UO’s flashy salary offer won’t meet our needs. Here’s why.

Before we dive in to the recap of our November 20 bargaining session, we wanted to take a moment to express our gratitude for all of the work members have been putting into our contract campaign. Whether you’ve been showing up to our General Membership Meetings, participating in our actions or checking in with your colleagues about their needs—it all MATTERS. Although we still have a ways to go, we have made tremendous progress toward a dignified standard of living for all GEs. We could not have accomplished any of this at the table alone. So, thank you for backing us up at the table and making UO’s team sweat during negotiation sessions (we just wish you could still be in the room to see it).  

GEs and allies filled the lobby of Johnson Hall at a sit-in on Monday, November 20.

At Monday’s session, we responded to UO’s most recent salary offer. UO had framed this as a very enticing deal, but it doesn’t address all our members’ needs. (More on this below.)  As we told them, “We are not going to be trading recruitment for retention. That’s a mandate from our membership.”

Meanwhile, since we’re still so far apart on salary, we presented a package aimed at getting everything else off the table. Here are some of the highlights of that package. As usual, you can find all the details on our Trello board

Highlights of our package:

  • Increase in university contribution to health insurance during the summer term. (Article 24)
  • Reduction in mandatory fees during summer to match the academic year fee of $61. (Article 19)
  • 4 weeks of unpaid leave in addition to the 12 weeks of paid leave now guaranteed through state law. (Article 29)
  • GEs who entered prior to this academic year, had at least 1 year of a GE appointment in a department outside their original hiring department, and had that counted against their guaranteed years of funding will have at least 1 year of funding returned to them by their original hiring department. (Article 17)

In order to make these asks and give UO more space to increase their salary offer, we had to concede on some of our previous asks such as $0 mandatory fees during the academic year, additional increase to minimum FTE, and financial penalties for late pay. However, these are proposals that can be addressed during the next bargaining cycle.

As a reminder, this package is a mediation proposal. We don’t know what the university is going to do next, but they seemed like they were interested in at least some of the elements in our proposed package.

So, what about UO’s proposed salary restructuring? And why did we turn it down?

The flashy salary offer UO made during the November 9 session showed high figures in year one, but it didn’t actually amount to much movement. UO’s offer would have reconfigured the overall structure of GE pay by bringing minimum salaries for GEs at different pay levels up to the same rate. This would mean big raises for GEs at Level I; however, GEs at Level II and III would receive dramatically lower raises. On top of this, UO did not increase their offer for across-the-board raises—re-asserting that 3.75% in year one and 2.75% years two and three of the contract were sufficient. In all of this re-configuring, UO added less than $1 million to their overall salary costs. 

In our first counteroffer on Monday, we showed UO what it would take for their proposed new structure to meet the needs of all our members, and let them know that we wouldn’t be interested in adopting this new structure otherwise. They countered our offer with numbers that did not meet these needs, so we let them know that we’ll continue to use the existing pay structure in our proposals going forward.