Supporting Striking SEIU University Workers: DOs and DON’Ts

September 24, 2019 / Jose Padin

Dear Colleagues, PSU Faculty and Academic Professionals:


As many of you know, classified university employees across Oregon public universities — our colleagues represented by SEIU — have authorized a strike, and they may walk out on strike next Monday, September 30, if they are not able to get a fair contract.

For years, these colleagues have received “cost of living adjustments” that are significantly below inflation. This means that, in real dollars, they have been receiving pay cuts. This is a major sticking point in the negotiations, and we, the members of PSU-AAUP, support their wish to put an end to salary erosion. Many of them are eligible for public assistance, and disparities between the top and the bottom at universities continue to widen.

Our colleagues at SEIU are critical to the success of PSU. We work with many of them on a day to day basis.

You may ask, what legal ways do we, the faculty and academic professionals represented by PSU-AAUP have to express support of these colleagues in SEIU if they are forced go on strike next week?

We have developed the following guidelines for faculty and academic professionals in consultation with our attorneys. Please review the DOs and DON'Ts below before you think of ways to support our colleagues if they go on strike.


What You CAN Legally Do to Support Striking SEIU Colleagues

  • Express support for SEIU
  • Not perform the duties of striking SEIU workers in your department or unit. This is both a legal act of solidarity with fellow PSU workers, and a legitimate interest we have in protecting the integrity of workload in our “bargaining unit”. Not performing the duties assigned to striking workers is, thus, a protected activity under the state law (PECBA). If a supervisor insists on signing you up to do the work of striking SEIU workers, you have the right to say no; let them know PSU-AAUP has informed you of this right. Inform PSU-AAUP immediately so we can take action.
  • Stand at the picket lines during your off hours:
    • If you are overtime eligible (Non-exempt employee) (where you earn a salary but can earn overtime), that is during your lunch break and during your morning or afternoon 15-minute breaks, and before and after the workday.
    • If you are overtime exempt (salaried, and do not qualify for overtime), that is during any 30-minute period you consider your lunch break, and before or after the workday.
    • All of us can also join the picket lines on a day we have off for vacation (You should not, however, call in sick and then join the picket line.)
  • Provide food or other support items to the strikers (on your own time).
  • Encourage other colleagues to provide support to strikers, but make sure to remind them this support must be provided during their own off-work hours.
  • Reassure students who feel anxiety about crossing picket lines that you understand that anxiety and will not penalize them if they decide not to come to class. Alternative work will be provided online through D2L for all students who do not come to class while there is a strike on campus.


What You CANNOT Legally Do

  • PSU-AAUP cannot ask you not to come to work, as this would constitute a sympathy strike, and sympathy strikes are unlawful.
  • PSU-AAUP cannot encourage you to make your own personal decision about coming to work or not, as this could be construed as encouraging a sympathy strike, and you, as an individual, can open yourself to a reprimand or other sanctions. However, if there is work that you routinely do and you are authorized to do off campus, this you may continue to do.

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