Yesterday afternoon, the management of Oregon State and the Coalition of Graduate Employees laid out the their visions of the future. They are markedly different.

The CGE has a three-pronged approach to increasing every graduate employee’s total compensation:

  1. Wage increases every year of the collective bargaining agreement for both the minimum salary and for every graduate employee based on their years of service.
  2. A full fee waiver for every graduate employee.
  3. Increasing OSU contribution to health insurance from 75% for the individual premium to 100% of the individual premium and 50% of domestic partner and family premiums. The OSU contribution would also be extended to include summer term.

To reiterate, CGE wants every employee with more money in their pocket. We want larger paychecks through raises, through an end to fees, and through a larger employer contribution to health insurance. By extending the employer contribution to health insurance, we want to increase graduate employees’ ability to take care of their families. By increasing OSU’s contribution on individual premiums from 75% to 100%, we are also preventing de facto wage cuts when premiums go up.

Management’s proposals on these three issues are dismal. They proposed eliminating any kind of a minimum salary, no raises and completely killing the $750 per year fee relief. That’s around a month’s rent, utilities and groceries. They think the current health insurance plan doesn’t need any improvement and didn’t really have any comment our proposed changes. Apparently the administration  doesn’t foresee any insurance premium increases. I do, and I see them as wage cuts. So, the adminstration’s position can be summed up as less pay for getting better at our jobs.

We went over several other issues. Highlights include:

  • New parents should be able to spend time with their baby when it’s born and everyone should be able to take time away off from work to care for a sick family member. CGE wants to ensure this by extending the rights of the federal Family Medical Leave Act and Oregon Family Leave Act to all graduate employees.
  • CGE wants to make sure every graduate employee is offered a job in a timely manner and that adequate preparation time is a included a job offer. The administration seemed confused as to why graduate employees would want to have time to review textbooks, plan a course outline and write a syllabus before the first day of class.
  • When we proposed fee relief, one administrator posed the following: A graduate employee and an undergraduate student are both in a course that charges a resource fee. The administrator asked if it’s fair for a graduate employee to have the resource fee waived while the undergraduate student paid the fee. Of course it’s fair: It’s as fair as the graduate employee having their tuition for the course waived.
  • Administration claims no control, at all, over fees, which is false. ASOSU incidental fees are approved by Ed Ray, the university president. All other fees are set by the administration.
  • The administration proposed eliminating international graduate students’ rights to take time off to go to their local consulates and vote when their native country holds an election. That proposal is… dumb.
  • CGE wants to fix the travel reimbursement system for graduate employees. By and large, we don’t have the discretionary income that professors and administrators have to float a few hundred dollars for airfare, hotel rooms, and, when needed, rental cars. Administration thinks the current system can’t be improved.
  • CGE proposed doubling, from 20 to 40, the number of faculty parking passes available to graduate employees. Administration seems to think we have too many passes.

That’s mostly what we discussed. Use the comments for more discussion.

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