After a three-week hiatus, CGE met with the university’s bargaining team to hear them present a comprehensive proposal. This was the first time the university had made a comprehensive proposal.
Incidentally, this followed on the heels of an open letter in the Barometer from CGE supporters that include the classified staff, SEIU, and ASOSU, the student government, as well as CGE members handing out fliers to OSU faculty and staff about bargaining the day before.
Without mincing words, the university’s proposal was completely unacceptable to the bargaining team. The essential parts of their proposal are as follows: Cutting the $300/term in fee relief, no change to health insurance, and an increase in the minimum salary to match the Graduate School’s recommended minimum. (The minimum increase is take from CGE’s initial proposal.)
As well, the university let us know that the Oregon University System is rolling the Technology and Registration fees into tuition starting next year, along with the Engineering Fee. This is a huge positive change for engineers, and will result in about $116/term less in fees for all graduate employees. However, this is something that is happening outside of bargaining. It was not actually part of the university’s proposal.
On the whole, the university’s first comprehensive proposal is very regressive for almost everyone. For people at the bottom, the increase in salary could be a good thing depending on FTE; many grads in the College of Engineering are paid well and will see a huge cut in their fees. However, for the vast majority of graduate employees, the university’s proposal would result in a significant cut. The CGE bargaining team’s initial estimate is that it would be a cut of about $800,000 per year across all graduate employees.
On top of the highly regressive proposal, the university’s team managed to contradict themselves multiple times:
When they first presented their proposal, they told CGE that the increases they proposed were designed to offset the cut in the $300; however, after we asked them about it again, they told us it was never designed to totally offset the cuts. This is in addition to having been clearly told at the beginning of bargaining that the intent of the OSU proposal was to keep the amount of money going to graduate employees the same, but to redistribute it away from fee relief.
The second contradiction occurred when OSU’s lead negotiator first stated that we needed to move quickly, and that they could bring in relevant university officials to answer questions about how specific proposals would impact different units as a way to help move bargaining along; just a few minutes later, we were told that conversations take time, and that we needed to understand that.
The third contradiction was when the university’s team told the CGE team that it was necessary for grads to take cuts in almost the same breath that they told us that some departments are giving 4% raises to their grads.
The fourth contradiction came when the CGE team asked the university to bring the cost estimates they had done and the university refused on the grounds that both sides were working from the same data. Later in the session, the university’s team told the CGE team that the numbers had changed from those we had shown the university at the beginning of bargaining – i.e. those same numbers the university claimed they were using and that they claimed would be good enough for CGE to use.
It appears that the university’s team is willing to say whatever they think will help them without regard to the truth or consistency with previous statements. This lack of respect shown the CGE bargaining team has been disappointing, if not surprising.
The CGE team will look at the proposal provided by the university and have a response prepared for the next bargaining session, which is on Friday, June 11th at 2 PM in the Memorial Union Council Room.