UO graduate employees will strike if a deal is not reached by Wednesday, January 17.
Dear Fellow Graduate Employees and Community Members:
This week, the GTFF Bargaining Team gave notice to the University of Oregon of our collective intent to strike if a deal is not reached by Wednesday, January 17, 2024. This decision was authorized through a 97% strike vote by GTFF members, with 90% of members participating in the vote.
Over the last 10 months of contract negotiations, the University has continuously failed to bring wage proposals that address the needs of all GEs, who have experienced record-breaking inflation exceeding 20% since our last contract in 2019. Despite GTFF’s clear data on the great need for significant raises, the UO initially proposed increases of a mere 4% (for GEs at the minimum rate) and 0% (for all other GEs) in the first year. After we countered this inadequate proposal from the UO in May 2023, the UO delayed contract negotiations by holding Article 22 (Salary) for more than 75 days with no counter-offers.
In late November, we were able to Tentatively Agree to an excellent contract package of the remaining articles, excluding Article 22 and a proposed Letter of Agreement. After carefully reviewing the UO’s latest wage offers from November 30, we have determined that this proposal does not meet the “Economic Stability” demand as outlined in our “GEs Deserve Dignity” bargaining platform—nor does it meet the expectations of our members.
While the University’s proposal to equalize minimum pay rates across all three GE levels would provide stronger wages for the newer GEs at level I, the current raises proposed for GEs at higher levels, who have seen the cost of living rise and the value of their labor decline in their time at UO, will still leave many workers behind. Our members have been clear that ALL GEs need a fair wage increase. We are no longer willing to tolerate the University’s insistence on denying our members the basic dignity of financial security.
We also reject the University’s choice to deprioritize the valuable work that Graduate Employees do—both as teachers and researchers—to contribute to the mission of this University. The UO appears willing to compromise the quality of education offered to undergraduates in the face of a potential strike, rather than provide fair wages to their educational workers. This sentiment was made clear during the University Academic Council’s meeting on Academic Continuity on January 3, during which University leaders planned to hire additional instructors to undercut a GE strike.
We sincerely hope that the UO Administration will come back to the table with a proposal that addresses our needs as employees of this University and members of this community. We have given the UO ample time to bring us a fair deal to avoid negative consequences for this University’s academic reputation, to maintain quality education at UO, and to protect UO’s relationships with undergraduates, graduates, faculty and staff.
We know there are many questions about what a GE strike will entail. For public-facing information, our Bargaining Hub is the central location for strike information and resources: gtff3544.net/bargaining. For members-only information, all GTFF members are welcome to join us at our Emergency GMM on January 12 from 5:30-7:30 in PLC 180 (and zoom) to discuss strike plans. GTFF will send out additional members-only messages in the coming days, including a form to sign up for picket line shifts and more critical strike information. For any GEs who are not yet GTFF members, there’s no better time to join our union!
In order to secure dignified working conditions for all GEs, we are prepared to take the collective action of going on strike. Based on everything we have seen, we cannot believe more strongly in GEs, in our union, and in the power of our solidarity. We are committed to doing what it takes to win a fair contract, and we look forward to seeing you all on the picket line.
GTFF Bargaining Team (2023-2024)