On March 13 we had our first formal bargaining session with OSU. Unfortunately, we were all too busy with finals to get this update to you until now.
At this meeting both CGE and OSU laid out which parts of the contract they hoped to address. CGE’s bargaining team laid out all of the articles of the contract we would like to open and listed out the key interests we hoped to address by opening each part. These interests have been summarized in our bargaining platform’s three key points: (1) increase compensation for graduate employees to keep pace with the cost of living in Corvallis and keeping OSU competitive; (2) making changes to the contract language that are clear and protect graduate employees across campus; and (3) promoting equity and accessibility of graduate employment at OSU.
Before getting to the contract itself, we explained to OSU’s team that a majority of non-bargaining unit Graduate Employees (mostly RAs) have signed authorization cards asking CGE to bargain on their behalf. While OSU reiterated that they view this as a permissive subject of bargaining, we made it clear that we believe this is a clear mandate from unrepresented graduate employees, and we would hope that OSU would respect the decision made by RAs and voluntarily recognize a combined bargaining unit of RAs and TAs without stalling the process with unnecessary legal appeals.
After clarifying this, we presented each of the issues we hope to address in our current contract. You can read a copy of the interests we presented. In future bargaining sessions, we will continue to advocate for the goals outlined in this document and bring more arguments as to why changes are both needed and reasonable for graduate employees.
OSU followed up by laying out a number of issues they hope to address as well. These include: limiting the number of articles that can be opened in the contract reopener after 2 years; clarifying contract language around employee release time for CGE business; reevaluating the frequency with which OSU provides CGE a lists of graduate employees; defining CGE’s access to OSU email accounts; advertising of non-academic unit appointments; clarifying what constitutes an appointment letter; better defining terms of employment to match the beginning and end of academic terms; reworking our evaluation language to fit the new online system OSU is starting; and incorporating language from the ecampus tuition waiver pilot program that we agreed to this January.
OSU also brought up an interest in changing the health insurance waiver process. Specifically, they are concerned about employees not completing waiver information in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, when OSU brought up the Letter of Agreement on the $300/term fee differential, they indicated that they wanted any discussion about wages, salaries, and fees, to be centered around the concept of “total compensation” including tuition waivers. They also believe that there is “an appropriate base rate of pay being offered.” While this is an improvement from two years ago when OSU initially suggested revoking the $300 fee differential, we certainly feel that OSU has a long way to go to keep wages and compensation both fair and competitive, especially considering the rapidly rising cost of living in Corvallis and secure financial situation of OSU. It appears we are going to have to impress upon the school that all graduate employees need a living wage, and we may need you to help carry that message to the administration in the future.
On a final positive note, OSU mentioned that the graduate school would like to present a Family-Medical Leave plan. We are excited to hear this proposal and are glad both parties see this as an important priority.
Plans for the next bargaining session are in the works, and we will post announcements here shortly. We are hoping to set up regular sessions Spring term on a weekly or biweekly basis. As usual, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments, or post to the comments section on this page.