UPDATE: Some workers at SOU are preparing to strike

Classified employees say they are not getting fair wages.

Posted: Aug 21, 2019 6:09 PM
Updated: Aug 24, 2019 10:30 AM

ASHLAND, Ore. — Classified workers will not take the offer Oregon's 7 public universities offered on Friday.

Friday both the workers and universities had to sumbit their final offer. The classified workers are not happy with what the universities offered. The bargaining team representing about 5,000 workers says, "the contract does not value the work we do to keep our university system working."

Here's what the classified workers asked for in their final offer:

• 3.75% COLA July 1, 2019
• 3.5% COLA July 1, 2020
• Regular step increases each year of the contract
• Add a step at the top and eliminate lowest step the first year of the contract

Here's what the classified employees bargaining team says the universities offered: 

• 0% (Not a typo) COLA in 2019
• 1% COLA March 1, 2020
• 0.75% COLA November 1, 2020
• 0.75% COLA March 1, 2021
• Year 1 – Regular full steps
• Year 2 – Delayed step increases for 6 months after salary eligibility date
• No new steps for workers who have topped out

Now there is a 30 day cooling period. If the offer from the universities does not change the workers may go on strike. That's about 200 workers from Southern Oregon University. 

We will continue to post any updates on this article. 

Classified employees at Oregon's public universities say they deserve more money. 

Classified employees are the custodians, IT specialists, groundskeepers and plumbers.

"We are doing the work that needs to be done often behind the scenes to keep the campus running," said David Raco. He is the president of the Sub Local Union at SOU.

"What we want is to be respected and treated fairly." said Raco. He tells NewsWatch 12 his group is not getting the same proportion of pay increases as faculty and administration — and it's not just at SOU. He says this is happening at all 7 public universities in Oregon.

"They are telling us literally that we don't have the money to give you that you are asking for, because we've already taken care of everyone else and you are just last, so sorry. That makes us feel like we are not really a part of the team for their perspective and that's our largest problem," said Raco. 

His group is asking for a 3.75 percent increase this year and next year. To make up for the one percent increase the group got the past two years. That offer has been made and if they don't get it, the group might strike at SOU.

"That is the idea. We are currently collecting strike pledges from our members," said Raco. 

On Wednesday, NewsWatch 12 spoke to Oregon public universities's spokesperson. She says the universities are offering a fair contract of 12 percent wage increases over two years. Here's what it says in a press release: "This increase is made up of a two year total of 2.5 percent in COLA increase and a 9.5 percent in step increases." 

This Friday final offers need to be submitted. Then there is a 30-day waiting period before workers could decide to go on strike.

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