More than UO bargained for: GEs are showing their power at the bargaining table and beyond.

Photo of a speaker in a GTFF shirt, raising a fist, while a crowd of people holding GTFF signs look on.
Over 200 research GEs participated in a walkout and rally on Wednesday, November 29. Photo by Christian Tensuan.

We hit a major milestone at our session on November 30: UO agreed to our comprehensive package proposal from our last session. As a reminder, we chose to create this package in the hopes that we could reach TAs (tentative agreements) on as many articles as possible before heading into winter term. This would allow us to keep the rest of our negotiations focused on salary. In short, this package includes substantial wins, especially for the health and wellbeing priority of our DIGNITY platform

Read on for some of the highlights of that package, plus UO’s latest salary offer. As usual, you can find all the details on our Trello board

Package Details

Summer Term

  • Increase in university contribution to health insurance during the summer term from 80% university contribution / 20% GE contribution to 85% / 15%. This reduction in costs will especially help GEs with dependents! (Article 24)
  • For GEs with a summer GE appointment–Reduction in summer fees from 65% to a flat $61 to be consistent with academic year fee cost. Although we believe fees should be $0, there’s no reason to pay more just because it’s summer. (Article 19)

Health Insurance

  • University will increase its contribution to our health care administration to keep up with rising costs. (Article 24)


  • GEs will now have an additional 4 weeks of unpaid leave in addition to the 12 weeks of paid leave. (Article 29)
  • GEs taking leave under Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave will retain their tuition waiver to allow them to continue making academic progress, if they’re not also taking academic leave. (Article 29)
  • GEs can no longer be asked to work on holidays observed by the university (except as necessary to maintain or operate critical facilities or operations). Additionally, GEs who observe religious or cultural holidays can’t be unreasonably denied time off to observe those holidays. (Article 29)

Expense Reimbursement (New Article!)

  • All GEs now have access to a UO One Card when paying for business travel expenses.
  • Expense reimbursements that have not been processed in a timely manner can now be formally grieved.

In order to get these wins and give UO more space to increase their salary offer, we had to concede on some of our previous asks, such as $0 mandatory fees during the academic year, an increase to minimum FTE from .2 to .3 FTE (we already won an increase to .25 FTE, but we’re pushing for more), and financial penalties for late pay. However, these are proposals that can be addressed during the next bargaining cycle.

What’s left on the table?

The TA we achieved on this package means that only two things are left on the table: a Letter of Agreement (LOA) regarding interdepartmental funding, and the crucial Article 22 (Salary). This LOA was originally a part of the package we presented, but because of the complexities of identifying which GEs would qualify, we agreed to separate the LOA from the package so that it didn’t hold up our ability to TA everything else. 

UO’s latest salary offer (details in the chart below) uses the new format they initially presented on November 9, which reconfigures the overall structure of GE pay by bringing minimum salaries for GEs at different pay levels up to the same rate. This would mean big raises for GEs at Level I; however, GEs at Level II and III would receive dramatically lower raises. We’ve let UO know that supporting members who have been here longer is important to us, and pay structure will continue to be a topic of negotiation.

Before putting these numbers forward, UO offered to share their current bottom line with us as a confidential mediation proposal—meaning that the numbers could not be made public unless we TA’d the offer. (Teams can offer confidential proposals as part of the mediation process, but this is the first time one has come up in our negotiations.) As a bargaining team, we decided not to accept information on salary that we wouldn’t be able to share with members, especially since it would dramatically impact our ability to make decisions moving forward into a potential strike. We don’t want to compromise the culture of transparency around negotiations we’ve built so far, and as our union prepares for a potential strike, we want everyone to be acting on the same information as we fight for a fair contract together.

With that said, here is UO’s latest salary proposal: 

Across the Board (ATB)Year 1Year 2Year 3
1.0 rates below $50K*7%3%3%
1.0 rates above $50K*4%
*An important note: In this chart, UO’s numbers are based on a $50k salary for a 9-month appointment at a 1.0 FTE. As GEs, we can have a maximum of .49 FTE, so the actual threshold is about $24,500 for a 9-month appointment at a .49 FTE.
Increase to MinimumsYear 1Year 2Year 3
GE Level III7%3.75%3.75%
GE Level II[12.98%]
GE Level I[27.64%]

What happens next?

Now that the 30-day cooling off period has passed, we (the Bargaining Team) can officially declare our 10-day intent to strike at any point. While we’ve made substantial progress with the majority of our articles, it’s going to take the threat and potential exercise of our right to strike in order to meet our goals for salary. We encourage you to take time to rest and recover over the winter break! We’ll need everyone plugged in and ready if we file our intent to strike.

This will be our last update for a few weeks, but we’re set to meet with UO again in early January. In the meantime, keep an eye out for an end-of-year message about everything our union has accomplished so far in our fight for a fair contract. All these wins are thanks to our collective power—so, as you wrap up the term, remember that UO works because we do!