At a rally today for SEIU Local 503, GTFF President David Craig delivered the following statement of solidarity:
Faculty and GTFs at the University of Oregon, immersed as they often are in their research and their teaching, can all too often forget that that research and that teaching is only possible because there are personnel on campus who keep our departments, institutes, classrooms, and buildings in operation. These personnel are the classified staff and the accomplishments that faculty and GTFs at the University of Oregon pride themselves on would simply not be possibly without them.
Beyond this fact that classified staff make possible research and teaching at the university, though, is the fact that they are workers, and in this their contribution becomes something broader—dare I say something more universal. For, from this vantage, it becomes apparent that faculty, GTFs, and classified staff at the university work together, alongside one another, to produce an environment of higher education that, at its best, we can all be proud of. And in this working together there is something dignified, something worth defending and articulating and fighting for in the face of a university administration that precisely does not work to create this higher education environment in the same way. For, at risk of oversimplification, while that administration administers this environment as something owned, something to be profited from, we workers—classified staff, GTFs, and faculty alike—work to make it the intrinsically valuable and publicly good thing that, at its best, it is.
Hence I suggest that, at least on this occasion, we suspend the thought that we are employees of the university and instead think of ourselves as workers at the university. Shifting our view thus, the struggle faced by SEIU today as they bargain with the Oregon University System becomes a workers’ struggle—a struggle that is most definitely ours, as well. The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, which represents some 1400 GTFs at the University of Oregon, stands in complete and unequivocal solidarity with SEIU and the classified staff at the University of Oregon at this critical moment in their bargaining cycle.