Dr. Emily Plec, a member of the State Board of Higher Education, sent the GTFF this letter of support today. The Board of Trustees took over running the University of Oregon from the State Board in June. Kurt Willcox, a member of the Board of Trustees, told us last night that no official communications about GTFF bargaining and the strike have been made to the Board by its chair, Chuck Lillis. The State Board of Higher Education certainly knows what is going on. Why does the Board of Trustees not know? Would we be strike if they still oversaw how the University of Oregon runs?
I am writing to express my support for the members of GTFF who have made the painful and difficult decision to strike in response to the UO administration’s declaration of impasse. As a union member and former president of WOUFT, I understand the anxiety and frustration you are feeling, having been a mere weekend away from the same action on my own campus some years ago. I also know how dedicated you are to the students you teach and the faculty members you assist in UO courses, which makes a strike an even stronger statement since it is not a decision any union makes lightly. I hope that your students and faculty colleagues recognize and support your choice to take a stand on the treatment of graduate employees.
Finally, as a director on the State Board of Higher Education, I am aware of the financial status of the University of Oregon (which is, of course, no longer governed by the SBHE) as well as the degree to which the institution depends on the labor of graduate students to meet undergraduate and research needs. I am hopeful that recognition of the latter — with the heightened awareness and sensitivity that a strike brings — will encourage the administration to move to settle a contract and provide you with the job security and cost-of-living adjustments to which all workers should be entitled.
Western Oregon University