President’s Statement on Agreement

The GTFF’s bargaining team has spent 22 hours straight in mediation with the Administration’s bargaining team over the past 2 days. Early Wednesday morning the teams tentatively agreed to all language for a new collective bargaining agreement. The agreement will need to be voted on for ratification by the GTFF membership to officially take effect.

As part of the agreement, the teams agreed to a return to work plan for GTFs to continue their work starting Wednesday morning. GTFs with exams scheduled on Wednesday or beyond should give their exams. Replacement workers may still show up, but have been instructed to defer to GTFs.

As part of the settlement to end the strike, the Administration will not cut the wages or benefits of GTFs who were on strike.

The agreement includes 5% increases to pay minima for this year—retroactive to September 15—and next year.

The teams worked many long hours to work out the details of a Graduate Hardship Fund that will help make some improvement in closing the gap in the cost of living for many of our members. The Fund will allow grants for $1000 for medical hardship and $1500 for new child accommodation. While the GTFF only bargains for those in our unit, we interpreted the fund as an exciting opportunity to provide this benefit to help all graduate students. The size of the Fund is directly proportional to the number of enrolled graduate students ($50 per student; i.e., $150,000 for this year) with up to 1/3 of the starting fund amount rolling over between years. The cap per student and the rollover is meant to keep up with the increase in the pool of grad students as well as high risk years.

The GTFF pushed for strong CBA language to protect our members. The collective bargaining agreement contains language controlling the size of the fund, and a guarantee that the fund is defined by an agreement between the University president, Dean of the Graduate School and a new Graduate Student Assistance Fund Committee. This committee is made up of an appointee of the president, an appointee of the dean, a faculty member appointed by the University Senate’s Graduate Council, and 4 graduate students – two appointed by the GTFF and two who are elected by the graduate student body. This oversight committee holds equal say with the President and Graduate School Dean in overseeing the processes that runs the fund. They must all agree to any modifications to how the fund operates.

Importantly, unreasonable denials of access to the fund for GTFs are grieveable through our collective bargaining agreement. That is, if you are unreasonably denied access to the fund, the GTFF can challenge the denial and call upon a 3rd party arbitrator (not a representative from the UO or the GTFF) if needed to correct violations to the CBA.

As I have previously noted, this is not paid leave. This plan does alleviate the financial challenges that come from being seriously ill or injured, or from adding a new child to your family. This also relieves the burden felt by many of our most vulnerable members to make up the time at a later, unspecified date. Effectively, grads who experience family or medical issues will be able to receive the funds they need for missed work.

Words cannot express how indebted this bargaining team and e-board are for all the hard work our members have done over the past week. Your commitment to working for everyone’s mutual benefit has been truly inspiring. You came out in the cold, in the rain, and in the early morning before the sun came up. While the GTFF leadership was held at table bargaining, we were proud to see so many new GTFs step up quickly into leadership positions during the strike. We could not have done this without you–all of you.

Thursday the executive-council met to discuss the agreement and plan for a ratification vote. There will a General Membership Meeting on Friday, at South Eugene High School at 5pm, for members to hear about the agreement, ask questions and discuss it. The ratification vote will be held by ballot box starting Friday night at the GMM and extending through next Thursday in our office. Members can also contact about absentee ballots. More information on the TA’d agreement is available here.

In Solidarity,

Joe Henry