OSU claims that certain GRAs and GTAs aren’t employees

“The University is drawing an arbitrary line between TAs and RAs on this campus. We all work hard and add tremendous value to this campus. We all deserve to be recognized for the work that we do.” — Wren Keturi, GTA in Women Studies

“If I am not an employee, then why do I get paid to come here and work?” — Elizabeth Hardardt, GRA in Pharmacy

“This is fundamentally unfair. Any university that strives to be a great research institution needs an established army of effective research assistants. The decision to minimize our work and our contribution will harm not only me but also the institution.” — Daniel Ritter, GRA in Agricultural and Resource Economics

May 1 was the deadline for OSU to legally object to our petition for union representation. During our postcard delivery, Mark McCambridge, VP of Finance and Administration for OSU, agreed that GRAs do valuable work for OSU but said that the University would file objections to seek “clarification” on certain points.  The objections we received later that day from OSU’s Portland-based law firm seek more than clarification; the intent of their objections is to terminate our right to choose union representation. For the first time, the University is claiming that those of us who have been excluded from the CGE bargaining unit are not OSU employees. By claiming that we are not employees, the University insinuates that it does not benefit from our work. The objections state:

“The individuals in the unrepresented group of graduate assistants that the Union seeks to add to its current bargaining unit are not employees.”

“It is the individual, not the institution, who receives the primary benefit of such efforts [research or teaching done by
the unrepresented graduate assistants].”

As researchers, teachers, and professionals, many of us find OSU’s claims to be not only false but disrespectful. Work done by graduate employees is fundamental to the success of OSU, and work done by GRAs contributes directly to OSU’s stated mission of excellence in research. Rather than minimizing our contributions, it seems only fair for our employer to respect our right to choose union representation through a democratic process. Although OSU indicated it would respect the process and the right of graduate employees to determine for themselves whether they want to be in the CGE bargaining unit, the University has now taken quiet legal action that attempts to disenfranchise graduate employees.

The Employment Relations Board (ERB) will hold a hearing on May 31 and June 5 to determine whether to accept or reject OSU’s arguments. To move forward with the certification of our union, the ERB must find that we are employees.


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