1. Raise the minimum wage
2. Eliminate fees for GTFs
3. Receipt of paychecks on time
While we did not achieve every contract improvement we set out to get, the team is very proud of the deal we have reached. You will be able to see all of the tentative agreements soon, but here are some highlights of what we achieved:
• Raises – We bargained a 2% raise to the minimum wage in September 2012 and a 1.5% raise in September of 2013. These raises are not large, as our focus was on reducing fees, but this should help make GTFs earnings competitive with the minimum wage earnings of our comparator universities.
• Fees – We successfully lowered fees from $140 per term to $61 per term. Also, fees for self-support courses required for degree completion will be covered by the UO. These fees had typically been more than $1000 per class.
o Additionally, we were (finally) able to eliminate the $75 per credit fees charged to Music GTFs. This is should save the roughly 75 Music GTFs about $675 per term.
• Timely Paychecks – Unfortunately, the university did not agree to our suggested introduction of a “$100 late pay remedy” for GTFs who completed their paperwork on time but for some reason were not paid in a timely manner. However, the university has promised further investigation and offers those graduate students who filed their paperwork on time (for Fall 2012, September 1st) to apply for the Jesse M. Bell Graduate Student loan. The university will wave the $8 application fee. The application can be found here. For further information about this loan, please contact the Graduate school directly.
• Health insurance – The deal we signed on health care is a bit complicated, but mostly very positive.
o Most importantly, while we ultimately agreed to sit on a committee to discuss the future of GTF health care, we fought back all proposals that would have significantly altered the way we run our health care plan.
o We added a new benefit, accomplishing our long-sought goal of having birth control covered at 100%, instead of as a prescription (70% coverage).
o Almost everyone will pay significantly less for health care next year. The deal we signed has the UO paying 95% of health care premium costs for individual GTFs, GTF partners, GTF children, and GTF families in the Fall, Winter, and Spring terms. GTFs will be responsible for paying for 5% of the premium costs in these terms.
o For the first time, however, GTFs will be responsible for paying a portion of their health care premiums. It will cost approximately $50 per term for an individual GTF to be on the plan. Our GTFF benefits administrator, Lisa Hamilton, is working on the best way to run the new system through the office, and we will have a system in place by mid-September.
o The new cost of health insurance for individual GTFs is more than offset by the reduction in fees. Moreover, there will be a significant reduction in the cost of health insurance for GTFs in the summer term.
• Job limits – Limits on the number of jobs a student can apply for have been
eliminated. This will mostly impact, and already has impacted, our brothers and
sisters in Education, who were limited to applying for only three GTF positions at
a time. This created hardship when they were not hired for their top choices, not
knowing which jobs remained available. This limitation is no longer in place, and
GTFs can apply for multiple positions at the same time.
• Office space – We brought attention to the fact that several GTF on campus work spaces were and continue to be in violation of the collective bargaining agreement, with many GTFs working under unsafe conditions. The university refused our proposal to establish a committee for investigating work space conditions. We demanded a yearly contribution of $100,000 for improvements. The university suggested that we should use the general grievance process to bring further deficiencies to their attention. If you are working under unsafe, unsanitary or inadequate conditions, please contact our grievance officer, Mara Williams (firstname.lastname@example.org), or our organizer, Amber Cooper
(email@example.com). The struggle continues.
-Judith Lechner, President, GTFF