Expanded sick leave, credit hour requirements, and hiring freeze
We are in conversations with the university administration and continue to push to make sure our well-being and that of all campus workers and students is being protected and prioritized in the response to COVID-19. As we know what this looks like in more concrete terms, we will share it!
Below are a few updates/clarifications to keep in mind. Remember, you can always find up-to-date information on the GTFF Coronavirus Updates page.
The letter of agreement, which we are currently finalizing, will provide two more weeks of paid sick leave to GEs, in accordance with the CARES Act, and allow GEs to petition the Graduate School to reduce the number of credits they need to take in a term from 9 to 3. (Please remember, if you are working remotely, you are working, and you do not need to take sick leave!)
Additionally, we have proposed language to clarify and expand the right of GEs to refuse to work in unsafe spaces and to increase the maximum payout of the graduate assistance fund for medical issues. We expect to finalize the LOA soon (hopefully this week).
You may have heard by now about the university's hiring freeze, which was instituted March 19 and puts a hold on hiring any new employees at the university indefinitely. While much of this policy's affect on GEs is still unclear, HR has said that guaranteed funding periods will be honored (i.e. that GEs within their period of guaranteed funding will still be able to get GE positions during the freeze). Admin has indicated that a protocol is in the works for GEs who are outside of guaranteed funding structures to request exemptions from the hiring freeze, but admin has not provided any clarity how exactly this will affect GEs.
We have been pressing and will continue to press for more concrete information. They have told us they will have more information about their financial situation (and its effects on summer and fall especially) later in April, and we will share that information as we get it!
If you have questions, concerns, or just want to talk to someone (or if you’re considering being a part of union leadership next year/proposing bylaw changes this spring), please “stop by” leadership Zoom office hours.
We are currently pressing the university on resources directed toward assisting international GEs in this unpredictable and precarious time. While they have yet to respond to our questions about support that will be provided by the university, our parent union AFT has released these FAQs about international students and workers' rights and position in higher education's current environment.
Remote instruction, workload, and resources
If you have been asked by your supervisor to come to campus or perform other activities that contradict UO protocols, email your supervisor and copy Alexis Kiessling (VP for Grievances). If you are immunocompromised or at high risk of contracting Coronavirus, your supervisor cannot make you come onto campus - per Article 10, Section 2 of our contract, you may refuse to work in any unsafe space, and as noted above, this will be further clarified by our new letter of agreement.
With spring term getting going, we're all adjusting to the new remote setup. Remember to track your hours! Here are some suggestions for some handy apps that allow you to organize your tracked time: Clockify, Toggl.
If you have other concerns about overwork or your work environment, you can always direct them to your department steward or the lead steward for your area.
Get involved with mutual aid
As GTFF members, we are proud to be integral parts of our local community. Folks in the community are organizing onlinearound mutual aid resources and how to safely work to survive this turmoil together. Please reach out to Rhiannon Lindgren or Michael Marchman if you are interested in helping to organize GTFF participation in this important effort.