Monday, August 5th
It is hard to believe it was the sixteenth bargaining session after the way the session on Monday, August 5th ended. For the most part, the session was considerate, productive, and sincere. However, toward the end of the session, both teams found themselves disagreeing on whether thesis work (which contributes to one’s academic progress) is actually in-service to the university. This session focused on two Articles in the contract, a proposed new Article 29 and Article 18.
The session began with a testimony from Nadia Payet, former EECS graduate employee and CGE member. Her testimony set the stage for the bargaining discussion regarding Article 29, the language for the types of leave time (personal time, family medical leave, holidays, etc.). Currently personal time is not supported by the contract. Nadia informed the bargaining teams about the difficulty she had getting approval to travel home to France’s Réunion Island during the 7 years she spent at OSU completing her PhD. Nadia explained how she was afraid to even ask her advisor for personal time and that she was only able to give this testimony now because she is no longer at OSU. To Nadia, asking for personal time to travel home was like asking for a favor, and she felt having time guaranteed in the contract would be very helpful. This testimony portrayed and represented the experiences shared by many international graduate employees and bolsters the sincere need to guarantee personal time.
Providing language that guarantees personal time to visit family or mentally debrief is a strong interest of CGE. During this session, the majority of the time was spent discussing language that would level the power difference between graduate employees and advisors regarding requests for personal time. Though the conversation was generally productive, the teams experienced real difficulty trying to balance guaranteed personal time without limiting or burdening existing freedoms to take time off. While both teams agree a system to track personal time days is too burdensome, CGE insists that a specific minimum number of days be allotted to graduate employees per term. With language specifying the minimum number of days graduate employees are eligible to use for personal time, individuals such as Nadia can be more comfortable asking their advisors for time off.
After brainstorming some valuable ideas for Article 29, the bargaining teams began discussing Article 18, the grievance procedures. This article outlines the process for handling grievances. Aside from some minor edits, CGE’s bargaining team was not interested in making any changes to this article. However, OSU’s team has tried to add language that would revoke contract protections for graduate employees solely working on their thesis research. This is unacceptable and was regarded as permissive by CGE’s team because it would redefine the bargaining unit (which we are not currently bargaining about). OSU brought new language this session that said that work performed by such employees would only be exempted from the grievance procedure. The new language references a grievance policy set forth by the Graduate School for individuals with issues regarding their academic progress. OSU views this as a sufficient manner to handle grievances regarding thesis work, but this policy does not include CGE representation or an 3rd party arbiter. After caucusing, CGE’s team attempted to identify the specific interest for adding this language. CGE viewed the new language as revoking the coverage of the grievance procedure for graduate employees solely working on their thesis in all cases including work safety and other components of the contract, which is not viewed as something the Graduate School grievance procedure should necessarily address. OSU’s team claimed that the Graduate School grievance procedure would be applicable in more situations than simply dealing with workload issues but could not provide any other examples of issues. OSU’s team continues to suggest that the Graduate School grievance policy (which was created as a result of this round of bargaining), will suffice for handling all grievances regarding individuals who are working solely on their thesis, or in other words, their academic progress.
[Post by Joey Hulbert]