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Classified Staff Negotiations

Frequently Asked Questions

The OUS bargaining team thought of some frequently asked questions that classified staff may have about negotiations and answered those questions below.  Additional questions and answers may be added as negotiations proceed. However, if there is a question that you would like answered, please submit your question to: seiunegotiations@ous.edu

Strikes (as of September 6, 2013):

What is the “status quo” period?

When a collective bargaining agreement, or contract, expires and is not extended, the contract is no longer in force and the parties enter into a “status quo” period.  During this period, certain conditions of employment must be maintained by the employer until the dispute resolution process achieves a settlement or, if settlement is not reached, the employer implements the terms of their final offer to the union.

Examples of terms and conditions that remain as “status quo” include wages, hours, current benefits (e.g., retirement and health insurance contributions), step increases, and leave accrual provisions.  Work rules may or may not be considered a status quo obligation, depending on their status as a mandatory subject of bargaining. 

Examples of terms and conditions that will not continue past contract expiration include grievance and arbitration procedures (actions by the Universities that occur after expiration of the agreement cannot be “grieved”) and payroll deductions for “fair share” employees. 

Who may strike?

Once SEIU submits a lawful strike notice, members of the SEIU bargaining unit, including fair-share and trial service employees, may participate in the strike.  These employees may also choose not to strike and may come to work. 

Who may not strike?

Any employee not represented by SEIU is prohibited from participating in a strike called by SEIU.  This includes:

  • Temporary employees, unless they are included in the bargaining unit;
  • Members of other unions not engaged in a lawful strike;
  • Unrepresented employees;
  • Unclassified employees: administrative professionals and faculty; and,
  • Student employees.

Which temporary employees may participate in the strike?

Temporary employees who have averaged four (4) hours or more per week during the previous quarter and have an expectation of continued employment are considered represented by SEIU and may participate in a strike. 

Must an employee participate in the strike?

No.  The decision to participate or not participate in the strike is entirely an employee’s personal decision.  

If an employee votes "yes" to authorize the Union to call a strike, must that employee participate in the strike?

No.  Even though an employee votes to authorize the Union to call a strike, that employee can still decide to not participate in the strike and come to work. 

May an employee who participates in the strike change his/her mind and return to work during the strike?

Yes.  An employee who participates in the strike may change his/her mind and return to work only once.  If the employee leaves on strike a second time, he/she will not be allowed to return a second time and must remain out on strike through the duration of the strike.

May the University replace striking employees?

Yes.  The University may hire or contract with temporary replacements.  The University may permanently replace striking employees for whom there is an “operational necessity” for replacement.  But, striking employees retain the right to make unconditional offers of reinstatement, to be reinstated upon such offers if positions are available, and to be placed on a preferential hiring list upon such offers if positions are not available at the time of the offer. 

What is “fair share” union member?

A “fair share” member (also called "financial core" member) is one who pays the financial equivalent of dues, but has no active role in the affairs of the SEIU.  A fair share member continues to receive all the benefits of the collective bargaining agreement, including employer-paid health, welfare and pension contributions.  Fair share membership has no effect on vested pension rights or the normal vesting requirements of the pension plan.  Moreover, the SEIU is required by law to represent a fair share employee with any grievance against the University just as it would a full union member. 

A fair share member is not considered a full member of the union and, therefore, is not required to abide by the rules, regulations or restrictions of the union’s constitution or local bylaws.  This means a fair share member is immune from the union’s disciplinary powers.  So, a fair share member can choose to cross the picket line and come to work without fear of union fines.  However, a fair share member would not have the right to vote for or against ratification of the University’s contract offer. 

May an employee later change back his/her “fair share” membership to “full membership”?

Yes.   A fair share or financial core employee can switch his/her membership from financial core to full or regular membership by notifying the SEIU of that choice.  The employee may be required to pay a reinstatement fee if it is not unreasonable, discriminatory or arbitrary.

What is the status of an employee out on strike?

Bargaining unit employees who lawfully exercise their right to strike are considered on strike leave without pay and, therefore, may not use any form of paid leave while engaging in strike activities.

Will an employee out on strike accrue vacation leave?

No.  Vacation leave does not accrue for an employee who participates in a strike.

What happens if an employee is on an approved vacation and the strike begins?

An employee already on vacation prior to the first day of a strike may continue his/her vacation as originally scheduled.  Should that vacation leave expire after a strike begins, the employee must return to work on the next workday or he/she will be considered to be on strike.

Will an employee who participates in the strike accrue sick leave?

No.  Sick leave will not accrue for an employee who participates in the strike.

May an employee who participates in the strike use sick leave if he/she becomes ill during the strike?

No.  An employee who participates in the strike will not be granted sick leave with pay for illnesses arising during the course of a strike. 

May an employee who participates in the strike use compensatory paid leave (“comp time”)?

No.  Use of compensatory paid leave will not be granted to an employee who participates in the strike. 

May an employee who participates in the strike use personal leave ?

No.  Use of personal paid leave will not be granted to an employee who participates in the strike.

May an employee who participates in the strike receive unemployment compensation?

No.  An employee who participates in the strike is not eligible for unemployment compensation.  

If an employee participates in the strike, will the SEIU provide strike benefits to that employee?

It depends.  Article XXI (pages 38-40) of the SEIU’s Administrative Policies and Procedures sets forth the requirements that must be met before a strike benefit is paid weekly.  In no particular order, the following have to be met: 

First, strike benefits are payable only to employees who are good standing members of the SEIU.  Thus, strike benefits are not available to “fair share” employees. 

Second, the SEIU’s Strike Benefit Fund must reach a threshold of at least $2 million dollars before benefits will be paid to employees participating in the strike.

Third, strike benefits are only paid to members in good standing who have participated in a strike for more than seven (7) days by appearing daily on the picket line or engaging in other activities authorized by the SEIU for those seven (7) days. 

Finally, the strike benefit is set by the SEIU’s Statewide Hardship Committee and is calculated based on the number of days an employees is on strike.  According to the SEIU’s website, the amount of the benefit will be $225 a week, which equates to $900 a month.  See:  http://www.seiu503.org/2013/08/if-we-decide-to-strike-qa-for-university-members/

May an employee who participates in the strike receive a pay advance?

No.  An employee who participates in the strike may not receive a pay advance.

May an employee who participates in the strike use military leave?

Yes.  Rules regarding paid and unpaid leave of absence for military duty are unaffected by a strike.

May an employee who participates in the strike receive health insurance?

It depends.  Premiums for medical and dental insurance are paid one month in advance.  If the employee works 80 hours or more in a month, the employee is entitled to insurance coverage for the following month.  For example, if an employee works 80 hours in August, he/she would have insurance coverage in September even if he/she participates in the strike for part of September.  If an employee does not meet the 80 hour eligibility requirement during the month of a strike, because the employee participated in the strike, the employee will lose insurance eligibility. 

If an employee loses insurance eligibility due to a change in employment status because of a strike, the employee may elect to pay for health coverage or group term life through COBRA.

May an employee who participates in the strike receive worker’s compensation?

No.  An employee who participates in the strike is not eligible for worker’s compensation for injuries that occur while participating in a strike activity.  An employee who does not participate in the strike and who suffers an on-the-job injury or injury going through a picket line may be eligible for worker's compensation. 

May an employee who participates in the strike have their trial service credit extended?

Yes, only if the employee participates in the strike more than 15 calendar days in a month.  If so, the trial service credit is extended by the number of days he/she participates in the strike beyond the 15 calendar days.  No extension of trial service credits occur if the employee participates in the strike for 15 days or less. 

May an employee who participates in the strike earn credit towards his/her seniority?

Yes.  An employee who participates in the strike can earn credit toward seniority for the purposes of annual salary reviews, promotions, etc., if participation in the strike is 15 days or less during a calendar month.  Such credit is earned on a pro-rata basis when participation in a strike occurs for 16 days or more in a calendar month. 

What are lawful strike activities?

Bargaining unit members who participate in a strike may picket, carry signs, and distribute handbills. This right may be limited in time, manner, and place to prevent injury to persons, damage to property, or disruption of classes or activities.

In general, these activities may occur on any sidewalk or inside any building other than classroom buildings, research and laboratory buildings, libraries, the student Health Center, or any area or building designated for authorized access only. 

What are unlawful strike activities?

Picketing or any other strike activity cannot interfere with the normal flow of persons or vehicular traffic into and from buildings.  This includes interfering with other employees reporting to work, visits by the public, students attending classes, business, or deliveries by trades people. 

 

Negotiations:

What are Ground Rules?

Ground Rules are simply guidelines that the OUS and Union agreed to adhere to during negotiations. The Ground Rules were agreed to in December of 2012.

When did negotiations begin?

Negotiations officially began on February 1, 2013 when the OUS and Union met at the Union’s headquarters in Salem. During this meeting the OUS gave SEIU a list of Articles and Letters of Agreement that it wished to open during negotiations. SEIU also gave the OUS its list.

When will negotiations occur next?

The dates, times and locations of when negotiations take place are discussed and agreed by the OUS and Union either at the end of a negotiation session or shortly thereafter.  We will post the dates, times and locations of negotiations under the Information about Negotiations tab.

Where are negotiations held?

Most negotiations will be held within the Willamette Valley either at Portland State University, Oregon Tech's Wilsonville campus, Oregon State University, Western Oregon University, or the University of Oregon.  The parties will also hold negotiations at either Eastern Oregon University, Oregon Tech's Klamath Falls campus, or Southern Oregon University.  It is also possible that negotiations may take place at the Salem offices of the OUS or Union.

Who is on the OUS’s bargaining team?

The OUS bargaining team includes Tracie Houtz (EOU), Ron McCutcheon (OIT), Jeri Hemmer (OSU), Tracey Yee (OSU), Terrill Bartee (PSU), Jay Stephens (SOU), Terry Leary (UO), Judy Vanderburg (WOU), Bill Sexton (WOU), and Brian Caufield (OUS).

What is the PECBA timeline?

The Oregon Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA) provides that the OUS and Union must engage in good faith bargaining for at least 150 calendar days. If no agreement is reached after the 150 days, either party can begin the mediation process by requesting the assistance of a mediator that is appointed by the Employment Relations Board (ERB). The parties are required to be in the mediation process for at least 15 calendar days. If no agreement is reached during mediation the parties can continue mediation or either can declare an impasse. If an impasse is declared, both parties must send the mediator a Final Offer and cost summary within 7 calendar days of declaring impasse. Those Final Offers and cost summaries are then made public. Once made public, there is a 30 day “cooling off” period to allow for more negotiations in an attempt to reach agreement. If the parties still are unable to reach agreement, upon proper notice to the other party, the Union can strike and the OUS can implement all or part of the Final Offer.

For more information on negotiation under PECBA, please visit the ERB’s website at: http://www.oregon.gov/ERB/Pages/PECBAOverview.aspx

Why do I have to wait until after a negotiation session to get a summary of OUS’s proposals?

The Union is your exclusive bargaining representative and the law requires that the OUS must first present proposals to the Union. After those proposals are presented to the Union, the OUS can provide summaries or copies of those proposals. We intend to do just that under the Information about Negotiations tab.