The audience of more than 65 GEs and allies walked out of our bargaining session on August 3 in response to a pitiful salary offer from UO. The university’s team had held on to our last counteroffer for 75 days, yet their long-awaited proposal offered merely a 2 percent raise to current GEs making above the minimum salary, in addition to the 4 percent raise to minimum salaries they had originally proposed. Even more insulting, UO presented these numbers after hearing testimony from 9 different GEs describing how they struggle to survive on our current salaries, as well as a data presentation confirming that UO lags far behind its peer institutions. As our bargaining team member Ben stated, “The GEs here are going to be looking at this and wondering, ‘Why does UO value us so much less than everyone else?’”
Here’s what else happened:
- For the first time in decades, UO agreed to raise the minimum FTE from .2 to .25. This is a small step toward getting our lowest earners paid more and reducing some cases of overwork.
- UO struck our language which would increase our salaries if the average rent in Eugene/Springfield increases more than 5%. Did they not hear our testimonies?
- UO stated that due to “administrative challenges” in the payroll office, they’re unable to pay us bi-weekly (rather than monthly) or allow GEs to opt in to having our salary paid out across 12 months instead of 9 months.
- In 2023, at a research 1 university, UO still argues that they can’t commit to implementing reliable wireless internet across campus.
- Good News: UO has agreed to improve conditions of lactation spaces and protections for those nursing. They also agreed to making information about the amenities in lactation spaces more accessible.
- Although they’ve agreed to improve portions of the ADA accommodation process, UO still refuses to commit to a timeline for responding to GEs’ accommodation requests. Although they’ve agreed to improve portions of the ADA accommodation process, UO still refuses to commit to a timeline for responding to GEs’ accommodation requests.
- Good News: UO agrees that GEs should have the process for evaluative observations in our GDRS and that GEs should be given a reasonable timeframe to make improvements before further disciplinary steps are taken. We’ll most likely tentatively agree (TA) this article at our next session.
- We’re still working through language that would protect GEs who are outside of the U.S. and are unable to return to work because of their immigration status or reasons outside of their control. UO has agreed to much of our language, but still balks at committing to make “reasonable efforts to re-employ the GE as soon as possible after that person obtains work authorization or immigration status that lawfully permits them to work as a GE.” We believe this is a low bar to clear—they seem to disagree.
- Apparently UO’s promise to not come after our health insurance also means they have no intention of making it better for most of our GEs.
- UO has continued to reiterate that they don’t believe they should have to increase their financial contribution for our health insurance administration despite rising costs, in part due to inflation.
- UO has continued to assert that GEs who do not have summer appointments (i.e. a large portion of our membership) should continue to pay 15 percent more for health insurance premiums during the summer than during the school year.
- We’ll most likely tentatively agree (TA) Appendix L, which will address the issue of auto-enrollment for international GEs University’s International Student insurance plan (SHBP).
- Good News: UO has agreed to increase the amount of money they will replenish the fund with if the total funds in the reserve drops below $25,000. This means more available funds for those experiencing financial hardship related to a qualifying event.
As always, you can read the full text of the proposals and see how they are changing on our Trello board.
Our next bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday, August 24, 2–5pm in McKenzie 221. Our bargaining team will be bringing several counters back to the table including salary, so stay tuned for more details.
We’re now at the point of the bargaining process where either side can call for mediation. If that happens, bargaining session meeting times and format may change. However, our need for members to show up ready to apply pressure will not. We need everyone to keep showing up, participating, and talking with colleagues in the coming months. Be sure to keep your eyes out for various communications so you know when and how to plug in!