Four articles down, seven to go! 

Members of the GTFF Bargaining Team pose at a table while raising their left fist in solidarity. Photo taken on November 9, 2023.

This was our first session during the “Cooling Off” period, and we’re happy to report that we’ve accomplished two major goals related to our DIGNITY platform—increased support for our international and caregiving members. You can find more details about what we’ve won below and on our Trello board

To be clear, those are major wins that could not have been won without the time and energy all our members and allies have dedicated. While these gains are encouraging, after waiting about six (!!) hours for UO to be prepared to meet with us, we were completely underwhelmed and a bit confused with UO’s salary proposal.

If UO intends to avoid a strike, their salary offer did not show that. At the end of our session, we stressed that at our next session on November 20, we expect significant movement on UO’s financial package. The clock is ticking. 

Details on our wins:

Article 9 (Work Assignment/Agreement) Wins

  • 6 weeks notice of available teaching assignments (prior: 4 weeks) and 3 weeks notice for teaching GE assignments (prior: 2 weeks).
  • Workload Allocation Forms are to be completed when course caps are increased.
  • GDRS will now include information about selection criteria for GE appointments, any work GEs must complete before the first day of classes.
  • Clear explanations about what counts against total years of funding.

Article 25 (Respectful Workplace) Wins

  • Secured 4 support GE positions in the Division of Graduate Studies and 1 in LERC (Labor Education Research Center) GE.
  • Establishes training and expectations for faculty on workplace bullying, discrimination and retaliation, power dynamics, appropriate professional boundaries, and disability accommodations.
  • Provides a clearer definition of workplace bullying.

Support & Resources for International GE Article Wins

  • UO will reimburse SEVIS and visa application fees.
  • UO will provide free state and federal tax software to all international GEs, and send info on how to access it at least one month before tax deadline.
  • New international GE eligibility for grad assistance fund to support summer expenses.
  • New optional training specific to international GE needs related to U.S. workplace communication and cultural adaptation strategies.
  • Information about UO housing and deadlines will be provided by UO around the time offer letters are sent.
  • Information about obtaining UO mailing address and mailing address guidelines will be provided by UO around the time offer letters are sent.

Caregiving Support Article Wins

  • UO subsidized childcare eligibility will continue throughout summer, regardless of employment or student status, as long as the GE is returning to UO in the fall. 
  • Caregiver GEs now have the same access to membership as other UO employee groups.
  • UO will maintain UO Care Provider Network.
  • Expanded qualifying events for the Grad Assistance Fund and increased eligibility amount of assistance for qualifying caregiving and/or childcare expenses to $1,000.
  • Other improvements to caregivers can be found in other articles:
    • Article 10: Improved accommodations and lactation spaces 
    • Article 25: Support services for families through the Division of Graduate Studies
    • Article 29: We are still working on securing supplemental unpaid leave in addition to the 12 weeks of paid leave we’ve secured. 

Here’s what’s still on the table:

  • Article 22 (Salary): UO brought an offer that completely reconfigures raises around GE I, GE II, and GE III levels. Although the numbers look like UO is making significant movement on salary minimums from their last offer–their offer only increased by about 1% according to our team’s initial calculation. UO also failed to increase their offer for across-the-board raises. Their offer is nowhere near where it should be at this point and rearranging how the money is applied isn’t going to distract us from the wages mandate our members have given us. 
  • While we’re still sorting out exactly how we’ll respond in our next counter, as our co-lead negotiator, Cy Abbott, said at the table, “We have made the significant movement we can make as a team. We’ve been given a clear message by our membership about what’s needed in terms of salaries. We need to have a deal that would be palatable to the GTFF on the 20th.” 
  • If you want to see what proposed raises would mean for your paycheck, our data team has created a salary calculator! As both sides continue to negotiate, you can use the “Custom Proposal” column to test the newest numbers. 
  • Articles 23 (Tuition Waiver) and 24 (Health Insurance): UO brought no changes to their Last Offers. We asserted our intent to also hold to our Last Offers for these two articles. We believe any fees are a wage clawback and not adequately contributing to our health insurance administration is an attack on our healthcare. 
  • New Reimbursement Article: We’ve made movement in getting GEs access to UO One Cards for travel-related expenses but still reasserting our Last Offer on timely reimbursement for GE expenses not initially covered by UO. Waiting months to be reimbursed by your employer is unacceptable; and while UO “hopes” late reimbursements won’t happen in the future, hope isn’t going to pay our overdraft fees.
  • Article 17 (Appointments/ Reappointments): We’ve agreed to transparent expectations around what employment counts against guaranteed funding for future GEs (this language will be in Article 9). We’re still negotiating language that addresses current GEs who did not have clear guidelines around funding and employment.
  • Article 29 (Paid/Unpaid Leave): We’re now proposing to allow 12 weeks of  Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) and 12 weeks of Unpaid Family/Medical Leave (FML) to run concurrently (as UO has proposed) but expand Unpaid FML to 18 weeks, so GEs would get 6 weeks additional unpaid leave on top of the existing 12 weeks paid leave with PLO. We also added language that clarifies the retention of benefits during qualifying leave.

So, what happens next?

  • We have one more mediation session scheduled during the cooling off period with UO’s team on Monday, November 20. 
  • Meanwhile, we need members to keep up the pressure and back up our demands at the table with a credible strike threat. To do this:
    • November 11: Strike School (open to all GTFF members) to review the basics of going on strike. At the GTFF Office from 10:30am- 12pm
    • November 17: We have another General Membership Meeting on Friday from 5:30-7:30pm in PLC 180 (food @ 5pm).
    • Attend department meetings organized by your stewards (or organize them yourself!).
    • Join the Mutual Aid Committee (meeting Tuesdays from 12-1pm in the GTFF office and on Zoom) to plan how we’ll take care of each other in the event of a strike.
    • Get familiar with our new Strike FAQs document so that you’ll have the knowledge to support yourself and your colleagues. 
    • Share our Strike Fund with people you know who may be able to donate. 

Above all, continue building connections with fellow GEs. These connections are what will keep us strong, united, and prepared for whatever comes our way!