Bargaining FAQ (2023-24)

Red and black banner with black and white text that reads "GEs Deserve Dignity." The logo at right of the banner shows a red star overlaid with black text reading "GTFF 3544" and encircled by text reading "Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation Collective Bargaining."

The contract bargaining cycle is incredibly long and complex, so it’s understandable to feel confused or lose track of what’s going on. This FAQ is our attempt to concisely lay out the most common questions and important information for our members. If your question is not featured on this page, please submit it on this form and the Bargaining Team will do its best to either add it to this list and/or include a response in our next email. 

What is bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the process by which we negotiate the terms of our employment directly with the university. We, as the GTFF, negotiate on behalf of all GEs at the UO, and we meet directly with the UO administration to hash out what our wages, benefits, and working conditions are. Our current contract expires June 15, 2023, so it’s time to fight for what we need in our next contract!

What’s happened so far?

Our bargaining team began assembling in spring of 2022. Since then, the team has been developing proposed changes to our contract based on the responses to our summer/fall bargaining survey, the bargaining team’s detailed research about living and working conditions in the Eugene/Springfield area, and all of our conversations at e-councils, GMMs, town halls, and more.

Our first meeting with UO to establish ground rules was Monday, February 27, and our first negotiation session was on Friday, March 17. As we continue to exchange proposals with the UO team, you can follow along with detailed proposals on our Trello board and get the latest updates from our bargaining blog.

What are we asking for? 

GTFF’s platform for this bargaining cycle is DIGNITY. You can find more information about that here. At the Feb. 17 town hall, we presented on some of our highest priority demands and heard input from members. (Members can continue to communicate questions, comments and concerns with the bargaining team at through this form.) That input is helping the Bargaining Team solidify the specific demands for our initial proposals which will be presented at our first negotiation meeting on March 17.

The Bargaining Team is acutely aware of the disparities that exist within our bargaining unit and want to equitably address that issue through our contract proposals including a substantial salary increase which represents the most basic tenet of being treated with DIGNITY.

While we have not specifically defined how we’d like to see that happen yet, the Bargaining Team is acutely aware of the disparities that exist within our bargaining unit and want to equitably address that issue. 

What’s our timeline this term?

Throughout the spring term, we’ll be holding bargaining sessions with UO’s team every other Friday from 12-3pm in McKenzie 221. Here’s the full list of dates:

  • Friday, April 7, 12 pm-3 pm
  • Friday, April 21, 12-3 pm
  • Friday, May 5, 12 pm-3 pm
  • Friday, May 19, 12 pm-3 pm
  • Friday, June 2, 12 pm-3 pm
  • Friday, June 16, 12-3 pm

Please mark your calendar and plan to attend for as much time as you can. We’ll have the most power if we all show up and pack the room, to show the university how seriously we all take our working conditions!

In the meantime, our team is still hard at work developing proposal language to reflect our collective priorities. Internal Bargaining Team meetings for the Spring 2023 term are on Tuesdays from 6-8pm in the GTFF office and on the GTFF zoom; all members are welcome to attend.

What is “mediation”?

Mediation brings in a third-party mediator from the state Employment Relations Board (ERB) to facilitate bargaining between us and the UO administration. First, though, we have exhausted our 180 days of open bargaining. Entering mediation means that we’re not having success reaching agreement at the table with just the teams, and it can also often mean closed-door sessions.

What is “impasse”?

After 15 days of mediation, either side and/or the mediator can decide that no further progress toward settlement can be made through mediation. Declaring “impasse” calls a halt to bargaining and both sides have seven days to submit their “last best offer.” After this offer begins a 30-day “cooling-off” period.  At the end of that period, UO can impose its new contract and we, as GEs, can withhold our labor if we do not agree to that contract.

How do I talk to faculty about bargaining?

Faculty can be another great resource for solidarity and support as we put pressure on the university. Here are a few suggestions and caveats about starting that conversation.

  • GE labor helps faculty and instruction overall. They know this, you know this—make it clear that GES are asking to be treated as the employees (junior colleagues) that we are!
  • The faculty union (UAUO) starts bargaining this year, and they may face a similar situation—let them know that GTFF stands in solidarity with them!
  • Department heads are considered “managers,” and shouldn’t discuss bargaining with you because they can be seen as representatives of the university. Other folks? Chat with them!
  • If faculty want to know how they can help, great! You can encourage them to:
    • Communicate with other faculty and administrators on campus in support of GE priorities and needs
    • Roll out to GTFF informational pickets, work-ins, and other public GTFF events like rallies!