August 13, 2001

Contact: Bob Bruce, 503-725-5714
Source: Cynthia Beckwith, 541-346-5779

OUS Offers Union $20.4 Million for Salary, Benefit Increase

EUGENE - The Oregon University System has offered its classified employees a $20.4 million increase in salary and benefits for the 2001-2003 biennium as part of a final offer to settle a re-opener in union contract talks.

The final offer was submitted to the Oregon Employment Relations Board today under a deadline imposed by state labor relations law. Contract talks between OUS and Service Employees International Union Local 503, Oregon Public Employees Union have been at impasse since Aug. 6. As a condition of impasse both parties were required to submit final contract offers and cost estimates to ERB by Aug. 13.

The OUS offer proposes to increase salaries for its 3,700 classified union-represented employees by 2 percent in January 2002 and 2003. In addition, it continues automatic step increases totaling nearly $7 million, plus an upward range adjustment of $211,357, a $200,000 pool for selective salary adjustments, and $188,000 to provide equity for higher trade wages in the Portland area.

The offer also proposes to spend $8 million to help employees purchase group medical insurance under statewide plans administered by the Public Employees Benefit Board. Those plans, which become effective in January 2002, will limit some options currently available to all OUS employees, and are expected to increase premium costs by 26.5 percent in 2002 and again by double-digit figures in 2003.

Under the OUS proposal to the union, the employer contribution will cover full medical insurance costs for all classified employees with an annual salary of less than $30,000 per year. Higher paid workers will receive their current contribution, plus 75 percent of the increased premium cost.

The OUS offer also proposes changes in existing contract language on union rights, language on contracting out for work, a new definition of overtime work as work in excess of 40 hours per week, and modifications to current language on layoff procedures and definitions.

"With the proposals in our final offer we are hopeful that a fair and balanced settlement can be negotiated in a timely fashion when the parties next meet under mediation," said Cynthia Beckwith, OUS chief negotiator. The next mediation sessions between the bargaining teams are scheduled for Aug. 22 and Aug. 27.

Bargaining between OUS and its classified union has been underway since April on a limited re-opening of a four-year contact ratified in 1999.

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