It’s been quite some time since we’ve posted an update on negotiations, partly because we’ve been so busy negotiating, preparing for negotiations, and taking action in support of negotiations, but none of that excuses us from keeping you loyal members up to date. With that in mind, here’s an update on all that’s been going on since we last wrote.

Since the last blog post, we’ve had several sessions in which we’ve gone back and forth with the administration exchanging package proposals. For a while we were at somewhat of a deadlock, with us trying to convince the administration that our biggest concern right now is making increases in our take-home pay over the life of the new contract, and the administration sticking to their proposal of a $50 increase to the once-per-term differential and a 75% contribution to health insurance over the summer months for grad employees who worked for all three terms of the preceding academic year and were “reasonably assured” of having an assistantship for the following fall term.

One of our main concerns with that proposal was that it could have actually resulted in a net decrease in take-home pay for some grads, and we spent nearly an entire bargaining session trying to point out that fact to the administration. Finally, they got that message, and in the last session, they put forth a proposal that approaches being to our liking.

Specifically, their last proposal involved increasing the employer’s health care contribution to 85% during the academic year and offering a 50% health care contribution over the summer months to any grad who was on assistantship for at least one term in the preceding academic year. All of the complicated criteria a grad would have had to have met to qualify for a contribution to summer health care under administration’s old proposals were eliminated, and summer insurance was made optional. In addition, the new proposal maintained the administration’s offer to increase the once-per-term differential to $300. They also conceded on many important non-economic issues.

However, we still have two major issues with this new proposal. The first lies in the fact that it is a one-year proposal, or, in other words, all the money in this proposal comes in the first year, with no way to make up for inflation and the rising costs of fees and health care in the coming years. Second, and more important, is the fact that this proposal still does not contain a provision for fair-share.

Thus, in the coming bargaining sessions, we will seek to increase the administration’s financial offer, especially after the first year of the contract, and we will continue fighting for fair-share. We still will not settle on a contract without it.

The next session is scheduled for Thursday, August 14, from 9 am to 12 noon in the Westminster House (where the CGE office is, on the corner of 23rd and Monroe). After this session, the 150 day bargaining calendar will expire, which means that the parties can choose to enter into mediation if they feel it necessary to do so. However, both teams have expressed a desire to settle on a contract without mediation, so it is likely that more sessions will be scheduled after the 14th if we don’t reach a settlement on that date (which we probably won’t do).

Still, come out and observe the negotiations on the 14th, where we will likely respond to the administration’s latest proposal. It seems as though we are getting closer to the end of this ordeal, so we can use all the support we can get.

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