UO is sending a message: They don’t care about ALL grad workers.

Our August 31 negotiation session was… spicy! While UO’s team did agree to several of our proposals from our last session, these wins were overshadowed by UO’s failures to prioritize equity on several different fronts. For one thing, they didn’t bring counters on our International GE and Caregiving Support articles, which have been in their court for 132 and 114 days, respectively. For another, their comments at the table indicated that they’re not interested in holding supervisors accountable for misgendering GEs, or in recognizing ADA accommodations as an urgent matter. In the #bargaining Slack channel, one of our members captured the audience’s mood: “Do they really think that making their last public impression on us ‘we don’t care about you’ is going to scare us?” 

We’re not scared, and we’re not going to let UO weasel their way out of accountability when what’s at stake is the basic dignity that everyone deserves. Our co-lead negotiator Emalydia put it bluntly at the table: “I’m sorry. That’s not okay.”

Here are the details:

  • Article 8 (Nondiscrimination & Anti-Harassment)
    • Good news: UO accepted our addition of caste, citizenship and pregnancy-related conditions to the list of protected categories.
    • Our bargaining team had proposed language that, “Persistent, ongoing refusal or failure by supervising university employees to accurately adhere to a GE’s chosen gendered language constitutes gender-based discrimination.” UO struck this language, arguing that there are legal limitations and that requiring a supervisor to use a GEs pronouns could go against their religious beliefs. This response is quite telling. 
  • Article 9 (Work Agreement/Work Assignment)
    • UO has moved closer to our proposed timeline for notifying GEs of available teaching assignments; however, they still believe that being given 2 weeks notice for your actual teaching assignment is enough time to prepare for a class. 
    • Amid a long-running debate over workload allocation forms, they’re also still refusing to acknowledge the simple fact that increasing the number of students in a course means more work for the GE teaching it.
  • Article 10 (Health, Safety, and Work Environment)
    • UO continues to assert that it’s okay for GEs who need ADA accommodations to work without them by refusing to commit to a concrete timeline for beginning the interactive process of establishing accommodations. 
  • Equitable Housing Letter of Agreement
    • While UO has agreed to participate in a committee to investigate the university’s impact on housing, weaseling out of accountability seemed to be the theme of the day. We proposed that the work this committee completes would be made public. UO struck this language.   
  • Article 30 (Graduate Assistance Fund)
    • In related news, we brought back a counter that has nearly all agreed upon language, except for the fact that we re-asserted our position that GEs should be able to use the Grad Assistance Fund if they’ve been unexpectedly removed from their housing unrelated to a lease violation. We hope UO agrees to this in their next counter so we can add this article to our TA pile. 

UO reiterated some of the same positions they’ve been stuck on for a while in their counters related to student fees and external funding. We also passed counters with less substantive changes for Article 24 (Health Insurance), Article 25 (Respectful Workplace & Support Services), and our new Expense Reimbursement article. As always, you can read updated copies of all the proposals on our Trello board.

What happens next? 

Our next bargaining session is September 14 from 2-5pm in McKenzie 221. We’ll see you there! Since we requested mediation last week, our first session with a mediator has also been scheduled for October 4. We’ll have updates soon about exactly what participating in that session will look like for members. In the meantime, keep talking with your fellow GEs—the only way for us to win this contract is together!