CGE met with the university last Friday, July 16th for the first bargaining session since June 11th. For those of you who are counting, that’s five weeks between sessions. We’d prefer to meet at least once every week.
We went into the session expecting to hear a full proposal from the university. Instead, we were informed that the university’s team didn’t have a full proposal ready for us, because they didn’t have enough time to get something ready. What was missing? Any mention of minimum salaries or fees, i.e. the two most important topics we are bargaining over.
As you might imagine, the bargaining team and observers were less than impressed, especially since there is zero evidence being offered at these sessions that the administration’s team is actually doing any work outside of the session itself. When we caucused, several observers made the point that grad employees recognize an unprepared student making excuses, and that’s exactly what the administration’s team sounded like.
When we returned from our caucus, we reiterated our disappointment with their apparent lack of effort. When we pointed out that five weeks was much longer than the normal time between sessions, and that we were disappointed in their team for not having a full proposal, we were told that their team is busy doing a lot of work on our behalf and that we just need to realize not only how hard they’re working on behalf of graduate employees, but also how hard they try to save jobs for classified staff, ‘many of whom are working full time and trying to support families’ – as if many graduate employees aren’t doing either of those things.
We then moved on to discussing workload issues, which the university was prepared to talk about. Unfortunately, despite the university agreeing that the proposal that we had made at the previous session was fine and just needed some tweaking, the university brought back the same language they had been proposing for the last four or five sessions, language that was completely different than what we had discussed and agreed upon at the previous session. (This is what we mean when we say it doesn’t appear the university’s team does any work outside sessions.)
After we expressed our disappointment that the administration apparently didn’t even look at their notes from the last session, we had a very productive exchange with them on specific language around hours worked per week and protections against overwork, and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to tentatively sign off on some language at the next session and lay workload to rest. That said, the unprofessionalism and apparent lack of effort on the part of the university’s team has been very disappointing.
The next session is scheduled for Friday, July 30th, at 2 PM somewhere in the Memorial Union. At that session, we have been told the university will present a proposal on economics, including fees and stipends. The observer turnout to the meeting on the 16th was truly impressive, considering the length between sessions and the fact that we’re dead in the middle of summer. In fact, we believe part of the administration’s willingness to engage us on specific language around workload issues at this session was driven by their desire not to look completely bad in front of lots of grad employees. We hope you all can come to the session on the 30th as well to keep holding the administration accountable.