Today, we declared impasse in bargaining with the UO administration. This marks a major change in the timeline for negotiations. Each side will now make their “last best offer” within seven days followed by a 30-day cooling-off period during which negotiations will continue. The move follows the university administration’s latest proposal, which still insists on significant cuts to funding for health care and minimal wage adjustments that fall below inflation.
Despite the UO administration’s minimal movement in bargaining over the last 10 months, GTFF has remained committed to negotiations while striving to move toward a living wage, to maintain affordable and high quality health care coverage, and to make gains in terms of summer funding, support for international students, parental leave, and childcare subsidies.
Unfortunately, UO’s offer on wage adjustments falls below 3 percent in the first two years of the contract, below the predicted cost of living increase. Also, UO administration has insisted on restructuring our health care so that UO would only cover insurance at current levels for premium increases between 0 and 2 percent. This would force us to bear a greater cost burden over the next three years and potentially endure severe cuts to benefits in key areas such as dental, vision and mental health care. Such changes would disproportionately affect GEs with families and with greater health needs.
We have made it clear since the beginning of negotiations that an agreement is not possible if the proposal contains any reduction in health care. Throughout negotiations, however, the UO administration has not been receptive to our needs and has neglected those who would be negatively affected by their proposals. The Bargaining Committee is committed to reaching an agreement and will continue to bargain with the administration, but UO’s latest offer indicates that the administration is committed to cutting our health care.
As you may know, classified staff on campus represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 503 are also in contract negotiations and have been at impasse for a month now. UO and other public universities statewide have so far refused to grant the staff that keep our buildings clean, our technology working, and our offices organized the fair pay and benefits their work deserves. SEIU is likely to go on strike this coming Monday, Sept. 30, in their fight for a fair contract, and we stand in solidarity with them as we both work for improvements to working conditions on this campus. If you can join our fellow workers on their picket lines on Monday, sign up here!
It is crucial now more than ever for us to come together as the GTFF to finish these contract negotiations as a strong and united group. We recently welcomed nearly 400 new graduate employees on campus, which means we will get the chance to bring our newest members into the ongoing conversations we are having about bargaining in this crucial time.
We will stop at nothing to defend our right to a dignified wage and the health care that we deserve. Will you stand up to defend these rights with us?
Join us at our first General Membership Meeting of the year on October 4th, 5:30-8:30 at South Eugene High School. We will go over our proposals and timeline in detail! Please keep an eye out over the next few weeks for more news and information as school starts.
In Solidarity Forever,
Ellen Gillooly-Kress President of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation
To learn more about our bargaining efforts, visit our website.