This is Mike Magee your GTFF President and Lead Negotiator for our bargaining team. As negotiations progress, you’re likely to hear a number of talking points and canned arguments from the University about our proposals. Here are some counter-points to some of the more common arguments we’re likely to hear from their negotiation team and in University publications. Expect for their side to use most if not all of these arguments at the January 18th negotiation session where they plan to go over University finances.
"Higher pay and benefits for GEs means that undergraduate tuition will need to increase."
The University likes to argue that any increases to their operating costs must come at the expense of undergraduate tuition, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The University is in tremendous debt from a number of huge capital projects like the half-billion dollars for the Knight Campus and renovations to sports facilities. These costs far exceed the pay-raises proposed by the GTFF, and the University plans to raise student tuition to cover these costs regardless of GE benefits and salaries.
"The costs of the GTFF health insurance plan are out of control."
The GTFF actually saved the University nearly 6%, or $580,000 a year, in the switch from Pacific Source to Regence as the carrier for the GTFF health insurance plan last year. The GTFF Health and Welfare Trust is a responsible steward of University funds and keeps any cost increases at a manageable level as required under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"State funding is at an all-time low, so the University can’t give employees higher pay and benefits even if they wanted to."
It is true that state funding for higher education, and for the University of Oregon in particular, is very low and shows no signs of increasing. However, public funds only account for 7% of the University’s overall 1 billion dollar yearly operating budget. If the University really wants to give GEs a living wage, they could easily do so by reallocating funds they receive from athletics, private donors, and other funding sources.
"Higher pay and benefits for GEs means that other employee groups like faculty, classified staff, and others will get less in their collective bargaining agreements."
The University might claim that the collective bargaining agreements of the various employee groups on campus are in a zero-sum game for resources. This is a disingenuous effort to pit employee groups against each other in order to provide lower pay and benefits to all employees. The campus unions stand united to improve living conditions for all workers and insist that the university has the ability to give fair and adequate compensation for all.
"The GTFF’s proposals are prohibitively expensive and excessive; there is no way the University can pay for these demands."
No matter what our bargaining team brings to the table, the University will claim that they could never afford it. Our demands for a living wage, summer funding, and adequate childcare are what we need to live a dignified life during our time in graduate school and to focus on our research and courses, rather than worrying about making ends meet.
"The new Knight Campus promises to be a boon for graduate education and GEs across campus."
While we are excited for the kinds of research made possible by the Knight Campus and are looking forward to welcoming hundreds of new GEs into our Union from the expansion of the natural sciences, we shouldn’t accept at face-value the argument that it is a universal good for all GEs. Shifting focus away from the Humanities and Social Sciences indicates that the University doesn’t prioritize GEs in those disciplines in the same way, and the private connections with industry the campus explicitly touts raise concerns of public accountability and ensuring research from the state’s largest public university serves the common good. Our Union fights for the good of all GEs, regardless of discipline or research focus, and will continue to do so regardless of how the University shifts their own priorities.
Your bargaining team is eager to get back at the table with the University on January 18th, and we are optimistic that the University’s proposals will be designed to make GE’s lives and working conditions better. I hope to see you all there!
Solidarity with LA Teachers Our cousin, the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), is going on strike! Let's show our support for their struggle for smaller class sizes, higher pay, nurses for every school, and more. Wear #RedforEd and join us for a demonstration in front of the EMU. For more information, see below and read here. - Date: Monday, 1/14 (Week 2)
- Time: 12:00pm
- Location: intersection of 13th and University - Contact: Kayleigh Peterman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Environmental Justice Caucus Meeting Come join the EJ Caucus for a pitcher of beer, some pizza, and a discussion of where the caucus is headed this term! We'll be planning a film screening, collaboration with Beyond Toxics, and other events for the term! - Date: Monday, 1/14 (Week 2)
- Time: 4:00pm
- Location: Pegasus Pizza (790 E. 14th Ave.) - Contact: Nick Theis (email@example.com)
Bargaining Committee Meetings This is the group who will sit at the table with the University and write contract proposals over the next year.
- Days: Mondays
- Time: 5:30pm
- Location: GTFF Office (609 E. 13th Ave.)
- Contact: Mike Magee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Round-Table with Ida Keir This round-table session with our local immigration lawyer Ida Keir was organized by the International GE Caucus and will cover Q&As and issue-sharing about topics including international GE working and visa matters.
- Days: Thursday, 1/17 (Week 2)
- Time: 5:00pm - 7:00pm
- Location: GTFF Office (609 E. 13th Ave.)
- Contact: Sanan Moradi(email@example.com)
Third Bargaining Session Come support our Bargaining Committee at the third Bargaining Session of 2018-2019! Last time, we heard the Bargaining Committee present the last of their proposals to the university. During this session, we expect the university to respond to our proposals--and we're ready! Over a hundred GTFF members packed the room at each of the first two bargaining sessions. Let's continue to show the university that we stand together to fight for our rights as workers! Can't make it in person? Tune in to our livestream! For more information, visit the event's Facebook page. - Date: Friday, 1/18 (Week 2)
- Time: 11:00am - 3:00pm
- Location: TBD - Contact: Mike Magee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
E-Council Meeting All Stewards, Caucus Chairs, and other union leaders are invited to the first E-Council Meeting of the Winter Term! We've got a full agenda and will be discussing bargaining, the vacated VP for External Relations position, the 2019 AFT-OR Convention, solidarity opportunities, and our new Member Organizer. Light refreshments will be provided. Be sure to RSVP! - Date: Tuesday, 1/15 (Week 2)
- Time: 5:30pm - 7:30pm
- Location: GTFF Office (609 E. 13th Ave.) - Contact: Nikki Cox (email@example.com)
Union Workshop Series We are launching a series of workshops primarily for Stewards and open to all interested Members. There are five sessions scheduled between Weeks 2 and 4 so far. See below for more information! - Location: GTFF Office (609 E. 13th Ave.) - Contact: Michael Marchman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Grievance Committee Meeting The Grievance Committee assists the VP for Grievances in resolving grievances brought to union leadership by Members. The Committee conducts research into grievances, recommends action, and supports grievants throughout the process. If you are interested in getting involved, join the Grievance Committee at their first meeting this Winter! - Date: Tuesday, 1/22 (Week 3)
- Time: 2:00pm - 3:00pm
- Location: GTFF Office (609 E. 13th Ave.) - Contact: Ricardo Friaz (email@example.com)
Contract Action Team (CAT) Meeting Come hear how the CAT plans to support GTFF's bargaining efforts! - Date: Wednesday, 1/30 (Week 4)
- Time: 5:30pm - 7:30pm
- Location: GTFF Office (609 E. 13th Ave.) - Contacts: Nikki Cox (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kayleigh Peterman (email@example.com)
Winter General Membership Meeting (GMM) Put it on your calendar! We'll hear updates from the Executive Board, Bargaining Committee, and Caucuses (as well as more). Refreshments will be provided.
- Date: Friday, 2/8 (Week 5)
- Time: 5:30pm - 8:30pm
- Location: South Eugene High School cafeteria (400 E. 19th Ave.) - Contact: Ellen Gillooly-Kress (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Want to learn more about your rights as a worker? Interested in ways to strengthen your union? Check out these great opportunities!
Organizing Your Department Thursday, 1/17 (Week 2), 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Wednesday, 1/23 (Week 3), 3:00pm - 4:30pm
This workshop/training focuses on how to effectively organize your department, increase membership and involvement, and develop a strategy for building union power with your colleagues. Department-based organizing is THE KEY to having a strong, effective, democratic union. Useful to anyone who wants to help strengthen our union.
Know Your Contract Tuesday, 1/22 (Week 3), 1:30pm - 3:00pm
This workshop/training covers the basics of our collective bargaining agreement, including the rights, benefits and protections guaranteed to all GEs under our contract. We will also discuss some of the most common contract violations and least known provisions and what we can do when to contract is violated or GEs are treated unfairly. All GEs, and especially all Stewards, should know the basics of the contract!
Being a Good Steward Monday, 1/28 (Week 4), 3:00pm - 4:30pm
This workshop/training is all about how to talk with your colleagues about our union. Regular one-on-one conversations with other GEs are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to building membership, strengthening peoples' involvement in and commitment to GTFF, and building the kind of solidarity that we need to thrive and kick butt as a union. This can be scary or intimidating -- but with a little training and practice, you will not only get good at it, you'll realize that it is both fun and rewarding to have real work conversations with people.
Union Conversations Wednesday, 1/30 (Week 4), 3:30pm - 5:00pm
This workshop/training focuses on how to be an effective steward. Stewards are the backbone of our union and a large, knowledgeable and engaged Stewards Council is essential to having a healthy, vibrant, democratic union! Having effective stewards is also critical to winning a strong contract, enforcing our rights and benefits, and strengthening our union. You don't have to be a steward to benefit from this workshop - everyone is welcome!
Solidarity with LA Teachers
On Monday, January 14th, members of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) will strike, absent a contract. Los Angeles educators are fighting for every child in the city to have a safe and welcoming place for learning, and against the austerity measures for public schools that the district’s superintendent continues to promote despite almost $2 billion in reserves.
Enough is enough. L.A. students and educators deserve better.
UTLA members are fighting for things that are sadly familiar: adequate funding for public schools, counselors and nurses, smaller class size, fair compensation, community schools. These are the same issues we face all across the country.
That’s why AFT-National is asking all locals and state affiliates to join this fight to fund our future. We must show solidarity with our colleagues in L.A. Indeed, from January 14th onward, we are all L.A.
Our previous VP for External Relations, Andrew "Al" Lebovitz, is unable to continue in this role for the remainder of the 2018-2019 academic year. If you--or someone you know--are interested in taking over the position, please contact the Executive Board at email@example.com. See below for information about the VP for External Relations position or visit GTFF's Bylaws, Article 4, Section 7.
"The duties of the Vice President for External Relations shall include the following:
(a) to serve as the ranking Delegate at the Lane County Central Labor Council;
(b) to serve as ranking Delegate at ESSN.
(c) to Chair the External Relations Committee;
(d) In conjunction with Vice President for Organizing assist with the organization of other graduate employee unions; (e) to be responsible, in conjunction with the President, for originating correspondence between the GTFF and its affiliate organizations or other external organizations (not including the University or its agents), and; (f) to assist the Vice President for Political Education in establishing and maintaining contact with external political organizations."
The VP for External Relations also sits on the Communications Committee and the Contract Action Team during bargaining cycles.
We hope to fill this position soon!
The Bargaining Committee, Contract Action Team, and all of our membership have been hard at work! The second Bargaining Session had a great turnout, and the BC did an awesome job at the negotiation table. See below for highlights from the
Second Bargaining Session (12/7/18)
GTFF Members showed up!
More than 100 GTFF Members packed the room
Most who came stayed for the majority of the session
Ground rules were finalized
GTFF's Bargaining Committee presented the last of its 55 proposals, including
Updating what data UO is required to provide GTFF
Clarifying language regarding discipline and discharge as it pertains to the dual role of student and employee (especially important for GEs in laboratory settings)
Augmenting cultural competency training
Improving workspace conditions and expanding access protections
Adding GE positions to provide spaces for underrepresented GE voices (e.g., Disability Access GE, International GE, LGBTQIA+ GE, Mental Health Support GE, Sexual Assault Survivor GE)
UO's bargaining team attempted to change the agreed-upon bargaining style
"Interest-based bargaining" was suggested by UO over the summer
After GTFF said no, the bargaining teams agreed to use "positional bargaining," as has been used in the past
A change to interest-based bargaining would decrease GTFF's negotiating power and could push the bargaining timeline back
GTFF's Bargaining Committee declined this attempt
UO's team may bring it up again in the future
A timeline for Winter Term was established
Third Bargaining Session scheduled for Friday, 1/18 from 11:00am to 3:00pm
Deadline for counterproposals is Friday, 2/1
Bargaining sessions will occur twice per month during the Winter Term
"The University agrees to fund one 0.49 FTE GE position to work on family issues. The GTFF and the University will determine the job description and the duties for this GE position. To gather information on GTFF needs and available child care subsidies, the person in this position will represent the GTFF on the University’s Child Care and Family Support Committee. The person in this position will report quarterly to the President of the GTFF and the Dean of the Graduate School."
The rights and privileges of GEs at UO are fought for and won through bargaining! In order to best represent our members, we need input from everyone, including you!
Greetings from the Family Issues GE in the Graduate School!
If you know me, hello old friend. If not, the Family GE position is mandated in the GTFF contract and housed in the Graduate School, so I work for YOU – on both counts!
Primarily, I am a resource and support person for grad students with families. I have an office in the Graduate School in Susan Campbell Hall. We organize and sponsor family events, assist with questions, and work with the GTFF on family issues. Be sure to sign up for my listserv and join my Facebook page so you don’t miss any announcements, specific dates, and RSVP links.
We are super excited to announce NEW some upcoming events for grad families this term:
Movie Night – Mary Poppins (The Original): January 24th, 6:00pm
Grad Partners Happy Hour: alternating Wednesdays and Fridays (various locations)
PJ Storytime at the Grad School: date TBA, 6:00pm
PAAWS De-stress with Dogs: February 27th, 1:00pm–2:30pm
Raptor Center: date and time TBA
As always, I welcome input, feedback, suggestions, and introductions.
AFT-OR 2018 Scholarships and Awards
(Nomination deadline: January 31, 2019)
Shirley J. Gold Scholarship
The Shirley J. Gold Scholarship of $1,500, awarded to an AFT-Oregon member who is pursuing higher education at an accredited higher education institution.
Carl J. Megel Scholarship
The Carl J. Megel Scholarship of $1,500 will be awarded to an AFT-Oregon member’s child or grandchild who is graduating from high school and is enrolling in an accredited higher education institution.
Albert F. Shanker Scholarship
The Albert F. Shanker Scholarship of $1,500, awarded to an AFT-Oregon member’s child or grandchild who is already attending an accredited higher education institution.
Deirdre Mackey and Grace Misztal Scholarships
Two $1,500 Scholarships for Post-Secondary Education. One awarded to members and the other available to a member’s dependent who are members of a marginalized community and/or demonstrate that their studies will work to advance the cause of social justice and the ending of discrimination. Click here to read more about Deirdre and Grace.
John Connor Memorial Award
This award recognizes an individual member who exhibits the selfless, spirited enthusiasm and devotion to causes of the union which serve as an inspiration to fellow activists. These qualities were demonstrated in John Connor, a member of Local 2277 (PCCFFAP) and an active political action volunteer.
Outstanding Contribution to Public Awareness
This award is open to any resident of Oregon, including AFT-Oregon members. This award recognizes an individual in Oregon who has contributed to the public’s general awareness or who has raised the level of public debate in furtherance of the goals of AFT-Oregon in matters of education, health, public services, labor or other current issues of importance to the membership.