Simply put, Tuesday’s session was tense. During the previous session, OSU committed to bringing forth language that would address their concerns about how workload limits would be interpreted and enforced in regards to RAs working on their thesis. Unfortunately, they produced no such language frustrating our team and the many observers present. Both sides claimed that the other side was not listening to their respective interests and there was talk of whether or not IBB (interest based bargaining) was breaking down. OSU attempted to appease us by rewording their language but it was still unacceptable because it continued to exclude RA’s, whom are working solely on their thesis, from any workload protections.
The tension on both sides began to abate when we brought forth our two witnesses Beatrice Moissinac from ECS and Yonguan (YG) Chen from Applied Economics. Both are international students and both stressed the necessity of basic workload protections for vulnerable populations. While their relationships with their respective advisors were healthy, both had colleagues who felt pressured by their advisers to work constantly on their thesis and felt powerless to do anything about the situation. The power imbalance is particularly apparent with international students who are completely dependent on their advisers for support with little means to continue their program of study if this relationship takes a turn for the worse. Despite their moving testimony, OSU’s team was obstinate as ever and went so far to ACTUALLY SAY that they do not consider labor towards your thesis to be “work.” The team and observers erupted in disgust and our team broke to caucus to discuss strategy and collect our tempers.
Fortunately, our team had backup language already prepared in case OSU’s team failed to deliver on their commitments. The language in essence redefines the FTE as a “buy-out” of the enrolled thesis credit hours of an employed RA and thus changes when a workload grievance is applicable. The language reads: “ In the instance where a graduate assistant is employed to perform his/her own thesis or dissertation research, the employee shall not be considered to have exceeded workload limits until he/she has exceeded the academic workload expectation of 3 work hours per hour of enrolled thesis research credits.” For example, if you are signed up for 12 thesis credit hours and employed at a .4 FTE, you are paid for 16 of the 36 total hours a week that go towards your thesis. An RA in this situation can only grieve a workload violation if the work exceeds the 36 hours in which you are enrolled. It is important to note that the FTE and thesis credits are not additive. FTE is just the paid portion of your total thesis credits in which you are enrolled.
We presented the language after our caucus which was at the end of the session, so we were unable to really gauge OSU’s actual opinions. We did notice that they rolled their eyes when we mentioned “work-life balance,” which I found pretty insensitive. Other than that, they said they would consider the language and get back to us at our Thursday session. Our team considers this language to be a reasonable and fair compromise and we hope that OSU will come to the same conclusion. I want to thank all of the observers who came to Tuesday’s sessions, especially our witnesses Beatrice and YG. Our next session is again at Westminster from 9 to 11 on Thursday May 22nd. We hope to see some of you again and that you help yourselves to the doughnuts and coffee.
Current Favorite: Chocolate Frosted doughnut filled with Bavarian Crème
Least Favorite: Powdered doughnut filled with Lemon Jelly
Want to try next: Blueberry cake doughnut with berry frosting