Today, the GTFF held a rally with campus and community allies, announcing that 95 percent of members – 1,044 graduate employees – voted in favor of strike authorization. Over 86 percent of the total membership took part in the vote, which allows our leadership to call for a strike if contract agreement is not reached.
“The huge turnout for the vote and massive number of graduate employees voting for strike authorization is an incredible demonstration of unity in the face of adversity that UO admin is putting us through,” said Rajeev Ravisankar, VP for External Relations. “Graduate employees have sent a resounding message to UO admin that we’re committed to one another and ready to strike if they don’t agree to a fair contract.”
GTFF members were joined today by UO students, staff and faculty, community members, union allies and political supporters, including Oregon House District 11 representative Marty Wilde and congressional candidate Doyle Canning. UO English instructor and United Academics faculty union steward Avinnash Tiwari questioned the UO admin’s commitment to diversity and equity and reiterated the faculty’s support for graduate employees. “As faculty at UO we stand with graduate employees. We faculty are here for you today and for as long as we need to be to get what you deserve.”
Congressional candidate Doyle Canning said that “While tuition goes up every year, health care for the lowest paid teaching employees gets slashed. This is an austerity agenda. This is balancing the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable, and I’m here to take a stand and fight back. Canning took UO admin to task, saying, “The university administration has dragged my husband and the rest of his union through 11 months of contract negotiations, and they still won’t back down from their cruel agenda to slash our family’s health care coverage.”
The rally coincided with a mediated negotiation session between GTFF and the University of Oregon administration, taking place with only two weeks remaining for UO administration to agree to a fair contract before the end of a mandatory 30-day cooling-off period.
Throughout 11 months of negotiations, UO administration has insisted on drastic changes to health care that would shift the cost burden of premium increases onto graduate employees. GTFF has made it abundantly clear that an agreement is not possible if the proposal will result in any reduction in health care coverage. The UO administration’s offer on wage adjustments for minimum salaries falls below 3 percent in the first two years of the contract, which does not allow the lowest-paid graduate employees to keep up with the rising cost of living, let alone with UO administration’s proposed increases in health care costs to GEs.
If you support graduate employees in our efforts to secure a fair contract, including a dignified wage and quality affordable health care, sign our online support petition.