Oregon universities avert SEIU strike

Sep 15, 2011

SALEM, Ore. – Negotiators have averted a potential strike at Oregon's seven public universities, at least for now. The Oregon University System and the union representing nearly 4,000 front-line employees agreed on a tentative two-year settlement early Thursday morning.

As the clock ticked past midnight, SEIU lead negotiator Marc Nisenfeld says it was clear the momentum was there for an agreement. So the bargaining team did everything they could to stay awake.

"There was lots of coffee being poured, lots of coffee runs being made. We had a couple of our team members play guitars for awhile," Nisenfeld says. "There's a lot of waiting, a lot of sitting around doing nothing."

After 19 hours at the table, both sides agreed on a deal around 4:30 in the morning Thursday. The settlement came just hours before union members were set to take a strike authorization vote. Now the workers will vote over the coming weeks whether to approve the settlement.

The SEIU represents nearly 4,000 mostly blue-collar workers on university campuses. The schools had been making contingency plans in case a strike disrupted the start of the fall term next week.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network