Session 7: Friday, September 11th
CGE: Ashley Bromley, Thomas Morrill, and Laura Syron.
OSU: David Blake and Viki Dimick-Jackson
After caucusing, OSU began the session by reviewing its points of agreement with CGE that had been discussed at the previous session. Next, they stated that they did not agree with CGE’s proposed language to allow Graduate Employees to be compensated for acting as their own substitutes when they are the only person who can perform the work and they choose not to flex their time around sick leave. They believe that when professional workers in “one deep” positions take leave, there is an expectation that the work continues. They stated that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) supports their belief that work is continual in such situations. The continued by stating that they want to create transparency on the availability of leave and that supervisors need to honor Graduate Employee’s requests for leave. In order to do this, they drafted proposed language that referred to an earlier Article, but that language had been left in their office.
CGE responded that the conversation had reverted back to a discussion of OSU’s conception of the benefit of paid sick leave being job protection, rather than compensation for work when Graduate Employees in “one deep” positions choose not to flex their time. At this point, both bargaining teams caucused.
After the caucus, OSU again proposed that Graduate Employees who do not flex their work schedule around sick leave may arrange their work schedule as discussed in Article 10 and it must be agreeable to both the Graduate Employee and the supervisor. Then, OSU stated that the University will not give two types of benefit for one instance of sick leave because it would be “pyramiding.” They state that under FLSA, white-collar workers are paid for a job and not a period of time.
CGE responded that the paid sick leave law does not draw a distinction between salaried and unsalaried workers and that Graduate Employees in “one deep” positions cannot be made to flex their time. In certain instances, Graduate Employees who have to work above the normal scope of their position after using sick leave (i.e., working longer hours to meet a deadline) would experience a burden. CGE pointed out that OSU is agreeable to a substitute (second person) being compensated for completing work that is being missed due to ill health and it is unclear why “self-substitution” in the case of “one-deep” positions would be any different.
CGE asked OSU to clarify their objections. OSU’s main objections were that, 1.) Under FLSA professional work is accounted for by completion of tasks and not by hours, and 2.) Graduate Employees could “pyramid” benefits. OSU stated that the benefit of paid sick leave for professional employees is job protection.
CGE presented this example: If Ashley were a research assistant who normally ran a certain experiment and she took paid sick leave, then Thomas could substitute for her and be compensated for running the experiment while she was on leave if there were a deadline to meet. However, if Ashley were the only person who knew how to run the experiment (Thomas could not substitute for her), and she chose not to flex her time (which is allowed under the paid sick leave law), then when she returned to the lab she would have to work an extra-long shift in order to meet that deadline, which could be a burden. It was not clear to us why OSU would agree to reimburse Thomas, but not Ashley.
OSU responded that, 1.) in these situations the supervisor is the person who assigns work and would have to deal with these issues, 2.) the OSU Bargaining Team not want to create an incentive for people to say that they are sick and then get paid double for doing their work later, and 3.) they are concerned about the discrepancy between job classifications under FLSA and paying for “self-substitution.”
At this point CGE caucused. Once back at the table, we responded to OSU’s two main concerns. Philosophically, CGE simply does not agree with OSU’s belief that professional employees must, in effect, flex their time around sick leave and we do not agree with their interpretation of the paid sick leave law. CGE recognizes OSU’s interest in not creating a system that incentivizes Graduate Employees in “one-deep” positions to take paid sick leave and self-substitute when it is unnecessary, simply in order to receive a payout. CGE does not have an interest in this either. We stated that we had ideas on how to revise language in order to get rid of this type of incentivize, if OSU wanted to discuss it. Furthermore, we believe that Graduate Employees will not wish to abuse the paid sick leave policy because they are also concerned about keeping grant costs low and maintaining good working relationships with their supervisors.
OSU responded that during the caucus they had discussed what should be done about situations in which Graduate Employees need to take sick leave and also meet urgent deadlines. They believe that this could require Graduate Employees to communicate clearly with their supervisors, and then for the supervisors to determine how to handle a situation in which there is simply not enough time for one employee to meet the deadline. OSU may have systems in place for similar situations with other types of workers that could be applied to Graduate Employees and provide a solution. OSU does not want to set a precedent for other professional University employees that would be unacceptable. CGE commented that is has an interest in creating a system in which Graduate Employees’ rights in relation to paid sick leave are protected and a supervisor would not have the power to unfairly restrict paid sick leave use. OSU agreed that they have the same interest.
At the next session OSU will provide proposed language to deal with these issues.
Interim Session via Email
On Wednesday 16th OSU and CGE were unable to meet in person and bargain as they originally planned. In order to keep the process moving forward, they corresponded formally via email.
OSU reported that they had discussed the issues from session 7 with University Administration. OSU did not have an interest in accepting CGE’s proposed language that, “Graduate Employees working in one deep positions who choose not to flex their work schedule around sick leave shall be compensated as their own substitutes at the hourly rate corresponding to the monthly minimum salary.” OSU believed that the proposed language essentially changed the classification of employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA). They stated that teachers and researchers were classified as exempt under Federal rules and that CGE’s proposed compensation would violate the spirit and intent of the FLSA exemption. They believed that CGE’s proposal went above the intent of the paid sick leave law by creating a compensation structure outside the approved FTE.
OSU stated that they recognized and shared CGE’s interest in ensuring that Graduate Employees were not pressured to make up time. OSU felt that this interest was reflected in the proposed Section 3. Coverage for Sick Leave Use, which stated: “(A) Limitations to Require a Replacement. The University may not require the Graduate Employee to search for or find a replacement Graduate Employee when utilizing accrued sick leave or work an alternative shift or schedule to make up for the use of the sick time. (B) Flexible Schedules. With mutual consent between the Graduate Employee and supervisor, the Graduate Employee may “flex” their schedule by working additional hours or shifts in place of using sick leave accruals.” OSU stated that potential abuse of the proposal would be addressed through the grievance process.
CGE reviewed OSU’s message, discussed possibilities for moving forward, and worked on drafting proposed language for the next meeting.
Session 8: Tuesday, September 22nd
CGE: Ashley Bromley, Thomas Morrill, Nikki Wiseman, and Laura Syron.
OSU: Viki Dimick-Jackson and Roshni Sabedra, Human Resources Officer.
The CGE Bargaining Team began the session by stating that all of their interests had not been met because employees in one deep positions would not be able to make full use of the sick leave law. CGE did not feel that a compromise could be reached with OSU on this issue at this time. Therefore, CGE accepted OSU’s proposed language in Section 3 parts A and B. In the future, CGE may want to open the Article and readdress the issue. OSU reviewed the entire proposal that CGE had provided and agreed with it.
CGE and OSU reached a tentative agreement on the contract language. The contract language will be shared with CGE membership and then a vote taken on ratification.