Bargaining Update – 7th & 8th Mediation Sessions

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Letter from the President:

7th & 8th Mediation Session

Greetings,

Since my last message, our bargaining committee has met with the university’s team twice more in mediated bargaining, most recently last Thursday. The university’s newest economic mediation proposal, presented Thursday, shows little to no forward movement on health insurance, fees, wages, or support for international GEs.

  • While they are closer to our proposed payment structure and have moved away from their original money-shifting plan with health insurance, UO currently proposes to pay the current (95%) percentage of coverage based only 2018-19 premium numbers—in other words, still a flat payment. This proposal does not account for premium increases year-on-year—this is still a cut to healthcare!
  • They are still playing the money-shifting game with fees, although they have moved to a flat number rather than a percentage (an added $264/term to paychecks to compensate for a new fee cost of $325/term).  This still constitutes a net pay cut for GEs and an underhanded recruiting ploy to attract new grad students.
  • UO’s most recent proposal on wages is between a 1.65% to 1.75% increase to GE salaries, a number far below the 3% average rate of inflation. This is actually a pay cut that puts GEs even further behind the cost of living. 
  • Despite moving up (marginally) in the percentage pay raise they propose, the university’s team still refuses to directly target the minimum salaries, which we have proposed to help our most underpaid members. They cite their own funding changes for this shift to established raise structure. 
  • UO’s team continues to resist committing money to support international GEs over the summer, which our bargaining committee continues to press them on.
  • UO still refuses to discuss housing concerns in negotiations.

The economic proposal from the UO comes after our bargaining committee offered two different potential models for containing health care costs, at the university’s request. Instead of a direct response to those models, this proposal makes only marginal movement while maintaining much of the structure of their past proposals.

Based on this emphasis on artificially raising the stipend amount with money from fees, it seems clear that the UO wants to attract new students without effectively supporting them once they’re here.

We are making some progress in family leave—the university is now offering 6 weeks of leave—but they still insist that accrued sick leave must be used toward that 6-week period (before UO support kicks in).

In the spirit of good-faith negotiations, to which the GTFF remains committed, we recently TA’d (tentatively agreed on) articles supporting protections for GEs related to ICE and non-discrimination.



What You Can Do

While the bargaining committee remains committed to negotiating at the table, doing everything in its power to win the best contract we can for all our members, we also need to continue to show the university outside mediation that we are equally committed. We’ll be looking for opportunities to put pressure on the university, including ways to support SEIU employees, who are also in concerning contract negotiations right now. If you’re interested in helping out with GTFF actions, communications, social events, and more as we gear up for fall, fill out this survey!

Talk to your colleagues about bargaining! Make sure they know what’s happening. As always, you can check out the bargaining blog (bit.ly/bargblog) for specific language proposals from us and from the UO.

TL;DR?

We’re making some progress in mediation, but the university’s proposals still constitute insulting cuts to wages and healthcare for GEs. Your bargaining committee is fighting like hell and will continue to do everything in its power to win the best contract possible.
Get involved and support the bargaining committee’s effortsshow the university we’re all still in this fight for a fair contract!
In Solidarity Forever,



Ellen Gillooly-Kress

President of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation

To learn more about our bargaining efforts, visit our website.

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