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Oregon’s public universities reach deal with union representing thousands of classified workers

Oregon State University campus in fall with people walking and biking, trees, grass, cars, buildings.
Maia Insinga
Oregon State University
Oregon State University's campus. It is one of seven public universities to reach a deal with the union representing thousands of classified employees.

Bargaining representatives for Oregon’s seven public universities and the union that represents classified workers came to an agreement this week.

The deal impacts more than 4,500 employees. It gives several raises over two years, starting with a 6.5% pay increase in April. They will also receive a one-time $1,500 payment and get Veteran’s Day off.

Steve Clark, the bargaining communications director for Oregon’s public universities, said the deal balanced employee’s increased cost of living with budgeting concerns.

“The bargaining teams reached agreement after months of discussion, months of negotiation,” he said, “And they gave it their all, and once again achieved a resolution that served both the employees of the universities and certainly students education.”

Johnny Earl, chair of the union’s higher education bargaining team, said the deal will come as a relief to many members who have struggled to make ends meet amidst worsening inflation. He said the pay increases and immediate payment will make a significant difference to those on the bottom of the university’s payscale.

“Some of our members have had to take on second jobs, many who work in food service, those that have kids, or are single parent households,” he said. “Some have had to go on food stamps.”

If employees vote to ratify the deal in the next few weeks, it will be in effect until 2026.

The deal covers classified workers at University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Western Oregon University, Eastern Oregon University, Portland State University, Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Institute of Technology.

Rebecca Hansen-White joined the KLCC News Department in November, 2023. Her journalism career has included stops at Spokane Public Radio, The Spokesman-Review, and The Columbia Basin Herald.