Since our last bargaining session, the Graduate Council met and approved an academic grievance policy change. For grievances related to a graduate student’s work and academic progress toward their degree, a new appeals process was created. As when other Graduate School grievances arise, the appeal chain begins with the major professor, then through the department admin, then the Dean of the Graduate School and finally the Provost. For these thesis workload related grievances, the Dean (Currently Brenda McComb) may create a committee with 2 members of the Graduate Council and one graduate student to make the a recommendation. It is important to note the Dean of the Graduate School takes this recommendation into consideration, but the Dean, and not the Council makes the final decision. The Dean of the Grad School makes the distinction of whether or not the grievance is employment related. If the issue is found to be employment related, Brenda can send the previously academic grievance to HR where it will be treated as a “work” issue. We reserve the right to continue to pursue the grievance as an employment issue if we disagree with OSU’s interpretation.
It is clear that CGE’s frustration and persistence helped push this process through, and now all grads have another outlet to be heard. A pat on the back is due for all the members who have come to bargaining sessions to put additional pressure on the process. That being said, the bargaining table is a potluck dinner where the guests need to bring enough to satisfy everyone at the table. We’ve brought braised beef, vegan gluten-free coleslaw, homemade sourdough, pad thai, donuts, coffee, milk, craft beer and PBR trying to meet our members’ cultured tastes and to make sure that everyone can leave satiated. OSU’s last-best offer is 1/3 lb. of really mayonnaise-y potato salad, leftover from the Admin potluck the day before and they expect all of us to be happy and full. We are not happy.
The discussion on the language presented by CGE at the previous session was met with condescension. When we have presented workload protection language on many different prior occasions, the response back was that we were losing flexibility. Our language on leave time was met in this session with the same rhetoric: “we fundamentally believe that the language you proposed is a step back”, and “you might lose flexibility; no part timers have leave. None.” (The other part timers should unionize). Their thoughtful concern was that some advisors may become stricter about allowing grads to take leave if there is language that sets up a framework. Our length of appointment language has been treated with the same paternalistic worry, deciding after not much thought that grads would be worse off with longer appointments. They are trying to save us from the advisors that currently are flexible and amicable with grads but will become cruel sticklers if this new language is introduced. The expressed goal of leave time contract language is to ensure that students currently working with inflexible advisors have a clear reference toward taking time to see family, renew visas, or to leave town for any reason. We’ve talked to hundreds of grads over the last few years, and we’ve heard resoundingly that they need these protections to guarantee the stability of their appointments and to set up some time for them to be away from work. We aren’t willing to move so quickly from these issues when we still hear these needs expressed. The OSU team raises concerns about administrative hurdles any policy change requires, but we are committed to delivering stability to our members. We are willing to adjust language to avoid unnecessary admin hurdles as long as our members are protected.
The bargaining session ended where many have ended this contract cycle – with OSU saying that our language will not work for them and offering no solutions. Oh, and they casually mention in the last three minutes of bargaining that their team won’t be able to meet until the last week in July. I’m sure they aren’t taking leave time.
The following is a list of upcoming bargaining dates, with each session taking place from 1-3pm in Westminster House:
Monday , July 29
Thursday, August 1
Monday, August 5
Thursday, August 15
Monday, August 19
Thursday, August 22
Monday, August 26
Thursday, August 29
(This session’s Donut Report is being replaced with a Solidarity Report)
Last week, a large CGE contingent joined fists with the university’s classified workers union, SEIU, for a rally. SEIU is also undergoing bargaining with OUS, and they are facing the same delay and deny tactics that we’ve seen from OSU. There was a march through the Kerr administration building with singing, lunch, and a bargaining update following. OUS is attempting to negotiate away healthcare benefits and wages, among other things for this crucial group of employees. SEIU members include campus groundskeepers, plumbers, receptionists, electricians and many other vital positions; OSU works because they do!
This closer relationship between our memberships and bargaining strategies will certainly benefit all the workers on campus as negotiations go on. A loud word on the street is that SEIU is planning a strike in September if OSU’s bargaining continues to be disrespectful (CGE is not contractually allowed to encourage support for strikes, nor is it allowed to encourage members to join our brothers and sisters in SEIU on picket lines if they are formed, but we are allowed to encourage members to tell everyone you know about the administration’s eagerness to reduce benefits for the university’s labor force while accepting raises for themselves. CGE can also encourage members to wear the purple SEIU “In It Together” shirts and buttons in solidarity as often as possible.)
[Post by Daniel Holder]