OSU faces a potential strike on campus as negotiations between classified employees represented by the SEIU and the OUS represented Oregon State administration have come to a standstill. With the beginning of fall term rapidly approaching, both sides are working hard to come to an agreement before classes begin. If a strike does occur, it would not only affect the OSU campus but would see classified staff from all of the seven major universities in Oregon involved as well.
The SEIU represents some 1,400 classified staff members at the OSU campus, but the college wants to make it clear that if a strike were to occur it would not affect the Oregon State faculty or the scheduled beginning of classes. “Even in the event of a strike action, all classes and operations at Oregon State will open on time and remain open throughout any labor interruption,” said Steve Clark, vice president of university relations. “Faculty at OSU would continue to teach classes and continue to serve the academic needs of students. Meanwhile, university administrative staff and managers may cover some duties typically served by classified staff members who may be engaged in a strike.”
The classified employees at OSU represent a range of different staff on campus. Gloria O’Brien, one of the major voices during the SEIU strike, had this to say: “I think a lot of time people think we are just the janitors and the cafeteria workers; I want to let people know that we do a lot more than that… we are the lab assistants, we do the IT work, we assist the people’s financial aid.” To the members of the SEIU, the possible strike isn’t just about economics but more about getting respect from the administration. “One of the things I want to make sure everyone understands is we’re not just striking over getting a higher wage… We feel like we deserve respect for the sacrifice we made already. The administration got raises while we got furloughs.”
Negotiations have been taking place over the course of the year. While a few of the terms have been agreed upon, there are still a few major issues that are holding up an amicable settlement, including wages and raises. If common terms cannot be met in the next rounds of mediation then a strike could be organized for Sept. 30th as classes begin.
By John Rosales