Letter of Agreement, IPSA cuts/hiring, summer, and funding extensions
We are in constant conversation 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.
Letter of Agreement
We have reached a deal on a Letter of Agreement with UO that extends GE rights and benefits. There are many more things to work on, but check out a summary of the Agreement, which seeks to fix some immediate concerns.
Paid Sick Leave
UO is providing all employees an additional two weeks worth of paid emergency sick leave. GEs can (should) be used prior to utilizing “normal” accrued sick leave.
UO has created and all grads have access to a new crisis fund (application on the Dean of Students website). A proportional part of that fund is allocated specifically for grads. UO is anticipating about $150,000 in emergency funds to be available for grads.
There is also the Graduate Student Assistance Fund, available for all grad students, for coverage of medical expenses. The Grad Assistance, which is a part of the GTFF collective bargaining agreement, also has about $150,000 in it.
Workplace Health and Safety
This letter of agreement provides stronger language around health and safety, including the right of GEs to refuse to work if you cannot adhere to social distancing protocols while accessing campus.
Timelines for GDRS change proposals and GE feedback have been pushed back as well.
All grad students who had a GE position sometime in AY19-20 are eligible for a GE position next year without an exception.This includes GEs who would have had an IP/SA (Institutional Priority/Strategic Alliance) position, but you won’t be able to get that particular position (see IP/SA cuts information below).
Currently, all centrally-funded GE positions will be available next year, and departments are expected to fill these positions with current GEs and incoming grads who were promised funding for next year before the hiring freeze was put into place. GE positions funded by grants or extramural funding will also be able to proceed as planned. Funding offers for new, incoming grad students will be honored if made and accepted by April 15. No new offers or hires will be made after that date for Fall 2020.
These positions are significant improvements over where the Admin started with regard to the hiring freeze. Initially, they were going to require departments to request exemptions to the hiring freeze for many GE positions. We were concerned that many would be denied, resulting in significantly fewer GE positions being available next year. We advocated fiercely that UO has a moral and civic responsibility to keep as many people on payroll as possible. These revised guidelines should mean fewer lost GE positions than initially proposed.
IP/SA Position Cuts
The Graduate School has canceled all 51 IP/SA (Institutional Priority/Strategic Alliance) Administrative GE positions for Fall. That leaves about 50 non-IPSA Admin GE positions on the books for the moment.
We are pressing the Admin to reconsider these cuts, but they remain adamant about cutting the IPSA positions for next year. It is possible - but not likely - that some of these positions could be reinstated. We are also pushing admin to connect people who lost IP/SA position related funding to help them get funding elsewhere.
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 pushing admin to recognize their obligation to support our most vulnerable members, particularly international GEs/migrant workers. We are demanding information and clarity on what is going to happen with GEs during summer term.
The reality is that the administration is not sure what will happen this summer, but they are discussing and developing plans. They indicated that they will have more information in the next couple of weeks.
We will be meeting again with HR and the Grad School again soon--if not next week, then the following week. We will share any further information as soon as we have it.
International GE resources
We continue to press the university (and our departments, individually) on resources directed toward assisting international GEs in this unpredictable and precarious time. The UO has yet to respond to our questions about support that will be provided by the university, but we continue to push for support in every meeting and at every opportunity.
Academic timeline extensions
The Grad School has issued several policy changes (via email earlier today), including one allowing for academic timelines to be extended by up to a year as needed.
GTFF also told the Grad School and UO administration that they need to seriously consider extending funding clocks, given the inevitable delays in graduation times and post-graduation employment challenges. They seemed to agree that delays are likely, but do not seem to be seriously considering extending funding guarantees at the moment.
In acknowledgement of the precarity of our current situation and drawing from examples at other institutions, GEs in Philosophy, Sociology, and other departments have drafted an open letter to President Schill and other administrators seeking an extension of funding guarantees for grad students across campus. Please add your name in support to show the administration that we're serious about this need in our community!
Looking for ways to stay connected in our community?
Looking for folks to write with?
Let's encourage each other as we try to get used to a new normal. Meet up with colleagues for a virtual writing circle (hosted by Deanna Campbell-Belcher) on Tuesdays from 1-4pm! Join on Zoom.
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.