We opened the session with three fabulous witnesses, whom we refer to by first names only. André started off by sharing his experience teaching Writing 121 in his first year. This class is required for nearly all OSU undergraduates. Despite being provided with curriculum and materials, he normally spends about 15 hours a week per section, about 50% more than the time corresponding to the FTE he’s paid for because (surprise, surprise), “[He] want[s] the students to do well”. We moved on to hear from Lauren, a grad with years of teaching experience, employed at only a 0.2 FTE to teach a Bacc Core class with up to 55 students. She is regularly working twice the hours that she’s paid for. Because she is not the instructor of record, she isn’t able to accurately depict her hard work on her CV or receive evaluations that will be important in securing future employment. Lauren testified the overwork is “…not only hurting my education, but the education of undergrads.” She went on to say that teaching these courses in so few hours is “a complete eradication of undergraduate education.” Our last witness, Adele, is a GTA of 7 years. Adele’s experience led her department to give her increased responsibilities and freedom in her teaching by asking her to develop curricula for both Bacc Core and upper level courses, teach upper level courses, and serve as an instructor of record for courses with GTAs. Adele also regularly works more hours than what she’s paid for, and even though the school saw fit to bestow ever-increasing responsibilities upon her, she never received a salary increase that acknowledged her increased experience and responsibilities. Adding insult to injury, Adele just put the pieces together and figured out her assistantship wasn’t renewed for her last year of grad school. Even after her years of service to her department and college, no one saw fit to give her any kind of official notice.
These are the problems your bargaining team has been working to resolve; we want improved contract language, minimum FTE levels for graduate employees teaching their own classes (not just instructors of record), step raises with increased experience, and improved notice of employment.
After the testimony, we finished up laying out all of our financial interests, per the request of OSU’s team. For health insurance, we just want what all other faculty, staff, post docs, and graduate employees at both OSU & UO receive– 95% of premiums, for both ourselves and our partners and dependents, paid by our employer. For our families, we asked OSU to come up with a proposal for what they COULD do to reduce the difficulty of grad school for people with families by offering education benefits to partners and children. Faculty and staff receive a 70% tuition waiver that they can “give” to any member of their family. We get it; we’re already using our tuition waiver, so we probably can’t expect the same deal. But we don’t need a full waiver; anything would help! Lizz spoke toward the Community Education Program down at U O as a program which offers reduced tuition and fees to a limited population, and Dave Blake (OSU’s lead negotiator) said he would look into that. Ultimately, we’re not asking for something specific, we’re asking for anything on this front. We’re asking them to look for solutions where they might normally find a problem, just like we did regarding child care.
In an effort to overcome the significant barriers, administrative and financial, that OSU would face designing/implementing/administering a child care stipend program, CGE is offering to share the burden. Although we ask OSU be the major financial contributor, we offered an in-kind donation of staff and volunteer time for administration and a “top-off” to the trust to ensure a meaningful stipend for our members. Recent conversations with the membership have indicated our members would like our union to use its resources to help not just the membership at large, but our most vulnerable members especially. This sentiment surprised the administration, and has given us great pride. Our members paying ~$550 of their already low stipends for someone else to watch their child so they can teach, research, and study for the good of the University are vulnerable, and we were excited to explain and offer this unprecedented proposal to benefit them.
We’ll see what they say–not just about the childcare proposal. We have charged OSU with bringing a response on the entirety of our financial interests next week. So we’re really looking forward to hearing what OSU has to say about moving toward a living wage for all, raises, Summer fee remission, helping a little more with health insurance, the Ecampus waiver, and everything we’ve talked about in this bargaining blog over the past 7 sessions. Are you? Join us May 22 @ noon to look them in the eye while they tell us what we’re worth 😉
[Post by Lizz Hardardt]