SEIU Solidarity Lunch Courtesy Photo 2

Union members gather at Portland State University's campus during a union solidarity lunch for classified staff Aug. 21. Contract negotiations between Oregon's seven public universities and the union representing the classified employees who work at those universities broke down in August. (Courtesy of SEIU 503)

After months of bargaining, classified staff from Oregon’s seven public universities and university administrators reached a tentative contract agreement on Saturday morning. The 22-hour bargaining session prevented a strike scheduled for Sept. 30, according to the union’s website

Union members will vote to ratify the contract in October and if approved, it will be implemented in November, according to a post on Around the O. 

Among the provisions in the tentative contract agreement are no changes in workers’ healthcare costs and cost-of-living-adjustments that the union described as the largest in “more than a decade.”

Rob Fullmer, the bargaining team’s chair and IT specialist at Portland State University, referred to classified workers as “the backbone of Oregon’s universities” in a statement.

“This contract acknowledges the incredible value that university workers bring to our students and to our campuses,” Fullmer said. “When Oregon’s public employees work together and make their voices heard, we have the power to move Oregon families forward and make our state a better place.”

UO’s chief human resources officer, Mark Schmelz, described classified staff as “an essential part of the university community.” 

“I am incredibly grateful to the members of the bargaining teams for their many hours of work to reach agreement,” he said in a statement posted on Around the O. "SEIU employees are an essential part of the university community, providing services that impact every aspect of our student’s educational experience and our research mission."