Today OSU and CGE’s bargaining teams met to exchange initial proposals on the key economic subjects of negotiations: fees, salary, and health insurance. We entered the session quite anxious to see what OSU would offer. At the previous session, their lead negotiator warned us that what they might bring could be “shocking and upsetting.”

While we were shocked, we were not upset with what OSU offered. They are starting out with a proposal to increase summer health insurance coverage to 85%, cover the same percentage during family or medical leave periods of up to 3 months, and modestly increase the minimum salary to $3350 from the current rate of $3000 (monthly rate at 1.0 FTE). Most impressively, OSU indicated that they were interested in covering 85% of the mandatory fees and 100% of the matriculation and international student orientation fees.

We came to the table today asking for 100% of all fees to be covered, an increase in the minimum salary to the graduate school’s recommended minimum of $3543, coverage of summer and leave health insurance at 85%, and 50% coverage of dependent and partner health insurance. Although there are significant differences between the two proposals, with the exception of dependent health insurance, the actual costs of both proposals were pretty similar suggesting we may be close to a mutually agreeable compromise.

During a caucus following the proposal exchange, CGE’s bargaining team and members there to observe the session quickly agreed upon a counter proposal. Although we remain committed to having all fees covered by OSU, we recognize 85% coverage as a significant change both financially (grads would only be responsible for about $76/term in fees) and structurally (no more taxed differential that does not respond to any increases in fees). We had the same proposals as OSU on employee health insurance benefits. We were already open to the idea of a staged increase in the minimum salary, and quickly developed a counter proposal that we could agree to raising the minimum salary to $3350 this fall if it also increased 3% every year for the next three years (bringing the minimum to our proposed $3543 by Fall 2014). Our biggest difference remains in the dependent health insurance where we still want to see some sort of new benefit.

We made our position clear with OSU, offering a significant compromise in our position on fees and minimum salary in recognition of the movement they are making, but also made it clear we want to see some sort of coverage with dependent health insurance. OSU seemed receptive to our response and hopes to come back to the table tomorrow with a response from OSU’s administration.

That’s right, tomorrow. We are bargaining again from 12-2pm in Westminster House Thursday June 7. Please try to come by and see if we really can come to an agreement on the economic contract matters!

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