Strike Update – Day 3

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While GTFs picketed around the University of Oregon campus, the GTFF bargaining team met in mediation with the University of Oregon Administration’s bargaining team. After 8 hours of work, the two teams called it a night, but planned to meet again in the morning.

Both parties agreed it’s important for the teams to collaborate in whatever ways might be possible without having mixed and conflicting messages ending up public and having to mend fences in the morning. The teams agreed to confidentiality for this round of mediation. We are still working through things at the moment and where ever we end up, we’ll be taking that to our Executive Council for discussion and for our stewards to take out to our members.

While the GTFF’s bargaining team worked away, the rest of the GTFF pushed forward with another strong day of striking. After the rally and march around campus on Wednesday night, the GTFF began to adopt marching and traveling into their growing skills of picketing. Marches took picket lines to new portions of campus that have yet to see the effects of the GTFF strike. Our picket locations have been developing their own identities  – creating their own games, jokes and chants. The bonding and growing relationships between members at each site is amazing. We will truly come out of this as a stronger, more connected union.

The GTFF lines were reinforced just as strongly today by community members as they have been throughout this week. We were joined by Councilor Claire Syrett. We were visited by recognized national union symbol Scabby the Rat. The GTFF military grew to include mechanized strike forces. Just as we’ve had the rest of the week, future union members joined their parents on the lines. Our furry friends and allies were also out in force today to brighten the spirits of GTFs who continue to turn out, day-after-day on the picket lines in support of a fair contract. Photos and videos of these supporters are here.

After opening up our online donation system yesterday, we’ve had thousands of dollars donated to our strike fund. In addition, the GTFF office was visited by Steen V. Mitchell, a UO Theatre Alumni, who donated $10,000 to the GTFF’s strike fund. Steen was proud to take her support public and shared this message with us:

I am making a contribution to the GTFF strike fund today to support the efforts of these dedicated working students to achieve their goal. I believe the administration should be ashamed to be willing to spend so generously to fight against these passionate teachers while not being willing to meet the GTFF’s reasonable request for paid sick and family leave. My contribution could have gone to the university or the UO scholarship fund I regularly support, but instead it is going to where I believe it will be most useful right now — the strike fund. Supporting the GTFF is about supporting education, supporting students and their families, supporting the future. I urge students, community members, faculty members, and administrators to take a stand with the GTFF.

We are incredibly grateful of the support of Steen. Thank you. The announcement of this donation to our picket lines lifted our members spirits. So many labor unions, organizations and individuals around the community have brought lunch, snacks and drinks out to our picket lines. All of this continues to remind our members that we are not alone, but have the support of a caring community. Thank you all so much for standing with the GTFF.

GTFF President, Joe Henry, traveled in GTF-ONE (part of the GTFF air force, the 3rd piece of quickly growing GTFF military) to DC this week. While there, he visited the office of Representative Peter DeFazio to discuss the situation at the University of Oregon.

Our allies at the both the national and state levels of the American Federation of Teachers have done outstanding work this week with the GTFF. Many projects are in the works, the first of which rolled out this afternoon as a MoveOn.org petition. This is available here.

The strike continues in the morning. Our bargaining team is excited to be out early in the morning to walk with our members on the picket lines. They feel cooped up after sitting in a conference room all day and look forward to stretching their legs. Mediation doesn’t being until 11am, giving them time to contribute everything they can on the lines in the morning, just as the rest of our members did all day today and have been doing all week. We will take the day on strong, supported by a favorable weather forecast, continued enthusiasm, and a drive to make the University of Oregon a better environment for everyone.