CGE has spent the last few sessions laying out our financial interests. Thus, it was the OSU’s turn to drive the session. The lead negotiator for the University was unable to attend (called off to a “NCAA thing”), so the OSU team took some time to caucus in order to get needed information. Upon returning, the University had two documents for CGE. While we were pleasantly surprised to see the University did in fact list our financial interests correctly, they failed to bring a proposal or any statement of their own financial interests. Here are the preliminary responses given by the University in regards to our concerns:
The average salary rate was given by OSU. Their estimate was driven up by employees who are on two appointments. OSU noted that many of the lower FTE positions (0.20-0.25) are in engineering, and because some of these employees are paid hourly wages on top of their assistantship, it is difficult to assess their actual income level. While adjusting FTEs is critical to getting people to a living wage, the minimum salary has to go up too. Even at a relatively high FTE (0.4), people working at the minimum salary are significantly below a living wage.
Cost of Living Adjustments:
OSU calculated that a 2 percent increase of salary would cost the university $500,000 per year. This data was similar to the calculations CGE had made prior to this session.
Graduate Employees Teaching Classes:
There are a few issues at play here. One is GTAs appropriately receiving credit for courses they teach. Currently many GTAs are not listed as instructors of record, even if they design the course from scratch. OSU argues that this is a policy enforcement issue and that they are also interested in appropriately enforcing the policy. CGE also noted that there are people who teach their own classes without full autonomy that also deserve recognition beyond being listed only as an assistant.
The second issue is around setting a minimum FTE for people who teach their own classes (instructor of record or not). CGE is arguing that these assignments cannot be completed at extremely low FTE (0.2-0.25). OSU agreed that people need to be appropriately compensated, but did not offer any concrete solution.
OSU first stated the health insurance data was difficult to gather, and there was not a good prediction for partner and dependent care usage if OSU’s contribution to these premiums was increased. Some good news we received from OSU was that including comprehensive transgender care to the health insurance should be a low cost.
Once again, OSU noted fears about the uncertainty of utilization of Ecampus tuition waivers over the next year. OSU assumed Ecampus use would double. We felt this number was unrealistic. OSU noted it is likely that in the longer term (1-2 years) Ecampus tuition will be treated the same as other tuition, so that it will not be charged extra if you’re on the tuition plateau (taking between 12-16 hours).
OSU noted that the current fee remission ($430) would represent an 88 percent remission next year. When asked which fees the current waiver couldn’t legally cover (as they’ve claimed), OSU replied with a “not sure.” We discussed other ways to cover fees, including the exclusion of certain types of fees or rewriting the remission as a constant percentage. OSU did recognize CGE’s desire to avoid setting a waiver at a particular amount and then receiving major increases in fees which would not be covered.
So…what does this mean for graduate employees?
After OSU and CGE had gone over all the available data given on costs, we asked OSU about the investment they plan to make in graduate employees. OSU noted the need to finish estimates on costs related to changing the minimum salary, increasing low FTEs, and dependent health insurance. OSU also discussed needing to speak with the “leadership team” before they could make any specific statements on the University’s priorities and investments.
We reminded OSU that there is a bargaining session next week (they forgot). OSU told us they cannot meet with their leadership before then. To keep up the momentum behind financial concerns, CGE will be calling witnesses at this week’s session. Be there on Friday at 1pm! We expect a full financial proposal from OSU at the following session (June 5).
[Post by Alisha Jones]