There were no huge breakthroughs on economics or the other major unresolved issues during the recent bargaining sessions at the UO on June 6 & 7, but our SEIU Bargaining Team did secure helpful agreements in three areas.
1) Operational Requirements: There are over 25 places in our contract where employees have the right to do something – subject only to the university’s “operational requirements” or “operational needs”. This includes things like scheduling time off, attending trainings, and arranging a leave of absence. All too often, some supervisors treat these terms as though they were magic words and they use them to justify denying an employee’s request without any explanation. If you have no specifics about what “operational requirements” are involved, it’s difficult to challenge such denials.
Agreement: Now, if one of these requests is denied based on “operational requirements”, the employee will be able to make a written request for a written explanation and the supervisor will have to provide one in a timely manner. A grievance can be filed if no written explanation is provided, if it’s not provided in a timely manner, or if the explanation doesn’t cite legitimate “operational requirements”.
2) Hardship Leave: Currently, classified employees are able to donate vacation leave to help out other classified employees who are off work and out of paid leave. In order to receive hardship leave, the employee’s treating physician must certify that the injury or illness will continue for at least 30 days beyond the date at which the employee is projected to exhaust all accumulated leave. Anything less than 30 days and the employee can’t receive any donated leave.
Agreement: OUS agreed to reduce the amount of time a person must be without any accumulated leave, in order to qualify for Hardship Leave, to 15 days.
3) Trial Service: OUS proposed that any classified employee who transfers from one OUS university to a classified position at another OUS university be required to serve a new initial trial service – regardless of their length of service with OUS. This means, for example, that a 20-year UO employee who decided to transfer to SOU, because their spouse had taken a job in Medford, would be at risk of termination without recourse during their first six months on the new job. All it would take would be a conflict with the new supervisor and the 20-year employee could be unemployed.
Agreement: OUS agreed to withdraw this proposal entirely.