In bargaining yesterday, the UO made only miniscule changes to their previous offers and spent a considerable amount of time explaining to your bargaining team that their offers were already extremely generous. Very generous. Amazingly generous.
To illustrate their generosity, they offered us the hypothetical example of a full-time Biology GTF who keeps her health insurance over the summer. Let’s walk through her adventure in generosity.
The UO has generously agreed to let her keep her full tuition waiver. They pointed out to us that at least two schools that they know of, but chose not to name, do not offer their graduate employees a full tuition waiver, so our Biology grad should be very grateful that the UO covers her full tuition.
The UO will not be raising her wages this year. Wage increases were reserved for those earning the minimum wage and Biology GTFs earn well above the minimum wage.
The UO is proposing to cut her fees by $210 a year. This is the center-piece of the UO’s generosity. Fees will go from $140 a quarter to $70 a quarter, a 50% reduction! Again, the UO pointed out that many unnamed schools offer no fee reduction at all, so their generosity is particularly notable with regards to this offer.
The UO will require her to pay $144 during the regular academic year for health insurance. While the UO did not describe this particular feature of their proposal as generous – in fact, they sort of ignored it altogether – they did note that our health care plan is extremely generous. Biology currently pays for her summer insurance, so she’ll see no savings from the UO lowering summer insurance costs.
In the end, our hypothetical Biology GTF will come out ahead $69 a year. That represents a .375% increase in her take home pay.
But let’s say that your hypothetical Biology GTF is not your typical GTF and the UO just chose a particularly bad example to illustrate how generous their proposals really are. Let’s look at your typical GTF.
Again, the UO is willing to cover any increases to the cost of tuition over the next two years, which, as they stressed, they do not have to. They also did some work trying to point out to us that this represents real lost revenue to the UO because if you did not have a GTF position with a full tuition waiver, you’d be forking over tens of thousands of dollars just to go here.
The typical GTF will continue to earn a wage just above poverty-level, $12,800 or so a year. Huzzah! There will be no guaranteed raises for the typical GTF, which means that she stands to lose about 3% of the value of her wages due to inflation. But maybe her department will give her a raise.
The typical GTF will see that $210 reduction in fees and that $144 cost for health insurance, netting $69 a year. Under the UO’s proposals, the typical GTF will see a reduction in her costs for summer health insurance, from $242.43 to (an estimated) $191.52. A savings of $50.91.
The UO’s proposals would benefit the typical GTF roughly $119 a year. That’s a .99% increase in take home pay! Which will really help offset some of that increase in inflation.
It is important to note that this “generosity” comes while the UO is sitting on a mountain of cash. As has been noted before and fully acknowledged by the UO’s bargaining team, the UO has $90 million in unrestricted reserves that they could do just about anything they wanted to do with it. It would cost them $450,000 to eliminate fees completely. They are very much not interested in doing that. They have chosen, instead, to be generous to other people on campus.