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Classified Staff Negotiations

OUS Information

The OUS bargaining team will, from time-to-time, provide information that we think may be useful.  The information will either directly or indirectly relate to negotiations.  Below are bios for the OUS bargaining team because we felt that it was important for you to get to know us and not just our names.  Also below are some useful links, which may be added to as negotiations continue.  If there is some other information not included here, but that you feel should be on this page, you can always email your suggestion to seiunegotiations@ous.edu.

Union Re-Issues Notice of Intent To Strike.

On September 18 the SEIU filed a new notice of intent to strike beginning September 30, updated from their original date of September 23.  That notice may be withdrawn and the OUS remains hopeful that a fair settlement can be reached prior to a strike.  Regardless of the outcome, OUS campuses are prepared for a strike.  Classes will begin on time on September 30, and campus services will proceed uninterrupted.

Union Rejects Offer to Extend Contract and Healthcare Subsidy

Today the Union rejected the OUS’s offer to extend both the contract and the $40.00 healthcare contribution subsidy for employees earning $2,816 or less per month.  The OUS offered to extend both to allow the subsidy to continue, give the bargaining process stability, and allow some additional time for the parties to work through temporary worker proposals each received last week.  The Union rejected the OUS offer and, as such, both the contract and subsidy will expire at midnight, August 31.

When a collective bargaining agreement, or contract, expires and is not extended, the contract is no longer in force and the parties enter into a “status quo” period.  During this period, certain conditions of employment must be maintained by the OUS until the dispute resolution process achieves a settlement or, if settlement is not reached, the OUS implements terms of its final offer to the Union.

Examples of terms and conditions that remain as “status quo” include wages, hours, current benefits (e.g., retirement and health insurance contributions), step increases, and leave accrual provisions.  Work rules may or may not be considered a status quo obligation, depending on their status as a mandatory subject of bargaining.  See the post below for more information on mandatory subjects.

Examples of terms and conditions that will not continue past contract expiration include grievance and arbitration procedures (actions by the Universities that occur after expiration of the agreement cannot be “grieved”) and “fair share” dues deductions.

Permissive Proposals Only Muddy The Waters

Throughout negotiations the Union has maintained proposals related to staffing ratios and going after the “big banks”.  These proposals are considered “permissive”, and the OUS is not required to bargain over these proposals, nor can these proposals be mediated or used as the reason to strike. 

Oregon’s Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (also known as PECBA) is the law that governs negotiations between the OUS and SEIU.  The PECBA defines, among other things, what must be negotiated between the parties and what does not have to be negotiated.  The law requires negotiations over “employment relations”, otherwise known as “mandatory” topics, which PECBA identifies as monetary benefits, hours, vacations, sick leave, grievance procedures and other conditions of employment.  The PECBA also outlines what is not covered by the definition of “employment relations”, also known as a “permissive” topic.  Over the years the Oregon Employment Relations Board (“ERB”), the State agency responsible for enforcing the PECBA, has interpreted what is a “mandatory” topic that must be negotiated between the parties and what is a “permissive” topic about which either party can refuse to negotiate. 

The Union’s proposal relating to staffing ratios is one of those topics that the legislature has defined as being a permissive subject.  ORS 243.650(7)(g).  The “big bank” proposal is one that does not relate to monetary benefits, hours, vacations, sick leave, grievance procedures or other conditions of employment.  Conditions of employment can be a “catch all” category, but one easy way to determine a condition of employment is to ask “does it affect the work I do every day?”.  If not, it is likely considered permissive. 

Whether a proposal is permissive or mandatory is important because it determines whether or not a party must negotiate over that proposal.  Indeed, it is an unfair labor practice for a party to insist on negotiations over a permissive proposal to the point that it causes an impasse between the parties.  The ERB has said that “[a] public employer may agree or not agree to talk about a permissive topic, but cannot be required to bargain.” Springfield Education Ass’n., 1 PECBR 347, 350 (1975). Moreover, a permissive proposal may not be pursued into the mediation phase of negotiations unless the other party failed to object to the proposal as being permissive.  Finally, public employees in Oregon cannot strike over a permissive proposal.

The OUS bargaining team once again reiterated its position to the Union that its staffing ratios and “big banks” proposals are permissive and we will not negotiate those proposals.  Those proposals are permissive and there is no requirement to negotiate them.  There already are so many mandatory topics left to discuss that permissive proposals like these only “muddy the waters” and cause the parties to lose focus.  Also, as the parties enter the mediation phase of negotiations these proposals are likely not going to be considered by the mediator assigned because the OUS bargaining team has already objected to them as being permissive.  And finally, while no one wants to encounter a strike, if one were to occur the reason for such could never be related to the proposals on staffing ratios or the “big banks”.

The OUS bargaining team hopes the Union will, once again, reconsider the OUS’s request that it withdraw these permissive proposals so that the parties can focus on the remaining mandatory topics and get to a speedy resolution of these negotiations. 

The OUS Bargaining Team

Tracie Houtz:  Eastern Oregon University

Tracie arrived to Eastern Oregon University in 2007 as the Assistant Bookstore Manager.  In 2008, she joined the Human Resources Office as its Benefits/Personnel Officer, and was promoted in 2011 to the Assistant Director of Human Resources.

Tracie is a native of Oregon, and is proud to call Eastern Oregon her home for the past 42 years.  When she is not at EOU, Tracie enjoys horseback riding, packing into the mountains, fishing and boating, camping and dutch-oven cooking.

Tracie is an EOU Alum, graduating with B.S. in Business Administration.  She has two children, a daughter carrying on the EOU tradition as a freshman and a son who is a freshman in high school.  

Ron McCutcheon: Oregon Tech

Ron joined Oregon Institute of Technology in 1996 as the Director of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity as well as Services for Students with Disabilities. In 2007 he was named Director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action Officer.  Prior to joining Oregon Tech he served in several positions for Klamath County, including Community Mental Health Director, Contracting Officer, and Director of Personnel and Risk Management. 

Ron is a native Oregonian, although most of his youth was spent in Montana.  He attended college and university in Montana and Michigan and holds degrees in history, psychology and philosophy.

Jeri Hemmer: Oregon State University

Jeri joined Oregon State University (OSU) in 2005 the Associate Director for the Employee Relations, Compensation and Classification Team in the Office of Human Resources. Prior to joining OSU, Jeri worked in Oregon State government for seventeen years.  She worked at the Oregon Department of Transportation in progressive roles of responsibility and advanced to the Employee and Labor Relations Manager in 2001. Jeri served eight years at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), and advanced to the Personnel Manager before leaving in 1998.  Jeri also worked at the Employment Division in 1989 and originally started her career with the Department of Education and advanced to the Parole Board before taking a break in her career.

Jeri brings to OSU a broad range of experience in all aspects of Human Resources functions.  Her labor relations experience includes the role of chief negotiator with the Coalition of Graduate Employees using interest-based negotiations principles.  Jeri has responded to grievances, represented each organization at arbitration, processed unit clarifications, and negotiated the first ever contract for DPSST.

Since 2000, Jeri has been a certified Senior Human Resources Professional (SPHR) through the Society of Human Resources Management. Jeri earned a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Master’s in Education from Western Oregon University.

Tracey Yee: Oregon State University

Tracey joined Oregon State University (OSU) in 2008 as a Human Resources Coordinator in the Employment Services department, working on recruitments, criminal history checks, and statistical data collection for affirmative action and veteran status information.  She became the Classification and Compensation Officer in 2010, with primary responsibility for the administration and management of OSU’s classification and compensation structure, including position analysis, reclassifications, and FLSA review.  Tracey served on the OSU bargaining committee for the OSU/Coalition of Graduate Employees 2012-2016 contract negotiations.

Tracey is a native of Michigan, and graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Physical Anthropology.  She studied abroad at Cambridge University and Birkbeck College at the University of London on a Forensic Anthropology program, and has participated in archaeological excavations in upper Michigan.  She moved to Oregon in 1989, and spent her first 4 years here working in social services as the Medical Director of a free clinic, dental and counseling program for homeless and low-income populations in Benton and Linn Counties.

Terrill Bartee: Portland State University

Terrill joined Portland State University in 2001 as the Classification and Compensation Manager.  Prior to joining Portland State, Terrill worked with the “I Have a Dream” Foundation, a non-profit organization, where he helped at-risk students graduate from high school and transition to college.  

Terrill enjoys travelling and has been to Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia where he visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia, one of the great ancient wonders of the world.  In his free time Terrill enjoys basketball, soccer and backpacking.

Terrill graduated from Lewis and Clark College with a degree in Psychology and is the proud father of a nearly six month old beautiful little girl.

Jay Stephens: Southern Oregon University

Jay began as Southern’s Director of Human Resources in May of 2011.  Prior to Southern he spent five years in Utah as the Director of Human Resources at the College of Eastern Utah, now Utah State University-Eastern, and earlier as a Human Resources Analyst in the Office of Human Resources at the Utah Department of Human Services.

Jay grew up in the rural Nevada town of Beatty, close to Death Valley.  While in Beatty, Jay worked in gold mine.  He lived in Europe for a time in Portugal and the Azores Islands, and speaks Portuguese.  In his spare time Jay enjoys woodworking, golf, trips to the Oregon coast, and spending time with his family. 

Jay is a graduate of Brigham Young University holding a Bachelor of Arts in History, focusing on World War II, and a Master of Public Administration. 

Terry L. Leary: University of Oregon

Since 2010, Terry Leary has been the Human Resources Manager for the University of Oregon’s Department of Campus Operations, where she oversees a wide range of issues including hiring, performance management, discipline and supervisory training and development for its 350 employees.   Terry’s current responsibilities involve working regularly with supervisors, employees, and union representatives on issues requiring interpretation and application of the contract.

Terry came to the University of Oregon in 2006 when she joined the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity as an AA/EO Specialist.  She was later promoted to the Associate Director of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.  In that position, she worked with a variety of discrimination issues, including those related to contract concerns and employee grievances.

Terry was born in Belgium and grew up in Europe and Asia because of her father’s position with the U.S. Department of State.  She has lived in Oregon since 1997.  She holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Oregon.

William (Bill) Sexton: Western Oregon University

Bill joined the Western Oregon University (WOU) Office of Human Resources in December of 2009 after working in Oregon State government for thirty-four (34) years.  Bill was appointed the Employee Relations/Training/Classifications Manager at WOU.  Prior to joining WOU, Bill worked at the Oregon Employment Department (OED) where he served as Assistant Human Resources Director for six (6) years.  Prior to working at OED, Bill served as Human Resources Director for the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA), Senior Statewide Classifications Analyst for the Department of Administrative Services (DAS), Classifications Analyst for the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and Personnel Officer at Fairview Training Center for the Department of Human Services.  

Bill brings to WOU a broad experience in all aspects of Human Resources functions.  His labor relations experience includes contract administration and collective bargaining negotiations representing Oregon State Agencies on both the Central and Coalition bargaining tables with SEIU, AFSCME bargaining tables, AEE, ONA and other labor organization negotiations.

Bill was born and grew up in New York City, and came to Oregon by way of Los Angeles after college and working as a Psychiatric Nurse for five (5) years.  Bill also earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources Management at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon.  He also completed the Certification Program in Public Administration at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.  Bill is also certified Senior Human Resources Professional (SPHR) through the Society of Human Resources Management.

Brian A. Caufield: Oregon University System

Brian joined the Oregon University System’s (“OUS”) Office of the Chancellor in August of 2012.  He was appointed as Associate General Counsel for Labor and Employment in the Office of General Counsel.  Prior to joining OUS, Brian worked at Fox Rothschild LLP, a nationwide law firm, where he represented employers in all aspects of labor relations and was named a leading Labor and Employment Attorney in New Jersey by Chambers USA.  Brian started his legal career as a Field Attorney with the National Labor Relations Board.

Brian’s labor relations experience has included collective bargaining negotiations, arbitrations, union representation petitions, unfair labor practice investigations and hearings, trials before administrative law judges, and oral arguments before the second highest court in the Nation.  Brian’s non-legal career included serving as President of labor union and adjunct professor.

Brian is a native of the east coast, coming to Oregon by way of Pennsylvania.  He is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and is awaiting word from the Oregon State Bar after having filed his reciprocity admissions application. 

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