opener" in 2001, but was extended until Sept. 2003.

The current agreement will stand until June 30, 2005. Bargaining

will begin again Feb. 2005. The bargaining team, consisting of

bargaining representatives from each university's SEIU and

administration representatives, traveled to most of the seven OUS

schools during the process.

"The individual commitment and dedication of the bargainers and

campuses involvement since the beginning of the year is what

enabled us to reach agreement and be able to start the academic

year with a focus on our students," said Richard Jarvis, OUS

chancellor, in a press release issued by OUS.

The contract will be finalized after ratification by SEIU


Deborah Dombrowski is the president of OSU's Local 083, and was

the alternate table representative for the bargaining process. She

was involved in many of the bargaining sessions.

"It was a really tough fight, and at the end I think they

respected us. We got some great language," Dombrowski said.

SEIU representatives "fought like tigers" for Cost of Living

increases, but due in part to the current Oregon recession,

increases were not viable.

SEIU members will have to wait until 2005 to try for COL

increases. However, there were other "victories" for the SEIU


Selective salary increases give all employees in the lower

salary ranges, level nine or below, an increase of one salary

range. This increase is a positive step for SEIU's goal of a living

wage for all employees.

Full time workers also secured fully paid medical insurance

premiums for the duration of the contract and part-time workers

will pay no more than they are now.

SEIU Local 503 is now considered a "Recognized Campus

Organization," which means they have access to OSU e-mail

facilities and can participate in any campus organization


Dombrowski was emphatic about the value of the union for

employees, and the OUS. "We represent the fabric of the OUS. We

really do care."


William Burdette covers campus news for The Daily

Barometer. He can be reached at


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