We met with OSU’s bargaining team on Thursday, September 5th for our 20th bargaining session. Though the previous session had been frustrating & disappointing, we left Thursday feeling we’d had productive conversations on each of our three remaining issues.
Medical & Family Leave Policy
We reiterated the following interests for putting the policy in the contract: (1) to protect and enforce the existing policy; (2) to bargain improvements to the policy in the future; (3) to increase awareness of the policy. The University remained opposed to putting the full policy in the contract, but said that our letter of agreement that would require that they maintain the current policy until we reopen the contract was “very doable”. We felt this was a good way to accomplish our first interest to protect and enforce the existing policy, while also creating space to work toward bargaining improvements in the future. We also asked that we have a link to the policy in the contract to provide greater awareness. OSU was receptive to this suggestion as well, and we felt close to settling the issue.
We brought some new language on workspace that would create a contact person in each department who would be responsible for receiving and responding to requests for space and supplies. Because denial of such requests will be made in writing, this will make it easier to enforce contract language that guarantees workspace and supplies to grads. Moreover, this creates a central contact person, so all grads know who to go to with concerns and requests regarding workspace. OSU was receptive to our language, and we felt like we basically had an agreement.
Expectation of Continued Employment
We had a good discussion as to why someone might want to know with some advanced warning that they may not be employed the following term. We thought we’d made this rather self-evident point previously, but it finally seemed to click with OSU’s team. OSU finally seemed to get what we were asking for in our letter of agreement that would require advanced notice from the department about their intent to employ/not employ grads on term-to-term appointments for the following term. OSU agreed to take this back to the Executive Team and see what they could do. We left the table thinking we’d finally got some traction on this important issue.
Since the Last Session
We left the table feeling very hopeful that we were close to an agreement. However, since Thursday, OSU has told us they don’t have time available to bargain with us this week, and they have yet to indicate any available bargaining dates for next week. Tuesday, we received an email with language on Article 10—Workspace that we’re prepared to agree to. They also let us know in the email that they weren’t willing to do anything on the Medical & Family Leave Policy or Expectation of Continued Employment. We were disappointed because our last conversations were so fruitful and our proposals were even received as “very doable”. It’s more apparent than ever that we’re bargaining with a shadow team. Progress at the table becomes meaningless when the men & women behind the curtain (the “Executive Team”, and particularly OSU President, Ed Ray) don’t give the bargaining team the authority to agree to “very doable” proposals.
Our Bargaining Team is trying to decide how to respond, considering we’ll be back at the table in a few months. We’ll be in touch regarding any developments at or away from the table.