UO, allow us to explain how bargaining works

Though GEs were excited to see that UO had finally brought counterproposals to our July 20 bargaining session, tension in the room ratcheted up each time the university’s team revealed a proposal that wasn’t the one we’d been waiting for: Article 22, GE salaries. When GTFF’s team finally asked where their proposal was, UO reiterated their assertion from the last session that our team is responsible for moving on salary, complaining that our decision to hold firm at our initial numbers—and more importantly, on a proposal that would raise wages for all GEs—was “not how bargaining works.” The irony is that UO’s refusal to make a counteroffer at all is actually what contravenes established procedure. As our co-lead negotiator Cy stated, “We are just trying to move forward by the norms of this process.”

If you couldn’t make it to the session, here’s the list of highlights:

  • Salary:
    • UO has STILL not presented a counter-proposal to our salary demands. This is completely unacceptable, and UO’s refusal to provide a counter offer shows that they are still not taking GE’s low wages (or the entire bargaining process!) seriously.
    • UO said they thought formally bringing their low salary proposal to the table again would only lead to “difficult” and “awkward” conversations. We are ready to have difficult conversations; that’s the whole point of bargaining. We urgently need far higher raises than 0%-4% and raises that cover ALL GEs. Comfortable conversations that don’t move bargaining forward won’t pay the rent.
  • External Funding:
    • UO continued to reiterate that a year of external funding (i.e. through GEing in another department or receiving external fellowships) will count as one of the allocated years of guaranteed funding by a GE’s department. We believe that GEs shouldn’t be punished for finding necessary streams of funding so that they can complete their degree. 
  • Work Assignments:
    • UO claimed they didn’t think it was common for GEs not to receive their teaching assignments in time for them to prepare for class. Multiple GEs laughed and raised their red flags. We’ve shared with UO’s team several times over the course of these negotiations that many departments have waited as late as a week before the term starts to notify GEs of their teaching assignments. This delay leads to financial uncertainty and an unrealistic time frame for GEs to prepare for their classes. GEs are being set up to fail if we aren’t given a reasonable amount of time to prepare for our class and deliver the “excellent education” UO claims to provide.
  • Health Insurance:
    • In response to GTFF expressing how central salary issues are for our GEs, UO’s team brought up their promise to not renegotiate our health insurance package during this bargaining cycle—as if it were an either/or scenario, and as if they were doing us some sort of favor. It isn’t, and they aren’t—GEs deserve BOTH comprehensive health care AND a living wage!

As always, you can see the full text of the proposals on our Trello board.

The roadblocks to making more progress on contract language that UO expressed were even more frustrating in light of the work that UO’s team has evidently put into researching how various departments would handle the procedures proposed by GTFF. We recognize their labor, and yet we’re struggling to understand why the university would go through all that trouble simply to revert the contract language to the status quo. Likewise, we’re glad to see movement around GE travel expenses, assistance and crisis funds–but it’s disheartening that the conditions making those funds necessary have not been addressed. Our negotiations so far have shown that progress is possible. UO’s refusal to find solutions is what’s holding us back. 

July 21, 2023: This post has been updated with additional information on negotiations over work assignments.