Tentative agreement reached on an historic contract

Strike plans will halt while members vote on ratification.

Dear Fellow Graduate Employees,

We are excited to announce that this afternoon, we reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) with the University of Oregon on a new 3-year contract. We believe that this contract will enable our members to live with dignity in the Eugene area, and will benefit GEs at the UO for years to come by bringing up the salary floor of our entire bargaining unit.

Although this TA halts our strike plans, it is a testament to the enormous amount of energy, preparation, and passion that our members have devoted to building a credible strike threat. Our members put all of their power into this fight, and we won.

As you know, we told UO last week that they needed to bring us a deal by January 11 to avoid a strike. UO came back late Thursday night with an offer that we brought to our members during our Friday night General Membership Meeting, attended by over 550 GEs. Through polls and an open forum, members at the GMM expressed that we weren’t yet ready to take UO’s deal from last Thursday. Per the GMM, the biggest priorities were to negotiate retroactive pay to September 2023 and to get higher percentage raises in Years 2-3. We scheduled a short virtual bargaining session this morning to give the UO one last offer that reflected our members’ priorities, ahead of the planned January 17 strike.

We did not expect the UO to negotiate back and forth with us today, but they surprised us by bringing a counter that met the priorities identified by our members at the last GMM. The deal we secured today will bring the minimum salary of all graduate employees at 0.49 FTE up to $2,550 a month in the first year. The cumulative increases of GE salaries range from 18.98 percent to 45.32 percent over the life of the 3-year contract, depending on GE level and rate:

“Across the Board” Salary Raises:

  • Rates below $50k for 1.0 FTE 9-mo: Year 1 (10%), Year 2 (4%), Year 3 (4%)
  • Rates above $50K for 1.0 FTE 9-mo: Year 1 (4%), Year 2 (4%), Year 3 (4%)

Minimum GE Salary Raises:

  • GE Level 1: 31.81% (Year 1), 5% (Year 2), 5% (Year 3)
  • GE Level 2: 16.68% (Year 1), 5% (Year 2), 5% (Year 3)
  • GE Level 3: 10.5% (Year 1), 5% (Year 2), 5% (Year 3)

Importantly, the UO agreed to our demand that these raises must be retroactively applied to September 2023. (Prior to these new contract raises, in 2023, our Health & Welfare Trust negotiated an insurance renewal deal with savings that translated into permanent 1.475% raise to the minimum GE salary.) We also TA’d a final LOA on Inter-Departmental Funding that will provide a new petition process for eligible GEs who apply. Click here to see the TA’d articles on our Trello board.

Though salary has been the last thing on the table, we also want to highlight the additional wins we’ve accomplished over the last 10 months of bargaining. Our union has won new targeted support for caregivers (including improved childcare resources) and international GEs (including visa fees, tax software, housing resources, and more). Additionally, our new contract language includes improved anti-discrimination protections for caste, citizenship, and gender identity; 4 weeks of additional Family/Medical Leave; expanded Graduate Hardship Funds and qualifying events; and the university will increase its contribution to GE health insurance premiums and decrease fees in the summer months. For a full summary of all our wins, article-by-article, click here to see our Bargaining Wins guide.

We will be holding a GMM later this week (date to be announced) to walk through the complete Tentative Agreement with our members and to initiate the ratification vote process. GTFF members in good standing can participate in the contract ratification process. The ratification vote will be conducted over email and will be open for at least 1 week.

We are proud to know that the collective strength our members built over the last 10 months of bargaining has created such immense pressure that we were able to win a truly transformative deal at the table. We hope and expect that our members will be eager to ratify this historic contract, and we look forward to continuing to fight for worker power on our campus–as well as celebrating the powerful changes we have pushed forward at this institution already.

In solidarity,

The GTFF Bargaining Team