With a lack of future bargaining sessions scheduled, only 3 articles left on the table (Article 10 – workspace and personal time leave; the letter of agreement on Article 27 – family medical leave; and a new letter of agreement to offer advance notice of reappointment status for term-to-term appointees), and seemingly positive momentum, the Bargaining Team came to the table with wary hope of a contract settlement. That hope was rightfully wary as the Administration opened with an almost complete deferral of the remaining issues until the next round of bargaining. The only constructive language the Administration brought to the table was a slight perturbation of the personal time language in Article 10. However, other language in this Article disregarded CGE’s expressed need for employees to have access to and awareness of materials requisite for performing their duties.
While there was some acceptance of HR’s inability to develop policies on the issue of workspace, our greatest frustration was their lack of willingness to place OSU’s own policy on family medical leave into the contract. OSU argues that they do not want to put the policy in the contract because they intend to honor it but want to maintain the flexibility to change aspects of it as their needs require. We explained that waiting a year for settlement of the next contract when a significant portion of our members are only employed for two years is hard to justify. HR does have a legitimate concern regarding the possibility of confidentiality issues regarding medical leave, but we feel that a contractual guarantee of the leave is still important for our members and can be accomplished without violating confidentiality.
The “we-need-more-time” response was also given for a proposal offered by our Bargaining Team. This letter of agreement would have provided term-to-term appointees notification of the employment expectations of their employing unit by Nov 16 for Fall Term and Feb 16 for Winter Term. Although OSU understands the importance of this issue, they claim that there just isn’t a way for them to tell us whether or not they think we’ll be working ahead of time. A faculty member on the Administration side of the table expressed a desire to do better than an expectation and provide greater certainty if an automated process for doing so could be developed. That’s a great idea, so we requested, and hope to see, some ideas from their side of the table on what kind of time developing such a system would take. The conversation returned briefly to workspace after that request, and OSU shifted from claiming they’d like to defer the conversation to asserting a general unwillingness to direct departments to create policies.
An air of frustration filled the room for the majority of the bargaining session last Thursday, but the Bargaining Team has re-grouped and is ready to meet at the table again and see what the Administration has to offer on these issues. We have asked their team to come back to the table with ideas and language regarding these last few issues, and have met ourselves to clarify our interests, in case they need a little more help to that end. We hope they engage with these negotiations as an opportunity to address issues important to graduate employees, instead of asking us to simply push off resolution.
[Post by Lizz Hardardt]