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President’s Message

Presidents Message
By 085 President, Johnny Earl

February 28, 2024

Union Siblings,

What a wild ride this bargaining campaign has been. I was appointed President of our local a month before the official start date of bargaining and hit the ground running. Our bargaining surveys showed clearly that members were demanding higher cost of living proposals than anything we had ever asked for in the past. The bargaining team heard you loud and clear. When we first met with management last fall, their proposals were all take-aways from our contract: reducing personal days, contracting out our jobs, and eliminating the way we can file a union grievance for working out of class. Not to mention management’s miserly cost of living proposals. It was as though the pandemic did not exist and we had not suffered in the highest inflationary times since the 1970s. Well, look where we ended up: the highest cost of living increases ever won over a two-year period, maintaining our personal days, and forcing management to drop contracting out language.  

If management was able to contract out our work without doing a feasibility & equity study, we would all be in real trouble. Management’s attempt to change contractual language regarding working out of class and the extra payment that we receive after doing this work for more than 10 days was also a non-starter for us; we all would be doing almost everything management wants in the office setting without being compensated for it.  

This contract was about respect and compensation. At the table, I kept saying that we had to ensure that our members brought home some cash to make up for inflation – cash which, if our membership approves, you will be receiving on April 30th. Although the cost of living that we settled on is below our original proposal, I believe there was no money left on the table by the time that we were done bargaining. By November 1, if the agreement is ratified, you will see a 8.5% cost of living increase in your paycheck. Combine that with the 4.75% you receive if you are still climbing the steps (if you are ‘topped out’ for a year and have 5-years longevity, you will receive a 2.5% differential).  Added together, most of us will be receiving at least 11% additional pay before the end of the year!  

This is my last bargaining campaign. How bittersweet. In my time at the bargaining table over the last 10 years, I have always felt joy and relief at the end of the marathon bargaining negotiations. This time around, I had sadness – not because we didn’t get everything that we asked for, but because of the bitter tone in the room and from across the table. In years past, both management and the union shared a handshake and a toast to the hard work of winning a contract in good faith. This time there was no handshake, no smile, no shard feeling that we had just done something for our universities. Instead there was just silence as if we had stolen money from them. I don’t know what the future has to offer but if this kind of contractual bargaining continues we are all in for some challenging times. Respect is of primary importance for us to continue working on mutual goals that benefit everyone in our institution (students, staff, faculty, and managers). All of our jobs matter and we must be paid a fair wage. Next time, when the Universities go to Salem to fund their budget, our next cost of living increase better be included. Thank you for allowing me to be of service.  

Johnny Earl

Housing Bonus

Congratulations to our Housing Staff for the one time bonus of Appreciation given to them at the end of April. This bonus was in appreciation for all the hard work done last summer for the 2022 World Track and Field Championships. As I’m sure we all can remember, it was all hands on deck. That meant mandatory overtime several weekends in a row in July and August of 2022. The event was a success because of a true team effort between the employees in the Housing Department with assistance from the Campus Planning and Facilities (CPFM) custodial staff.

Last fall, the CPFM staff received a onetime Appreciation Bonus for the work they did during the Games, although Housing didn’t. It was my role as a member of the 085 executive team, and also as a member of the CPFM custodial team that worked alongside the Housing staff, to ask why they didn’t receive a bonus as well. Even last fall, in an appreciation luncheon hosted by the President’s office, I asked the past President and Vice President of Finance and Administration if the Housing staff was going to receive a one time bonus as well? It was starting to become a real point of frustration to our members in Housing. Not only did they feel passed over by management again, but they also felt disrespected by management again for all the hard work they had been doing not only last summer, but over the last two years during the pandemic – all while being short staffed. It’s hard for those working in Housing -or anywhere on campus- to watch management build new dormitories, and to feel these inflationary times eat into our buying power at the grocery store. Someone even asked me if the University prized building over paying people a decent wage? The answer to that question will come in this upcoming Bargaining campaign this Fall.

The acknowledgement of the above-and-beyond work of our colleagues in housing via a bonus in the April paycheck was perfect and greatly appreciated as we head into another busy summer conference schedule. My experience with bonuses is that you may not get one every year, but they are a true sign of appreciation. I would like to quote our last President Michael Schill, “The best way to show people that you appreciate them is giving them money.”  I agree with his statement but I would like to also add that we worked for it, we asked for it, and we won it.

Sincerely,
Johnny Earl
President|
Local 085, UO
SEIU 503

LOCAL PRESIDENT CHANGE.

Our President, Stephanie Prentiss, has left the University. See her farewell letter below. Please join us in welcoming Johnny Earl as Interim Local 85 President! Johnny has served our local for more than 20 years and was most recently elected as our Vice President. In accordance with our local’s bylaws, Johnny will step into the position of President until new elections next spring. You can reach him at johnnyearl59@gmail.com

STEPHANIE’S FAREWELL MESSAGE

Hi wonderful and amazing UO SEIU Local 85 members!  I’m writing this to you to say thank you for your support, votes, feedback, and being amazing humans. I’m leaving the university to take an Organizer position with SEIU 503, and I will miss you all. I’m still in Eugene and may pop in to say hi now and then. I encourage you all to grow our union here at UO and support the phenomenal leadership that Johnny and the team provide. Stay safe, and be active participants in our union for your families and your co-workers. And know your power! In solidarity, Stephanie Prentiss