UO claims that as students, GEs should pay them

Negotiations at the June 2 bargaining session hit a wall when UO’s team brought back a counterproposal that would continue to require GEs to pay $61 per term in student fees. When GTFF pointed out that this requires us to pay our wages back to them, UO tried to separate our student and employee roles, claiming that fees don’t claw back wages because they “thought people were here to get an education.”  It’s a classic tactic used by universities against GEs that both misses the point and devalues the sacrifices that GEs make to pursue our research. We take pride in the work we do as employees and as students—but where exactly does UO think we get the money to pay student fees? There seemed to be an unspoken assumption from some members of UO’s team that GEs have access to funds other than our salaries to support our studies—and if the university truly wants to recruit students from all financial backgrounds, that assumption has to go. 

If you weren’t able to attend, here are some of the other highlights:

  • GTFF presented our new article designed to protect GEs from unreasonable reimbursement delays.
  • We also presented our Letter of Agreement on equitable housing, in which we’re asking the university to work with us toward addressing Eugene’s affordable housing crisis. As our co-lead negotiator Emalydia put it, “We really believe that because UO is one of the biggest employers in the city, a very prominent property owner and developer, the institution has the responsibility to address the impact of their actions.”
  • Our latest counterproposal on discrimination and harassment incorporates language from UO’s nondiscrimination policy while reinstating the suggestions that UO slashed at the last exchange. We wanted to address UO’s concern that “the language does not align with UO’s policy.” With that said, GTFF firmly believes that UO’s nondiscrimination policy requires updating. It’s also worth noting that the version of the article that’s in the current contract already contained language that is not present in UO’s policy.
  • We reached our first tentative agreement on data delivery (the process by which UO informs us of GE hires). The agreement will be signed at our next bargaining session on Friday, June 16.

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

Tensions mounted again at the end of the session when GTFF asked about the university’s plans to bring salary back to the table. It seems UO is still feeling slighted by our decision to stand firm at our initial proposal numbers—even though we’ve shown them, with GE testimonies and other data, why most of the movement needs to come from their side. We’re not backing down without some indication that UO understands where we’re coming from, and today’s session indicates that they still have a long way to go.