Members Write Letters to UO President and OUS Chancellor

Our bargaining team has suggested that we write letters to our campus presidents, as well as the Chancellor, to express our opinions about bargaining.  We wanted to share a few of the letters that some of our Local 085 members have sent.  Maybe this will inspire you.

Hello,

I am a classified worker with the University of Oregon who, like many of my fellow classified staff, is baffled and appalled by the ridiculous and frankly insulting offers being put forward by OUS in contract negotiations.

Unless a strike is something that OUS is actually agitating for in these proceedings, it is time for them to get serious, cut the posturing, and make a legitimate offer.

I do not want personally want to strike. I want to continue to do my job, which I love, to the best of my abilities alongside my talented co-workers, whom I value and respect. But if this nonsense continues, wants will recede into the background, and need and sense of justice will take center stage. I and my colleagues do not want to strike, but if our hands are forced we will.

The agreements reached in bargaining with DAS, we feel, represent a reasonable conclusion. That is all we are asking for: a reasonable conclusion. So why not forgo the posturing, saving us all the time and hardship of a protracted fight over a pointless series of ludicrous proposals, and make a reasonable offer?

Thank you for your time.

John Taylor

 

Dear Chancellor Rose,

As a 27-year employee of the University of Oregon, I am so disappointed in the stance taken by OUS in bargaining with my union, SEIU! These are the worst proposals from state or OUS we’ve ever seen!

My income has dropped significantly over the last four years, between frozen steps, furlough days, and added insurance deductibles and premiums. At the same time I have seen administrators in my own university and in the chancellor’s office – all highly paid individuals to start with – get significant raises. Clearly there is money in the OUS system.

Classified staff are not the most well-paid OUS staff, and many of us are our families’ sole support. Thus it is very disheartening to see the mean-spirited proposal from OUS to raise our share of the insurance premium by at least double. My university, like much of the state, has started to put an emphasis on our health, as witness the HEM that PEBB came up with. Yet these increased deductions from my paycheck have already meant that for my family, much of the year it’s just like not having any health insurance at all. My chronically ill husband and I between us start off each year now $600 in the hole the minute we fill our monthly prescriptions or see a doctor. That $600 is not easy to find on one diminished paycheck, and would be even more difficult to pay if my salary was docked to the “10% of premium plus any increase” that OUS proposes its lowest-paid class of workers pay.

I’m sure you realize the price of healthy food has also risen over the past four years. Many of your co-workers in OUS are struggling. The meager financial offer OUS is making, with the ridiculous “bonus” which would vary among workers depending on our step month, is not enough after the last four years, during which classified staff were the only workers to make any appreciable financial sacrifice. And may I just point out that a workforce that has to depend on food stamps is using up money that the state could otherwise direct to education? I know that some of my co-workers at the UO are in that position.

Ironically, premiums for the insurance I have through PEBB are going down next year, so there really is no excuse for this proposal being on the table at this point in bargaining. I also note that the state workers had much better offers on the bargaining table to start with, yet were taking strike votes. I would definitely walk out over this proposal alone. It is inexcusable and unacceptable. In fact I don’t think you realize how angry many of us are at what’s been happening in bargaining. It doesn’t seem like you’d really like to have a strike on your hands while you are interim chancellor, but many of us are feeling pushed to that point. The time has also come to take the other odious proposals respecting layoffs, contracting out, COLAs, and step increases, off the bargaining table.

And regarding contracting out, I can’t help but think that the proposal OUS has made is meant to help promote nepotism, and/or the ability to not pay a living wage to or give benefits to workers. Why else would anyone not want to do a cost-effectiveness analysis before contracting out? Sometimes these studies show we are cheaper, thus saving you money!

Thank you for your help in this matter,

Harriett Smith

 

President Gottfredson and Chancellor Rose,

My coworkers and I were very interested to hear of the DAS settlement with SEIU yesterday. We shake our heads in disbelief that OUS refuses to offer such a modest, reasonable settlement to its own hard-working support staff. We don’t deserve the atrocious proposals coming from the OUS management team at all.

We would happily accept the contract that DAS employees got:

Health Insurance

  • Maintain the current 5% premium share. Provide a pathway to a 3% premium share in 2015.
  • Maintain the low-wage worker and part-time worker healthcare subsidies.

COLA

  • 1.5% wage increase for all on 12/1/13.
  • 2.0% wage increase for all on 12/1/14.

Step Increases

  •  Two full steps for those who are eligible. No more freezes or delays.

Furlough Days

  •  No more furlough days.

Contracting Out, Layoff Bumping Rights, & Daily Overtime

  • No loss of benefits or protections in these areas.

If it was budget shortfalls driving bargaining, I would expect to see sacrifices on the part of yourselves and other administrators and managers commensurate with those you’ve been inflicting on us for the past several years.

Lisa Sieracki

 

Hi Mr. President,

In case you do not recall the name Star Holmberg, I am the one who gave you the largest individual valentine this year (photos below).

That valentine included reference to some UO 5 yr stats:

Raw Numbers Up
Students up 20.7%
Admin positions up 28.1%
Classified positions up 13.4%

It is indeed a telling valentine.
But we still do not feel the love!

In fact, we are being treated worse than ever while we work harder than ever to keep up with all the growth and glorious public image.

I have worked at the UO for over 23 years and seen plenty of water flow under the bridge between our Administration and the Classified Employees that run this university. My work has included union work, my essential lifeline to justice.

Though you may claim you are powerless in this disappointing bargaining between SEIU 503 and the OUS, I do not buy it.

The time has come for you to really engage in the process, and yes even to weigh in with your voice of authority and leadership.

To stand by in virtual silence while the nuts and bolts employees of this university get trampled on by the Chancellor’s Office is more than just disappointing. It is disgusting…

We should get a MUCH better offer than we have seen thus far.
AND we ought to be treated with as much respect as other State employees.

Being treated like the ugly OUS step children when we work the front lines of the “Flagship University” really gets old.

If all you have is a form letter response, do not bother replying please.
If you find it within your conscience to get off the sidelines and take vocal action, then please do.

Really,
Star Holmberg

 

Dear President Gottfredson,

While I wouldn’t consider striking solely for what the OUS Bargaining Team calls “permissive issues” (e-mail dated 7/15/2013), there are plenty of other particularly noxious issues that I most definitely will strike over. I have never been so committed to go on a strike, but the repugnant proposals that are being offered by OUS leave me no choice.

Please do what you can to convince the OUS Bargaining Team that they have to offer classified staff a decent proposal. What is being offered now is offensive. We definitely will not stomach any more takeaways.

Sincerely,
Joyce Y. Eaton
Analyst Programmer II
intoCareers

SEIU Local 503 Sublocal 085: University of Oregon
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