Monthly Local Meeting – September 26th, 2013

The big news on September 26 was the tentative agreement, reached at 2:30 a.m. Local 085 bargaining representative Kurt Willcox spoke at the UO local meeting at noon, preceded by UO’s wonderful Labor Choir who led the group in a singalong of “We Have Moved the Bargaining Along!”

Kurt told us he felt we had won a huge victory. OUS did not want to give us anything we wanted, and had many takeaways on the table. He said we got our settlement because of member action. The bargaining team told OUS for months their proposals were unacceptable but it was member actions and willingness to strike that finally led to a good settlement. He also mentioned that he had run for bargaining rep because he was tired of seeing substandard settlements, and he thinks we got a better one this time over all, though of course there were some disappointments too.

Many thank-yous throughout the meeting from Kurt and from members to students including ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz, law students, GTFs, faculty and some managers, and United Academics for their support. Also a shout-out to SEIU 503 staff members Norma Martinez-Hosang and Denise Garrett (not to mention our own Lisa Sieracki, who took time off her job to do strike prep and organizing work with the union).

Kurt mentioned the Papa’s Pizza fundraiser for Carl Abeyta (UO Printing and Mailing Services, who is a Teamster and therefore not eligible for hardship leave donations).

The union has lots of t-shirts now as we just got a new shipment in preparation for the strike.

The Contract

We basically got the same as DAS but with a few twists. It doesn’t appear we lost ground although we didn’t get some of the things we wanted. Furlough days are gone. FLSA-exempt workers will see the same language on overtime work in this contract as is in the current contract, since we beat back the OUS proposals. A member asked about the 6% “PERS” pickup, which the state pays and which now goes into the IAP. She saw that faculty got a provision in their contract whereby if the legislature rescinded the 6% pickup, they would have their salaries raised 6%. Kurt replied that we have that provision in our current contract and it is staying in the next contract (DAS also has it).

Steps

Kurt said the big breakthrough came at midnight, when OUS finally agreed to two full steps. The way they will be implemented is complicated and depends on what the legislature does in February. Everyone eligible for a step will get their step on June 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015 at the latest. But, you might get your step when it is actually due. That’s because there is only $1.15 million missing from the OUS budget in order for the four smaller schools to be able to give steps. We’ll be asking the legislature to fund that when they go back in regular session in February. There is no guarantee, but we feel fairly confident this will happen. When the time comes, members will be strongly encouraged to tell their legislators how important it is to fund this.

If the legislature is able to appropriate the $1.15 million to OUS in February, people will get their step increases, and they will be retroactive to when they were supposed to occur. For instance if you should have gotten a step increase in November, but instead you get the money in March or April, you will see retroactive money for the months that were missed.

If you’ve already gotten your step since the start of July 2013, you keep the money you’ve received, but the step increase will disappear from your pay. Then if the legislature appropriates the $1.15 million in February, your step will be restored and again, you’ll receive the money for the months that was missing.

IF the legislature does not appropriate the money, those who should have gotten steps but didn’t will get them June 30, 2014, and those who got their step and then had it frozen will see it resume June 30, 2014 and none of it will be retroactive.

Regardless of when you get the step it will still add to your base pay and so help with salary and retirement over time.

Cost of Living Increase

The COLA is 1.5% in December 2013 and 2% in December 2014.

Health Insurance

We have the same agreement as DAS: a 95/5% split in paying insurance premiums. We also have a “path to 3%” in the second year of the contract, but whether we are able to go down that path will partly depend on what PEBB does. OUS is pushing PEBB to offer more plan choice. Right now some areas of the state have only one plan available. We want members to have a choice of plans. Then, if 95% of members have a choice of two or more plans in 2015, everyone who chooses the lower cost plan will pay 3% rather than 5% of the premium. (That probably means that members who choose the PEBB statewide plan will continue to pay the 5%.) The $40 low-income insurance subsidy, which wasn’t paid in September will return and be retroactive to September 1. Those with a salary rate of $2816/month or less are eigible for this subsidy.

IT Classification

IT classes seem to be status quo. OUS didn’t succeed with its proposals. We had some proposals for better “step” increases past the control point, but couldn’t put them through. Their increases will follow the same convoluted path as step increases.

Disappointments

Domestic partner health insurance. The union pushed on this til the end but OUS was not interested and refused to budge. The same with the early retirement incentive. We didn’t do awfully well with salary selectives and differentials either, but we did get a differential for the early childhood assistants and teachers who work with special needs children. We got a selective salary increase for medical aides at the health centers.

Perhaps the hardest disappointment is that we have “no floor for the poor”: we were unable to bargain a living wage floor. OUS just would not move on that despite the numbers of low-paid workers who qualify for state aid. This will be on the agenda for the next contract, however. Several people in the room pointed out that many people would have walked over that, but apparently although that was true at UO, that was not true at campuses state-wide. We could not have had a successful strike over just this one issue, but that doesn’t mean we plan to abandon it.

The union will be sending out more info soon and there will be meetings to discuss the settlement. A ratification vote may be both on-site and mailed out.

SEIU Local 503 Sublocal 085: University of Oregon
© 2011 SEIU – SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION,™ CLC