Oregon university workers relieved to avoid strike

Sep 16, 2011

MONMOUTH, Ore. - Public university employees in Oregon say they're glad they won't be going on strike. But that doesn't mean they're all happy with the tentative contract deal. Negotiators reached that settlement early Thursday morning after an all-night bargaining session.

This was going to be a meeting to discuss a possible strike. Instead, SEIU members here at Western Oregon University got details of a tentative agreement reached with the Oregon University System. Some workers who wouldn't speak on tape called the deal a step backward and said they were upset with the contract. But most I talked to said at the very least, they'll be glad to stay on the job. Angie Barry is an office coordinator at Western Oregon.

Angie Barry: "I know we all are very relieved that we didn't have to strike. But we were prepared for that. If we needed to, we needed to."

Like many other state employees, the nearly 4,000 classified university workers are being asked to take more unpaid furlough days and pay health insurance premiums in exchange for a roughly 3 percent raise over two years. Oregon University Chancellor George Pernsteiner called the deal "a fair settlement" that reflects "the realities of an unstable economy."

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network

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