Bargaining Update 8/19: Impasse Declared

“After a frustrating and frankly insulting two days at the bargaining table, we determined that declaring impasse is currently our best path forward,” said the SEIU 503 Higher Education Bargaining Team in an email to members dated 8/19/2019.

Let management know that you are willing to walk out for a fair contract by signing the strike pledge now.

What does impasse mean?

Under Oregon law, once impasse is declared both parties have seven (7) days to submit their best and final offers for publication, followed by a 30-day cooling off period. After the cooling off period, the universities may implement their final offer and workers may go out on strike. The parties will continue to negotiate through the cooling off period and a potential strike until an agreement is reached.

What’s preventing us from reaching an agreement?

Despite record-high funding for higher education and a strong economy, management is proposing insignificant  wage increases (nothing in 2019 and no cost of living increase more than 1% in the rest of the contract). In addition, they want to delay steps in the second year of the contract. After arriving late to bargaining on Thursday, management told us we have to settle for whatever is left after taking care of everyone else on campus. 

What’s at stake?

In addition to wages, management continues to put forward proposals that will make our universities a worse place to work and learn:

  • Inclement weather: We are holding out against management’s resistance to paying us when campuses are closed due to inclement weather.

  • Layoffs: Management is trying to reduce workers’ rights during a layoff.

  • Mutual Respect: Management has been very resistant to clarifying workplace bullying.

What can you do to help us get to a settlement?  

  • Let management know that you are willing to walk out for a fair contract by signing the strike pledge now.

  • Sign up to be a CAT or Strike Leader for your worksite. To do so, contact Chief CAT, Lois Yoshishige – (541) 346-1251 and/or 085 Higher Ed Organizer Elizabeth Breton – ‭(203) 812-9205

  • Organize a Unity Break at your worksite

  • Purple Up and wear a yellow “Ready to Strike” button at work

  • Display a “Ready to Strike” placard in your car and/or work area

  • Talk to your coworkers about why you’re ready to strike and urge them to sign the strike pledge

  • Distribute the Community Support Petition within your personal networks

Help show the universities that we are willing to do what it takes to get a fair contract!

Read the full update and access the strike prep materials Q&A. 


Summary of Economic Proposals

Union’s Proposals

Management’s Proposals


3.75% COLA July 1, 2019

3.5% COLA July 1, 2020

0% (Not a typo) COLA in 2019

1% COLA March 1, 2020

0.75% COLA November 1, 2020

0.75% COLA March 1, 2021


Regular step increases each year of the contract

Add a step at the top and eliminate lowest step the first year of the contract

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


Current contract language

Current contract language


Current contract language, which protects us against potential cuts

Current contract language


Increase to 300 hours/40 hours cash pay-out

Decrease accrual cap to 180 hours.

Personal Leave

Increase to 32 hours per year

Current contract language

Contract Term

2 Years

4 Years with limited reopener on economics

Meal Discounts

Maintain $1 meal for dining services employees

Increase cost of shift meal to $3 for UO

In Unity,
SEIU 503 Higher Education Bargaining Team
Rob Fullmer, Chair
Jo Hickerson (EOU)
Nilda Peña (OIT)
Gloria O’Brien (OSU)
Bill Harris (PSU)
Colleen Martin-Low (SOU)
Johnny Earl (UO)
Trisha Guy (WOU)
Catherine Stearns, Notetaker (SEIU Retiree)
Keith Quick, Spokesperson (SEIU Staff)

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SEIU Local 085