Monthly Local Meeting – September 11th, 2013

There was a large turnout of more than 100 energized people at the UO Local 085 meeting on Wednesday. The Labor Choir kicked things off with a catchy sing-along, “The Staff Goes Marching”. Johnny Earl gave a rousing and impassioned speech about bargaining and striking, saying he didn’t want to strike but was doing it for the people coming after him, who should have the same deal he had, not a worse deal.

The quilt raffle was won by Joyce Thomas, a community supporter. The Strike Hardship Committee raised over $900 for the Local 085 hardship fund, bringing the total to over $11,900. Local president Gary Malone reminded us that’s one of several strike funds available to help members who do some kind of strike duty if we go out.

Polls are open for voting today at 150 Columbia across from the EMU, from 4 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. Turnout has been strong at the smaller schools, where people are just as incensed at the OUS offer as at the larger schools.

Kurt Willcox went quickly through a presentation about where bargaining stands now, showing the union’s proposals, DAS’s settlement, and OUS’s offer. Most of what is on the table has to do with money in one way or another, including an early retirement incentive the union would like OUS to offer which is calculated to actually save them money. OUS says they can only pay what the least financially stable university can afford.

In bargaining on the 13th and 14th, they will discuss the temporary workers who have just joined the bargaining unit. Those folks are unlikely to have the same benefits as regular staff, but they will gain many of the protections we all enjoy.

The 30-day “cooling off” period of mediation ends September 23rd. Assuming the strike vote passes, we will give the 10-day required strike notice to take effect on that day. Bargaining will continue after the notice is given, and if it looks like progress is being made, notice can be rescinded and given for a later start date, if needed.

After the 23rd, OUS could implement all or part of their final offer; we could strike. They could try to run the university system without us. (That’s the move-in week, and United Academics at UO apparently also have some union actions planned for that week, I think of a more informative nature.) The last time we struck the settlement was better than their “final offer”.

If we don’t authorize the bargaining team to call a strike, and OUS implements its final offer, then we get whatever their offer is, and that’s the contract, however bad.

We have a legal right to strike, and can’t be punished or fired for doing so. If the universities bring in temps, part of the settlement for us to return to work would include everyone returning to their own jobs with no repercussions. Although the OUS lawyer tried to intimate differently in his letter to staff, historically the union has not and will not “punish” people for crossing the strike line, a.k.a. scabbing, but obviously people walking the line would not like to see their co-workers cross it. The union tries to handle that with discussion and with education about the financial help available to members who do some kind of strike duty.

Bargaining is at OSU on Friday and Saturday and I’m sure we’ll see an update early in the week.

SEIU Local 085