Classified workers at Oregon's 7 public universities have tentatively agreed to a new contract. The union was planning a strike vote next week if a settlement couldn’t be reached.
Mark Nisenfeld is a Development Engineer at Portland State University. He chairs the Service Employee International Union 503 bargaining team.
He says the agreement came in the early morning hours Thursday. Classified workers include custodians, food service workers and clerical staff, what Nisenfeld calls the infrastructure of the universities. He doesn't know how schools would function without them.
Nisenfeld:" And I think they finally realized that and realized how serious we were and that's why they put something on the table that we thought was good enough to settle the contract on."
The 4 year contract includes a 2.25 percent cost of living increase every 2 years. Nisenfeld says the union made gains in health care coverage expanding it to cover ¾ time employees. The agreement also includes pay raises for early childhood educators at the University of Oregon and Oregon State. Union members vote to ratify the contract in early October.