On Tuesday September 17th, classified employees at Oregon’s seven public universities voted to strike. This news came from a press release by the SEIU 503 union which represents these employees. The union’s set strike date is September 30th starting at 7am. University of Oregon classes resume the following day.
According to the union press release, over 95 percent of union members who voted, voted to authorize the strike.
Oregon’s universities have shown time and time again that they value donors and athletics over students and employees. Contract negotiations have been going on since February. The latest contract offer has cost of living allowances that are inadequate, lack of recognition for long-term university employees, and a proposal to triple the cost of meals for those who prepare them at the University of Oregon.
UO spokesperson Kay Jarvis said to the Daily Emerald that, “if a strike does occur, the university is committed to maintaining campus operations with as little disruption as possible”. They will prioritize essential campus operations such as housing, dining, security, and classes.
The SEIU 503 Union represents over 1,000 employees including maintenance staff, clerical staff, and construction workers. Statewide it represents over 4,000 people.
Bargaining broke down over cost of living increases after seven months of contract negotiations. The SEIU is meeting with management for a final time on September 23 at Portland State University. Hopefully, an agreement will be reached prior to the planned strike. If not, the classified employees will officially strike. With this strike, university employees are demanding the respect they deserve.