Your union representatives secured a new contract this fall – for the first time, representing GRAs as well as GTAs. In previous years, university administration had claimed that GRA work was not “work”, but only scholarship, and that GRAs thereby did not qualify to be included in a labor union. In early 2013, a ruling by the Oregon Employment Relations Board that GRAs did indeed work for OSUallowed GRAs to vote in favor of CGE representation, which 89% of voters did!
CGE set forth to bargain for RA-specific workplace needs. One significant victory in the contract ratified October 8, 2013 is a personal time allowance. Because RAs don’t teach, there’s no obvious vacation time. Now all Graduate Assistants are contractually guaranteed the ability to adjust work schedules to allow at least 15 days off per academic year – that’s 3 weeks! We will continue conversation with the administration and the graduate school to evaluate (work towards on our end) year-long appointments for all. And although it’s not apparent, through bargaining we also influenced the development of a graduate school academic grievance procedure in the graduate school for overworked grads and garnered support on campus for institutional lab safety standards, taking the responsibility off of grads and onto the labs, where it belongs!
More highlights of this contract’s gains are below, followed by tentative goals for next year. There will be a survey distributed soon (late Nov./early Dec.) to the entire bargaining unit to ensure we bargain our interests, so even if your issue is missing on the survey, make sure to fit it into the comments!
2013 CGE Bargaining Team new contract benefit highlights:
- Inclusion of research assistants, including those who only perform research toward their thesis (you’d be surprised how hard we had to fight even after the ERB ruling)
- Protected time (schedule changes): 3 weeks per year
- Protection for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
- Work space and supplies point people in each department and a documentation system for requests
- An academic grievance policy
- Continued conversation on the Medical and Family Leave policies
- Continued conversation on term-by-term vs. year-long appointments
- Extension of the eCampus tuition waiver
2014 CGE Bargaining Team new contract wish list:
- Academic year-long appointments for all
- Medical and Family Leave policy
- Inclusion of transgender health coverage
- Increased Salary
- Summer fee remission
- Decreased health insurance costs
But most importantly
- Whatever the membership tells us they want!