4th Bargaining Session Recap

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Letter from the President:

Last Friday, we heard UO’s final non-economic proposals, and your Bargaining Committee had the opportunity to respond to UO’s economic proposals to the GTFF. This economic package, which attempted to put the label “pay raise” on a net loss for GEs, seemed a clear indication that our priorities were not shared by the University, who appear more interested in maintaining the status quo than seeking to improve GE working and living conditions.

Among the specific concerns (raised by you, the membership!) the GTFF expressed about the University’s economic package were:

  • Reductions to health insurance support
  • Increases to student fees
  • Net financial loss to GEs
  • True living wage (as opposed to a number on a check)
  • Areas addressed in GTFF’s proposals where UO’s proposals gave no response
    • Children and Families
    • Housing
    • Summer Needs

We gave the following statement in response to their economic proposals:

“We discussed the University’s economic proposal among ourselves and with the membership, and the reaction was universal: the notion that taking money away from hard-earned benefits like health insurance and calling it a “raise’ and living wage is, quite frankly, disappointing and frustrating. We came into these negotiations with the expectation of reaching an agreement that would improve the working conditions and lives of 1500 graduate employees, with a specific emphasis on those most marginalized folks like families, and gender, sexual, and racial minorities. The University’s proposal indicates that, at best, the administration merely wants to maintain the status quo by moving money around in a shell game, and to introduce a compensation structure with the direct consequence of eroding the benefits GEs have fought for over decades; erosions which will hit marginalized groups the hardest.

“As a result of the specific problems we have with the economic package on its own terms as a financial loss and reduction of benefits for GEs, our fundamental disagreements over the nature of a living-wage and our desire to see improvements rather than simply maintain the status quo, and the ultimate failure of the University’s economic proposal to seriously address the needs of our members as expressed in our opening proposals, we simply cannot seriously entertain the proposed structure of the University’s package.

“We are willing, and in fact looking forward to, reaching an agreement that satisfies both parties and achieves real improvements for GEs, but the proposed structure of merely moving money around all the while slashing benefits is not a system we are interested or willing to pursue. It is, in short, a path that cannot lead to an agreement.

“While we have no interest in pursuing the University’s economic proposal, we found much of the University’s non-economic proposals quite reasonable and are prepared to work toward agreements that can solve many of the problems you’ve identified.”


In the final non-economic proposals presented by the University, they proposed some changes to grievance policies.

  • Reshape the process into a three-step structure
    • Informal mediation stage
    • Formal written grievance to president’s designee and hearing
    • Arbitration
  • Reframe ability of union representatives to join GEs in conversations with supervisors.
This is an important set of proposals that the Bargaining Committee will continue to address with UO’s representatives in our next bargaining session. Our grievance process is key to maintaining GE dignity in the workplace, and we will work to ensure it serves all GEs in whatever situations may arise.

A summary of bargaining thus far

The Bargaining Committee and the GTFF remain committed to negotiating with UO in good faith, and in the interest of doing so we have tentatively agreed on one article regarding personnel files, and believe we are close to tentative agreement on other non-economic proposals. Remember, nothing is final until the general membership (that’s you) votes on it, so stay informed and keep reading these updates!

Stand with your bargaining team at the next bargaining session:

Friday, 2/15
11AM – 3PM
229 McKenzie Hall

If you can’t be there in person, tune in to our livestream (twitch.tv/gtff3544) and show your support on social media by tagging your posts with #GradsRAISEUO and #GTFF3544. Let’s show up and show that we are united!


TL;DR:

The GTFF responded to UO’s economic proposals with a clear “no thank you,” tentatively agreed on one article in good faith and look forward to responding to UO’s proposed changes to the grievance process. The Bargaining Committee remains committed to the principles of our RAISE platform and aim to improve conditions for all GEs!


In Solidarity,

Mike Magee
President of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation