CGE met with the university for the ninth bargaining session last Friday, June 11th, at 2 PM in the Memorial Union Council Room.
At the end of the previous session, the university’s team had told us to ‘tell us what you need,’ so our proposal was designed to do just that.
Article 12 – Waivers
The State Board of Higher Education, we understand, has voted to eliminate the Registration, Technology and Engineering fees starting next year. In addition to that, CGE proposed that the Health and Building fees, along with any remaining program-specific fees, be rolled in to tuition. If this happens, the team is OK with the university’s proposal to eliminate the $300/term in fee relief. However, without all of the above fees disappearing, the loss of the $300 would result in a net loss to grads on fees. The membership has made clear on several occasions that fee relief is the most important thing for CGE to work on.
When CGE proposed fee relief, the university’s response was to barely acknowledge that we had proposed it and move on quickly. It’s likely this is going to be a major point of contention and that the university simply didn’t want to engage with 25 observers in the room.
Article 11 – Salary
One point of agreement between CGE and the university has been the worthiness of increasing the minimum salary. CGE’s initial proposal contained an immediate minimum salary increase that the university has since proposed as well. In addition, CGE proposed an additional increase to the minimum that would take effect for the 2011-2012 year. Our best guess is that the first minimum increase would affect the bottom 20%, and that the second could affect the bottom third. Individuals in the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Science would be the most affected.
Article 11 – Workload
In general, CGE is pursuing better contract language around workload limits, so that it is less likely for grads, especially GTAs, to be overworked. We’re also hoping to provide increased contract protections for what happens when grads do exceed their hours. The CGE team and the university’s team have gone back and forth about this at some length during bargaining, and we feel we’re getting pretty close to an agreement. This doc file has a little more info about what we’re proposing and why.
Article 28 – Insurance
CGE proposed that any grad who is employed have 100% of their monthly premium covered, and that grads who take the summer insurance option have 85% of the monthly premium covered, up from the current 85% employed and 50% summer unemployed coverage. The university’s only response to this was to suggest that since they increased premium coverage two years ago, they could not do so again so soon.
This goes on for a bit, so bear with me: The university had been telling us for a few sessions that our proposals around advertising certain open GTA positions were unworkable, and had suggested multiple times that we should be content with seeing the positions advertised in OSU Today. We had proposed just that, only to be told that no one in the university had the authority to compel departments to send job postings to OSU Today by the same person who told us it would be a good idea. Then the university, as part of a proposal to us, proposed that HR would send notice once per year to units that they should send job postings to OSU Today. So at the most recent session, CGE proposed just that – we even went so far as to take the language verbatim from their previous proposal and insert into our own.
Predictably, the university said they couldn’t agree to it. Graciously, they allowed that they made a mistake when proposing that language in the first place.
One thing that was different from previous sessions was that the university chose not to play the “we have no money” card. While CGE is aware of the state economic forecast and of the overall OSU budget, we are also aware OSU is investing at least $11 million in new infrastructure and potentially a few million more in faculty salaries; because of the new investments, we know the financial situation is more complicated than it might first appear.
Overall, the university had asked us what grads needed, so the CGE team crafted a proposal to answer that question. When we presented it, the response we were given was a mix of “we won’t” and “we can’t,” with no significant explanation given for either answer. It’s again disappointing, but not surprising.
The administration team let us know that they would counter our proposal with a complete package at the next session on Friday, June 18, from 2-4:00 pm in the Westminster House. Their behavior at this past meeting suggested that they plan to do very little to address the needs we brought forth there. In particular, their coming counterproposal will likely leave in place the ~$185 net loss of fee relief for most grads. The CGE bargaining team will make it clear that we (and you) won’t agree to a contract that wipes out fee relief, but we’ll be much more credible in doing so if you show up to support us, so if you’re around for the summer, please come out to Westminster on Friday.