Letter from the President:
At the previous bargaining session, we had some contentious talk about economics. We are still in the process of counterproposing, and there are some issues that both sides will dig into in the coming weeks. However, we have made some progress on some non-economic articles. Read below for details.
First, the things we agreed on:
- UO should not collect information related to DACA recipients.
- We both want more informal grievance options, and GTFF’s Bargaining Committee is looking into the university’s proposal.
- There is interest in a disability access subcommittee consisting of members of both bargaining teams.
Of course, if we agreed on everything, there wouldn’t be a need to bargain!UO’s bargaining team argued against our proposal adding an optional 6 hours of paid training as part of GEs’ professional development. Their arguments included
- Money is not an incentive for training
- Trainings should be self-motivated
- Six hours is not enough time for proper training
They also disagreed with our proposals requiring GEs to have representation on appointment and curriculum committees, instead preferring the status quo (allowing GEs on these committees, but leaving it optional for each department). Being on these committees would ensure fairness in the appointment process and provide an opportunity for professional development. There also seemed to be some disagreement on whether GE work is considered “professional” and whether professional development of GEs is warranted.
In response to our proposal to increase the number of GEs acting in support roles for graduate students from underrepresented communities, the university suggested that the Graduate School create a website with resources related to these communities. This would be a great first step, but not necessarily a satisfactory substitute. Various problems were discussed regarding this idea, one of which being that such a website should not be limited to resources within the university, but should include those from the surrounding community, as well.
GTFF’s Bargaining Committee gave some allowance to UO regarding dues deduction changes but reasserted the union’s lawful authority to changes its own dues structure as needed.
We also reasserted earlier language regarding GDRS (General Duties and Responsibilities Statements). While UO’s team proposed allowing departments the ability to change a position’s GDRS each term, we reiterated that such an option is unreasonable for GEs, especially those who are new. The Bargaining Committee did, however, concede to including both the amount of time and percentage of time a GE’s tasks would take in the position’s workload allocation form.
GTFF argued again for including information about (and examples of) workplace bullying in the CBA. While the university does have resources throughout its various websites on the matter, having this information in the CBA will make it much easier for GEs (especially those under the stress of workplace bullying) to find and therefore easier to such situations.
In the previous bargaining session, GTFF’s Bargaining Committee inquired about the university’s lack of meaningful response to our rejection of their economic proposals. At this session, we finally heard back about two — housing and funding for international GEs’ flights home — which UO does not consider to be topics to be bargained over. The university also rejected our summer funding proposal on the basis of cost.
One economic aspect we continue to fight for is our health insurance. UO claims that their proposal would allow them to cover “100% of our health insurance…but with different health insurance”. Our insurance coverage is the best on campus and is something we have fought for over our forty years as a union! We will not allow the university to slash away at benefits that are important to so many of our members.
We are still seeking testimonies from GEs on topics including health insurance, affordable housing, and experiences as a GE with a family and/or as an international GE. If you would be willing to sit at the bargaining table and speak to these issues, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign up to submit written testimonials or video recordings to Kayleigh Peterman at email@example.com.
We’ve had a good turn-out at each of the bargaining sessions, but as we get more into the economic matters, it’s important that we show up and send a message to the university: that we are strong, we are united, and we believe in the good that collective action through bargaining can accomplish.
Come to the next bargaining session:
221 McKenzie Hall
Note: The following session will be held on Thursday, 3/21 (more details to come).
If you can’t attend in person, tune in to our livestream and show your support on social media by tagging your posts with #GradsRAISEUO and #GTFF3544.
Let’s show the university how much our proposals mean to us!
We are making progress, but bargaining does take time. We talked a lot about non-economic topics and delved into some economic ones. We will be pushing the university on the latter issues at the next bargaining session, so make sure you’re there to hear what they have to say!
President of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation