PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Employees from public universities in Oregon held a rally Monday at Portland State University, saying they’re ready to strike next week if they don’t receive a fair contract.
The employees work at Oregon’s seven public universities in roles like information technology, maintenance, financial aid, custodial services, and food preparation, among others.
There are 4,500 higher-education workers who are represented by the SEIU Local 503.
Union representatives say about half of the worker who are set to strike make less than $40,000 a year, hundreds make less than 25,000 a year, and one in six qualify for food stamps.
The workers have been negotiation since February, and if they don’t come to an agreement in the next few days, they say they’ll go on strike Monday morning.
“We haven’t had a strike in 24 years and we hope to avoid a strike this year, but they’re going to miss us if a week from today we’re out on picket lines instead of doing our jobs,” Rob Fuller, an IT specialist at PSU, said.
“Campuses make decisions about paying off presidents here at PSU for a million dollars, and if PSU was to put a million extra dollars in this contract, you’d see us a lot closer to being able to settle this thing,” Melissa Unger, executive director of SEIU Local 503, said.
FOX 12 has reached out to the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission and the seven public universities in Oregon but did not immediately hear back.
Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.