Here’s a double update from last Monday & Tuesday’s bargaining sessions.
Length of Appointment
A few sessions ago, we presented an interest in having year-long guarantees of appointment for all grads who are expected to remain students through an academic year. This would provide stability to graduate employment, and, in the case that employment fell through, at least guarantee the tuition waiver (because it would invoke the layoff language). OSU had some concerns about their ability to commit to year-long appointments, especially considering the uncertainties of grant funding and changing instructional needs. They committed to gathering information on when and why term-to-term appointments are made and also to looking into what their costs would be should the layoff language be invoked. At Monday’s session, they said they had the information, but still needed to analyze it. A few members of their team suggested that if we didn’t require a specific year-long appointment (e.g. an RA appointment at 0.40 FTE), but allowed for just a guarantee of employment (so FTE might be variable and TA/RA status may switch), it’s likely something the University could do. End of good news, as it were.
The majority of Monday’s session and all of Tuesday’s session were spent trying to deal with the issue of workload protections for grads funded to do research that also contributes to their academic progress. They have a number of legitimate concerns about how workload limits would be interpreted and enforced for such employees. We’ve tried to craft solutions that would address their concerns, including adding a provision that nothing in the workload section should be construed to limit the amount of work necessary to make sufficient academic progress. In response, OSU has only offered us different versions of language that would completely eliminate workload protections for this class of employees.
It’s the perspective of the bargaining team and CGE observers that OSU still isn’t acknowledging work related to one’s own research as work. In fact, a member of OSU’s bargaining team even air quoted “employment” at our last session. We’re hoping to work past these roadblocks, but we don’t feel like bargaining can progress until OSU can acknowledge that they are bargaining with employees who do work and deserve full contract protections, including reasonable workload limits. While we really enjoyed having to spend an entire year defending our status as employees over OSU’s objections during the RA campaign, we just can’t get excited about spending time at the bargaining table retreading the same ground.
OSU said they’d try to bring language to Monday’s session (May 20) that spoke to our concerns. We are, of course, eager to see what they’ve got. Try to make it to tomorrow’s session 9-11 in Westminster House. We want to put some pressure on the University to bargain with us in a way that respects us as employees, and having you there helps us do that.