During the 4th session of bargaining, on Thursday April 3, 2014 at noon, we discussed issues related to regular academic year fees and with a keen focus on the burden of Summer fees in particular. Prior to beginning the discussion, OSU’s team caucused for a couple of minutes. We started business by expressing the fact that fees constitute a financial burden for graduate employees, especially to those receiving the minimum salary rate and working at low FTEs. We also noted the fact that some degree programs require enrollment in courses which charge additional fees (lab fees for example). Further, we expressed the difficulties we face over the Summer Term, such as that we are charged full fees while in certain departments also receiving lower pay. Additionally, due to the fee remission over the academic year, Summer fees represent a poorly communicated, and thus unexpected cost for many graduate employees.
After presenting our issues around fees, the OSU team recognized that the cost of fees come back to the employees, but they stated that fees serve a purpose. Therefore, the OSU team expressed its interest in maintaining the current fee remission structure. They think that they are doing enough to offset the cost of fees, and reiterated that students have control of some fees via ASOSU.
We expressed a desire to have the burden of Summer Term fees alleviated by extending the academic year fee model to the Summer Term. The OSU team expressed their interests in maintaining sustainability and social contribution that is covered by fees for the OSU campus. We continued to press on the burden of Summer fees, and answered many questions about why one might be employed over the summer and in need of fee remission. We were particularly interested in knowing why we are charged full fees over the Summer. OSU explained that Summer Term is treated differently than the academic year because faculty are paid directly by department funds via Summer Term tuition, instead of state general funds, as during the regular academic year. The OSU team members at the table did not feel informed enough about Summer fees in order to give us further or convincing responses to our questions. OSU’s team wanted to wait until team member Sherm Bloomer was available, as they felt he is the only one capable of providing full answers to these questions. Therefore, the bargaining teams postponed a continuation on the summer fees discussion until a future session when he would be present.
We held a caucus, and agreed to present our options on academic year fees and move back the discussion on Summer fees. We suggested the following options:
– Waive all fees for graduate employees;
– Institute a cap on the total amount of fees assessed to graduate employees each term;
– Introduce language that prevents the assessment of new fees (or any increase in fees) on graduate employees;
– Move to a percentage based fees waiver, rather than the fixed dollar amounts that we have now;
– Raise the dollar amount of fees waived
After presenting our options, both teams agreed to come up with a sustainable solution for both OSU and graduate employees. We argued that the current fees assessment is not sustainable for graduate employees, and we look forward to developing a better option where the burden of fee increases is not born entirely by the graduate employee. The teams spent the final minutes planning for the next bargaining session. We agreed to discuss articles 9 & 10 regarding appointments and work assignment on Friday April 18, 2014 1-3pm.