Fall 2021 Demands for a Safe Campus
Updates from AY 2020-2021:
Public Statement by COVID Response Committee
GTFF October 2020 Message to all GEs
[expand title = “Know Your Rights” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
Lane County and the University of Oregon are now on high alert for COVID-19, with many infectious cases coming from the UO community. GEs working on-campus are particularly affected by this, although all GEs should know your rights.
Our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) protects us from unsafe working conditions. If you feel unsafe at any point during the term, take the following steps:
- Notify your supervisor. Your supervisor is the first point of contact for all health & safety concerns in the workplace.
- Ask about remote positions. Contact your department head, or another person in your department responsible for GE appointments, to ask about remote positions.
- Contact your department steward. If you feel uncomfortable contacting your supervisor, department head, or any other administrator, reach out to your department steward for help. Stewards have a legally protected right to inquire with administrators on behalf of GEs. They are here to help you.
- Contact the GTFF. Get in touch with Courtney Tabor, VP for Grievances, at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible if you are concerned about a contract violation. This includes (but is not limited to) if you requested a remote position but were assigned an in-person position.
- Use your accrued sick leave. According to the CBA (Article 25), we receive three paid sick days per term. Incoming GEs are awarded one sick day at the start of the contract. Our Letter of Agreement with the administration concerning COVID-19 also entitles us to two weeks of emergency leave to be used before accrued time. Additionally, sick leave may be used as “safe leave” if you feel you are being bullied or harassed (for example, if a supervisor is demanding you violate PPE rules).
- Leave your work area. According to the CBA (Article 10 Section 2d): “If, after reporting to the supervisor that a specific task or assignment may jeopardize personal health or safety, correction is not made, that employee may refuse to perform such activity without penalty until the appropriate health or safety officer has reviewed the situation and made a finding.”
- Invoke your Weingarten Rights. If you are in a meeting with members of management/administration that you believe may result in disciplinary action, you have a right to union representation. State that you are invoking your Weingarten Rights and the meeting cannot continue until you are adequately represented.
Our insurance provider, Regence, is covering many of the expenses linked to COVID-19. For more information, visit their website or contact Glenn Morris, GTFF Benefits Administrator, at email@example.com. Additionally, the UO Health Center is providing symptom-free COVID-19 testing for enrolled students. To schedule a test, call (541) 346-2770.
In any situation, please notify the GTFF. With specifics on how your workplace is unsafe, we can bring the issue to the university administration’s immediate attention and can anonymize identifying information upon request. These can be brought to your department or lead stewards, or directly to Courtney Tabor (VP for Grievances, firstname.lastname@example.org), Rajeev Ravisankar (President, email@example.com), or Michael Marchman (Staff Organizer, firstname.lastname@example.org).
GTFF August 2020 Covid Update for GEs
[expand title = “Message from GTFF Covid Response Committee” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
The University of Oregon administration has finally made its long-awaited decision about campus reopening and has opted for primarily remote instruction for fall term. The decision is not surprising for those who have followed UO admin’s Covid response to date and have seen the severe problems that other universities experienced after attempting in-person reopening. Ultimately, the decision is the right one. However, the question of why UO admin waited so long to make it remains unanswered. As we have highlighted repeatedly in meetings with administration, maintaining an in-person posture for fall term during the past several months has sent a signal to students and other university constituents that they should be making plans for returning or moving to Eugene, despite the major threats to community safety that this poses.
Though the move to remote education for fall term gives a sense of relief in terms of the health and safety of graduate employees, students, and campus workers, it is crucial to recognize that some GEs, classified staff, and officers of administration (OAs) are already on campus and are facing immediate health and safety issues that UO admin has neglected because they have focused so much of their attention and energy on planning for a in-person return in fall. GEs currently working in labs, in particular, are dealing with unsafe conditions given uneven compliance with specific lab safety plans, lack of quarantine requirements when they or others return after travel, the failure of UO to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), and the failure to enforce masking and other safety protocols.
Heading into fall, UO libraries, the Rec Center, and Erb Memorial Union are expected to be open with modifications and safety measures, and on-campus housing and dining facilities will also be operational. Department buildings will also be accessible for faculty and graduate employees, among others. This level of operations, while much lower than in normal circumstances, points to the need for effective implementation of health and safety protocols that require further detail and clarity.
Another term of remote education will likely have a major financial impact on the university, which could be felt the most by those in precarious positions such as classified staff, career faculty, and lower-level OAs. To mitigate the prospect of cuts that would disproportionately affect these workers as well as essential UO programs and services like the Labor Education and Research Center, GTFF is insisting that graduate employees, classified staff, and OAs be included in university financial planning through the UO’s Covid task force.
The extension of remote education for fall term has many implications for graduate employees and other university constituents. Below are several key points of information directly related to GE circumstances.
[expand title = “Important Information” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
- As many GEs have already experienced, remote work can pose significant logistical and work-related challenges that can lead to going over hours. Make sure to track your hours and to raise concerns about overwork to your supervisor and department steward. Here is a link to download a GE Hours Tracking Excel sheet to help you track hours, or you can use the online time-tracking program Clockify. We also highly recommend filling out a Workload Allocation Form with your supervisor at the very beginning of term.
- We expect that GEs will have access to their department buildings and office spaces. An online form will likely be made available for those who need to reserve a room or space to complete GE work. Those who plan to use shared GE offices are required to wear masks, maintain 6 feet of distance, and follow other UO protocols.
- In addition to standard accrued sick leave benefits (see GTFF Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), Article 29), GEs are entitled to an additional two weeks of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (see UO/GTFF Letter of Agreement). Emergency Paid Sick Leave should be used before using standard (contractual) paid sick leave so as to maintain your standard leave for future use when the Emergency Paid Sick Leave expires. Emergency paid sick leave can be used to care for sick or isolated family members as well as for childcare during school or daycare closures due to Covid.
- Incoming international graduate students who are unable to obtain a visa or to travel to the US can still enroll in classes through the NoVisaNeeded program. Incoming international students who are present in the country will have to enroll in an in-person class even if they are not physically present in that class for every in-person meeting. They should be able to participate remotely in these in-person classes, but these courses are listed in the course schedule with both remote and in-person components.
- International GEs who remain outside the country should receive appropriate accommodations from their departments. Departments are expected to make sure that these International GEs can perform all their assignments remotely and in accordance with different time zones and other realities of being abroad. International Student and Scholar Services and Human Resources representatives have confirmed that departments are obligated to make these accommodations and alternative working conditions available to their International GEs. Lack of compliance with these responsibilities should be reported to Employee and Labor Relations (email@example.com) and supervising departments.
- Admin has mentioned that they are looking into low-cost or free wireless internet services to assist with remote work circumstances. This is the current list of low-cost and free Internet options, and here is a link to the loaner laptop program for students.
- GEs who need accommodations and ergonomic improvements for remote workspaces should continue to make requests through the ADA Coordinator (workplaceADA@uoregon.edu) and through Occupational Health and Safety Services. These requests cannot be denied at the department level and have to go through Human Resources. It is unclear how the university will handle these requests, but we intend to work with the GTFF Disability Access Caucus (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get more information and clarity and to do everything we can to ensure that all GEs have what they need to work from home.
[expand title = “Action Items” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
Although UO will be primarily remote for fall term, we truly need everyone to be engaged and actively involved in our union at this time. Being able to collectively mobilize in creative, effective, and sometimes rapid ways will be crucial as we continue to strive for the safest possible conditions for GEs, campus workers, and students. Here are several action items initiated by our union and avenues for you to get involved:
- GTFF has filed a Step 3 Grievance in response to unsafe working conditions experienced in summer term. The grievance requests UO to fulfill its obligations to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and paid training for all campus workers about safety protocols, enforcement procedures, and the right to a safe workplace. It also calls for weekly voluntary testing for all students and workers, including the availability of asymptomatic testing, enforcement of face covering protocols, and communication about positive Covid-19 cases that alert students about affected locations on campus.
- The GTFF Covid Response Committee has been meeting throughout the summer to identify immediate health and safety issues, anticipate challenges for fall term, and to foster engagement among members around the pandemic. The Committee planned a series of open assemblies during the summer and will continue to coordinate and gather information. To learn more or to join the Committee, email COVID_Response@gtff.net.
- GEs working in labs have already started organizing around health and safety concerns they are experiencing on campus. To get involved in these organizing efforts and other mobilizations, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- “Impact bargaining” with UO admin over changes in UO policies and practices affecting GE working conditions or otherwise impacting our contract (CBA) will likely be necessary in the near future. This process will likely involve the drafting of and negotiating over Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and/or Letters of Agreement (LOAs) that will supplement or replace current contract language to ensure protections for GEs and prevent UO admin from making unilateral changes to GE pay, benefits, and/or working conditions. This effort may require the formation of a small team that can dedicate time to developing these MOUs. If you are interested in taking part, reach out to email@example.com.
The decision to have remote education only applies to fall term, which means that we will need to follow up about the timeline and process for UO admin’s decision-making about winter and spring terms. GTFF expects and will demand to be directly involved in UO decision-making regarding the rest of the academic year. If you have questions or concerns heading into fall term, contact your department stewards or reach out to the GTFF Covid Response Committee. [If your department has not yet held steward elections for next year, please contact your current (last year’s) stewards and/or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make plans to do so ASAP.]
As we navigate the next term, remember that you are not alone. Our union has been advocating for graduate employee health and safety at every turn since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have pushed for greater transparency in decision-making and accessibility of PPE and sanitizing and cleaning supplies, while also cautioning against harsh enforcement measures that could target students or workers. The best way to ensure health and safety is to have each other’s backs, to respond collectively, and to continue to coordinate with our union cousins and student allies on campus.
In the next few weeks, nearly 400 new GEs will arrive (in-person or remotely) at UO! We need to make sure we welcome them, talk with them about the issues discussed above, help them to settle in and make social connections, and encourage them to join and get involved in the GTFF. Be sure to talk to your colleagues about all of these issues and of the importance of maintaining a strong union in this complex, difficult, and uncertain time. Our union is our best defense in these moments.
GTFF Spring 2020 Update for GEs
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- If you’re working remotely in any capacity, you are working. There is no need to use sick leave.
- You are protected by our contract to refuse to work in unsafe conditions.
- If you are unable to work, you can use your sick days. The GTFF is pushing for longer-term solutions.
- Look to departments for discipline-specific pedagogy questions.
- You are under no obligation to go over your FTE hours. Track your hours!
- The GTFF office will be closed, but emails will be answered (as possible) during business hours.
- The GTFF Coronavirus webpage will be updated as we get more information and can offer guidance.
[expand title = “Message from E-board” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
Leaders in the GTFF are working tirelessly to ensure that members get correct information quickly. As a labor union, our concerns are of course the working conditions and future provisions made by the university as the COVID-19 response continues to unfold. Just as important to us, however, is that the GTFF remains a space for connection, communication, solidarity, and collective action. While we’re social distancing, we’ll continue to create and maintain a community of support among grad workers.
We are the union and the union is all of us. During our remote instruction time, we want to make virtual space for frustration, resistance, solidarity and hope. Just because our office is temporarily closed doesn’t mean our hearts are!
You can expect to see weekly email updates from us (more frequent in the case of significant changes). Other and intervening information and resources will be available on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), and updated here regularly.
[expand title = “Letter of Agreement re: COVID-19 changes” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
We have reached a deal on a Letter of Agreement with UO that extends relevant GE rights and benefits for our current situation. There are many more things to work on, but check out a summary of the Agreement below, which seeks to fix some immediate concerns.
Paid Sick Leave
UO is providing all employees an additional two weeks worth of paid emergency sick leave. GEs can (should) be using this leave prior to utilizing “normal” accrued sick leave.
The Grad School is accepting petitions for a reduction in the credit requirement. If this is something you need, here are instructions for petitioning/requesting.
UO has created and all grads have access to a new crisis fund (application on the Dean of Students website). A proportional part of that fund is allocated specifically for grads. UO is anticipating about $150,000 in emergency funds to be available for grads.
There is also the Graduate Student Assistance Fund, available for all grad students, for coverage of medical expenses. The Grad Assistance, which is a part of the GTFF collective bargaining agreement, also has about $150,000 in it.
Workplace Health and Safety
This letter of agreement provides stronger language around health and safety, including the right of GEs to refuse to work if you cannot adhere to social distancing protocols while accessing campus.
Timelines for GDRS change proposals and GE feedback have been pushed back as well.
Questions? Contact Rajeev or Courtney!
[expand title = “Message from Glenn” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
The office will be closed starting Thursday, March 12. I will be working from home. I’d guess 95% of you would not even realize this!
I’ll be checking my emails and having the phones forwarded 9 AM to 4 PM, so as far as you’ll know; it’s business as usual. I just won’t be available for in-person meetings. In the event I become sick, the Union has set up contingency plans to ensure insurance services will be maintained.
INSURANCE AND THE COVID-19
Here’s Regence’s update on coronavirus, and information about a new telemedicine service, “Ask a Doctor”.
ASK A DOCTOR
Word of COVID-19 has many people nervous and access to care is important for people. One of the ways in which Regence is offering more convenient ways to access care is through Ask a Doctor.
Ask a Doctor is built into your benefits plan at no additional cost. It’s essentially another provider, except it’s 100% virtual. Members now have the ability to text with a doctor at their convenience, which means you can start a conversation, step into a class and pick the conversation up where you started – it’s totally at your convenience.
For your plan, the virtual visit is only $5, which is much less than urgent care. Here are some perks:
- Access to these doctors is 24/7
- Cost is only $5 for the visit
- Text a doctor at your convenience – it’s like texting with a friend!
- They can prescribe and diagnose conditions
- Any drugs prescribed would fall to normal benefits deductible/coins
- To use this service, all members need to do is download the Ask a Doctor app, register and off they go!
Ask a Doctor Registration Training Guide
[expand title = “GTFF Office Closure” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
The GTFF office will be closed starting March 12. We hope to reopen the office as soon as possible, but we are being vigilant and proactive about the risks of keeping the office open at this time and will keep everyone updated regarding when the office will reopen.
Operations will continue remotely/online as much as possible during this time. Questions and concerns about insurance should be addressed to Glenn at email@example.com. Other questions can be addressed to Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[expand title = “Sick Leave Information” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
If needed for quarantine or self-isolation, you can absolutely make use of your paid sick leave. Per our contract, we accrue 3 days of sick leave per term to a maximum of 10 sick days. The specifics of this policy are available on HR’s website.
You can check your accrued sick leave balance on Duckweb, under the Employee Information tab link called “Leave Balances.” Per the Letter of Agreement that modifies some aspects of our contract in response to COVID, GEs can also access two more weeks of paid sick leave to GEs (in accordance with the CARES Act). Additionally, we have strengthened language about the right of GEs to refuse to work in unsafe spaces (see below, research positions and remote work) and to modify the use of graduate assistance fund for medical issues.
[expand title = “Remote Instruction & Hour Tracking” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
Check your emails! We’ll be doing our best to keep everyone updated. Stay informed as much as possible, and take care of your health.
Emergency remote instruction is the university’s stopgap measure, not a permanent solution or shift to online pedagogy. We should all strive to do our best without being exploited. You cannot be asked to work over your hours, and the university has noted that instructors should do their best within their capacity. If possible, be in contact with your supervisor about the situation.
If you have been asked by your supervisor to come to campus or perform other activities that contradict UO protocols, email your supervisor and copy Alexis Kiessling, VP for Grievances. If you are immunocompromised or at high risk of contracting COVID-19, your supervisor cannot make you come onto campus – per Article 10, Section 2 of our contract and our new letter of agreement, you may refuse to work in any unsafe space.
Looking for further resources/need help with remote teaching strategies? The Chronicle for Higher Ed is forming a Facebook group for educators. For UO-focused resources, check out TEP’s blog and Request Help sidebar option. The TEP blog also has a GE-specific set of resources, intentionally geared toward discussion sections and labs. The Provost’s Office has also put together a description of the plan and some resources.
As we undertake remote instruction, we should all remember to track our hours—no one is obligated to work more than their FTE, no matter the changes the UO is asking. Here are some suggestions for some handy apps that allow you to organize your tracked time: Clockify, Toggl.
[expand title = “Research Positions & Remote Work” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
Please refer to the university’s guidelines about research and critical activity, as well as expectations for university operations/access during this time. Note that, per UO admin, critical research activities include:
- Activities required to maintain lab safety, such as maintaining gas supply and checking on equipment that cannot be safely powered off for extended periods of time, as well as care for animals, plants, and other living organisms
- Research related to COVID-19
- Research activities where delaying or canceling research activity would result in unrecoverable loss of a faculty member’s long-term research trajectory
If you have been asked by your supervisor to come to campus or perform other activities that contradict UO protocols, email your supervisor and copy Alexis Kiessling (VP for Grievances). If you are immunocompromised or at high risk of contracting Coronavirus, your supervisor cannot make you come onto campus – per Article 10, Section 2 of our contract, you may refuse to work in any unsafe space, and as noted above, this protection will be further clarified by our new letter of agreement.
[expand title = “UO Hiring Freeze Information” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
You may have heard by now about the university’s hiring freeze, which was instituted March 19 and puts a hold on hiring any new employees at the university indefinitely.
All grad students who had a GE position sometime in AY19-20 are eligible for a GE position next year without an exception. This includes GEs who would have had an IP/SA (Institutional Priority/Strategic Alliance) position, but you won’t be able to get that particular position (see IP/SA cuts information below).
Currently, all centrally-funded GE positions will be available next year, and departments are expected to fill these positions with current GEs and incoming grads who were promised funding for next year before the hiring freeze was put into place. GE positions funded by grants or extramural funding will also be able to proceed as planned. Funding offers for new, incoming grad students will be honored if made and accepted by April 15. No new offers or hires will be made after that date for Fall 2020.
These positions are significant improvements over where UO admin’s hiring freeze began. Initially, they were going to require departments to request exemptions for many GE positions. We were concerned that many would be denied, resulting in significantly fewer GE positions being available next year. We advocated fiercely that UO has a moral and civic responsibility to keep as many people on payroll as possible. These revised guidelines should mean fewer lost GE positions than initially proposed.
IP/SA Position Cuts
The Graduate School has canceled all 51 IP/SA (Institutional Priority/Strategic Alliance) Administrative GE positions for Fall. That leaves about 50 non-IPSA Admin GE positions on the books for the moment.
We are pressing the Admin to reconsider these cuts, but they remain adamant about cutting the IPSA positions for next year. It is possible – but not likely – that some of these positions could be reinstated. We are also pushing admin to connect people who lost IP/SA position related funding to help them get funding elsewhere.
[expand title = “Resources/Info for International GEs” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
We continue to press the university (and our departments, individually) on resources directed toward assisting international GEs in this unpredictable and precarious time. While they have yet to respond to our questions about support that will be provided by the university, our parent union AFT has released these FAQs about international students and workers’ rights and position in higher education’s current environment. There’s also this detailed guide addressing eligibility for CARES Act benefits.
GTFF Mutual Aid Hardship Fund: As of Summer 2020, we’ve voted to start a Mutual Aid Hardship Fund run by GEs for GEs, specifically to help address the inequities between domestic GEs that can work off-campus and international GEs who are legally prohibited from doing so. Please apply by June 25th, and check out more information on the Mutual Aid Hardship Fund page, also accessible from the Member Resources drop-down menu.
Notes on the $1200 stimulus check: The CARES Act refers to nonresident alien individual, which is defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rather than by immigration statute. The IRS states that a non-U.S. citizen is considered a nonresident alien unless he or she meets one of two tests: the green card test or the substantial presence test. There are special rules for calculating substantial presence for F-1s, which can be summarized by saying that F-1s are exempt if they’ve been here for less than 5 years but may meet the test if they have been here longer. Here are some examples of application of the rules.
International GE working overseas? The UO has said that they are “maintaining status quo for GEs working overseas – which means they should perform their duties as they otherwise would and will get paid as they otherwise would.” If anything changes about this situation, we will update you as soon as possible.
We have established in our budget a Mutual Aid/Hardship Fund targeted toward supporting international GEs over the summer. Applications for this fund are expected to go live in mid-June: keep an eye out!
[expand title = “Summer 2020” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
Summer instruction will take place remotely. Some departments have made moves to assure more GE positions and other, non-GE-position funding for students over the summer. Please contact your department steward for specifics.
[expand title = “Fall 2020 & Reopening” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
Employee Safety Committee
GTFF, as well as the other campus unions and employee groups, have demanded to be involved in policy development and decision-making around UO’s response to the COVID pandemic and plans for moving forward. So far, the university has not made our participation a priority. We have been invited to sit on a committee advising on the development of reopening plans. Missy Matella proposed a committee to include one representative from each employee group including GTFF, UA (faculty), SEIU (staff), OA Council, and UO Police Association, alongside representatives from HR and other administrators. The offer was for a one-hour meeting every other week, with an “update” from administration and 30 minutes for questions and input.
All three large campus unions agree this does not remotely constitute real participation in decision-making. In fact, it is insulting and we have made our assessments clear to the Administration.
UAUO, SEIU and GTFF are collaboratively demanding two-hour, weekly meetings with at least two representatives from our respective unions. We’ve also made it clear to the administration that a failure to meaningfully include the unions in UO planning will result in the unions all demanding to bargain over any plans or policies that would affect working conditions, including health and safety. Campus workers are being sidelined in reopening plans that directly affect our working conditions, but we are determined to make our voices and the needs of all our members heard.
University Task Force on Reopening
The university is also forming a task force of 15 faculty members, department heads, and directors that answers to the university senate. The university has opened ONE position for a student. There is presently no indication or intention to include the GTFF in this task force, nor any indication that both graduate and undergraduate representation will be sought. Even if a graduate student were to be chosen, that student is expected to stand alone against 15 high ranking employees and senate members in order to represent all students on campus.
Missy Matella has attempted to reassure us that this confidential body will only brainstorm ideas and that no decision will be made by them before running it by the unions. We pushed back, demanding that we be able to represent ourselves and our interests in all university reopening planning bodies. As of now, we are still fighting this.
[expand title = “Will this affect my health insurance” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
At the moment, no. We are working to make sure health care coverage continues uninterrupted. We’re speaking consistently with HR and other unions on campus to figure out what might happen and how we can be prepared for future developments to have the smallest possible impact on GEs and other employees.
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The Grad School has issued several policy changes (via email), including one allowing for academic timelines to be extended by up to a year as needed.
[expand title = “Funding Extensions” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
Thank you to all of you who added your voices to the #universal1yr funding extension demand we put to the university administration on Monday, May 25. Administration responded at the labor-management meeting and in a follow-up email (on June 1) from Kate Mondloch by saying that universal funding extensions are “not viable” and will not happen. However, they are willing to create special exceptions for “particularly egregious” examples of graduate students who cannot complete their degree. In other words, once again, the burden of proof is on us as graduate employees to prove that the effects of this pandemic have impeded degree progress, and that this effect is egregious “enough.” We do not yet know by what specific criteria they intend to judge severity.
We made clear that this is not acceptable and that all GEs have been affected by the pandemic and need the security of an additional year of funding, if necessary. Kate Mondloch asked us if we knew how many GEs have had their progress slowed. We said “virtually all of them, of course.” We pointed out the double-standard of extending the tenure clock for non-tenure-track faculty in light of research delays while not doing the same for GEs. We also pointed out the hollowness of the administration’s claims to be broke when at the start of the pandemic, the Board of Trustees authorized spending $12 million dollars on the “largest fucking jumbotron in the country.” Missy Matella announced that extending funding is under the purview of the Grad School and not an issue for GTFF to bargain with UO over. It is clear that we will not secure extended funding for GEs by appealing to the good will of the Admin.
The Graduate School encourages grad students to apply for CARES Act funds and the Students In Crisis Fund to help with need and expenses. This does not address the substance of our demand, especially the needs of our international colleagues who cannot access CARES Act funding. We are pressuring the university to step up and finding ways to support our international colleagues ourselves. However, we do encourage eligible members to apply for these funds. Current reports are that sizable requests for funding through these sources are being met. We will need to continue to build pressure to get administration do much more to support grads.
[expand title = “GTFF Meeting with UO Admin (03/20/20)” trigclass = “noarrow” tag = “h4”]
GTFF leadership was invited on Friday March 20 to meet with UO administration including President Michael Schill, Provost Patrick Philips, Vice President of Finance Jamie Moffitt, and Missy Matella, Senior Director of Employee Affairs. We took this opportunity to put forth this list of priorities pertaining to the university’s COVID-19 response, including demands that the University should prioritize all employees, students, and community members affected by this emergency.
While they did not respond directly to all of the priorities put before them, they did note that we share many of the same goals in this situation, enumerating their own priorities as 1) the health and welfare of our community, 2) the continuity of UO’s educational process, and 3) the economic viability of the university. The university indicated that there’s currently no expectation that GEs’ employment will shift drastically, including loss of pay, benefits or layoffs, this spring or next year. They are continuing to gauge what spring tuition revenue looks like.
In this meeting, we spoke frankly and directly to Schill and the other administrators about the UO’s civic and moral obligation to do everything in its power to prioritize protecting the physical, mental, and financial well-being of its students and lowest-paid workers. We as the GTFF intend to be a problem-solver in this moment, but we will doubtless feel the need to reiterate our priorities going forward. We want to work as closely as we can with UO to accomplish things that represent the best interests of our community, within the GTFF and more broadly. We are committed to solving critical problems, and our goal in this meeting was to communicate what we see those problems and potential solutions to be.