According to sources inside OSU, SEIU and the Oregon University System (OUS) have reached a tentative agreement resulting in the prevention of a strike. Although internal messages claim that both sides are pleased with the deal, it is reported that some workers feel as if SEIU threw them under the bus on wage increases. A requested 5% raise was traded in for only a 1.5% increase this year, and a 2% increase next year, which amounts to less than a cost of living increase when you take into account how low wages already are. If this goes from tentative to permanent, affected staff will have to wait another two years before getting a chance to fight for a better contract.
One important item on the list is the news that employees will be getting full step salary increases in June of 2014 and 2015, which is reported to be a win of sorts in the light of rumors that OSU was looking to halve these increases.
Another item of note, OUS agreed to pay 95 percent of all health insurance premiums, increasing to 97% when the condition is met that an extreme majority of SEIU members have an opportunity to choose between two health care plans. Sources say that administration were initially attempting to set employee responsibility somewhere above 5%.
While the firsthand opinions spilling out of OSU are mixed, so far the amalgamated opinion seems to feel that while the climate change will make it easier for employees to increase their wages more quickly, they’re still left in terrible pay conditions right now. After literally years of wage increase freezes and other shenanigans, it’s a tough sell to many of the 1100+ OSU SEIU members, even despite some steps forward. To note, these are not just the cooks, custodians and nurses, but much more, encompassing financial aid, the registrar’s office, administration and more.
Stay tuned for future updates as the fallout of this agreement becomes more solidified.
by Johnny Beaver