Letter from the President:
We held our second mediated bargaining meeting last Friday on May 3rd in an all-day session starting at 8am. Since our bargaining team had come prepared last week with a full set of proposals, the ball was in the administration’s court. We exchanged some non-economic articles in the morning, and UO finally showed some real movement on our demand for paid job trainings for GEs! We aren’t yet settled, but the administration finally capitulated on the importance of paid teaching and job training for graduate employees.
After this exchange, the administration argued that they did not come with an economic proposal because they require more information and data regarding the nature of our health insurance. This was quite frustrating to hear given that the administration has a sitting member on the GTFF Health and Welfare Trust who is active in every decision we make regarding the management of our insurance plan. Our team re-presented the health insurance information we have showed them over the past months. We again showed how the administration’s proposal would gut our health insurance, especially critical benefits like vision, dental, and dependent coverage. We also ran a comparison between our plan and the Oregon public employee insurance plan. Not only are our benefits better than the public plan, but our plan is cheaper for the University than the least expensive public alternative.
The administration then caucused for a while and returned with a set of specific questions regarding information they think they need regarding our insurance plan before they can prepare a counter proposal. Our bargaining team agreed to inform the Trust of these data requests and the Trust will report back to the bargaining team of their findings. We ended the session with a little more discussion on non-economic proposals.
Here are the takeaways from this last session:
- Bafflingly, the administration remains convinced that they can spend less money on insurance contributions, and at the same time we can maintain or (magically!) improve our benefits package. This is total nonsense.We plan to demonstrate this as forcefully as possible with the help of the Trust.
- When UO says our insurance is excessive, either in terms of cost or benefits level, they are either actively lying or are inexcusably misinformed. Our insurance is not only excellent for members and their families, but it’s actually a great economic deal for the administration – we save them money every month relative to the cheapest public option!
- Some real progress was made on non-economics, especially regarding demands we’ve had from the beginning that the administration has refused to entertain seriously thus far, such as paid training.
- The next mediation is yet to be scheduled, but will likely occur within the next two weeks. Thank you to everyone who participated in Friday’s “Work-In”while our team was in negotiations. That support is felt at the table, and the only way we are going to win a great contract is if everyone commits to more and more of these actions.
- Share your thoughts about bargaining on social media. Use the hashtags #GradsRAISEUO, #UOworksbecausewedo, and #forwardnotbackward. You can follow us on Facebook (@GTFF3544), Instagram (@GTFF3544), and Twitter (@GTFF_3544).
Come to the next CAT meeting (Wednesday, 5/15 at 5:30pm) – this is the group who will be the real driving force behind a contract victory. All members should attend this meeting to help plan our next set of escalating actions!
President of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation