In our first bargaining session of the new Spring quarter, we expected to hear back from the Admin team on the financial interests we’ve brought up over the previous 7 sessions. These include some articles for which we drafted contract language, and some interests we expressed only verbally. Again, here’s what we’ve talked about so far (these are by no means the only topics we’ll be bargaining for!):
- Salary (Article 11)
- Health Insurance (Article 28)
- Parking (Article 22)
- Child Care (Article 31—new)
- Family Tuition Benefits (new)
- International Student Support (new)
So as we all gathered ‘round the bargaining table, the Admin team asked to caucus right off the bat. After a three-week break, they hadn’t been able to meet in person, working only through email. In a repeat of our first bargaining session, we sat and waited for Admin to gather their thoughts. Twenty minutes later, we were finally able to get started.
They first addressed Article 11 – Salary. CGE asked for an annual increase in the cost of living adjustment from 2% to 2.25%, in line with what SEIU recently bargained. The Admin team rejected that outright, leaving the 2% increase. They rejected our suggestion of a pay raise for PhD students who reach candidacy, citing that they prefer individual departments be allowed to determine whether or not they provide that benefit.
In a surprising turn of events, they accepted our idea to raise the minimum FTE, though they propose to do so by Fall 2017. We have some concerns that such a drastic change will leave departments with the decision to hire fewer grad employees, or even cut funding to some existing grads, so we’ll be sure to continue this conversation with the Admin team.
Also in Article 11, they incorporated a few aspects of our International Student Support suggestions. Namely, they’ve agreed to reimburse SEVIS and Visa fees incurred by international graduate employees. They initially propose a maximum reimbursement of $360, which will cover the SEVIS fee and the first Visa fee for grad employees from most countries. We’ll be reaching out to international grad employees and international student advisors to see if this part of the contract needs more consideration.
Although it was not mentioned in any of the contract language we received, the Admin team mentioned the language courses we suggested as a way for international student employees to improve their professional development. It seems they are rejecting this addition to the contract on the grounds that it should be a service for all grad students, and is therefore not a CGE concern. While we question this mindset (we’ve bargained for things in the past which benefit the CGE bargaining unit while also benefitting the graduate student body at large), we look forward to talking about it more in the future.
Next, Admin gave us their proposed changes to Article 28 – Insurance. After all the changes in Article 11, you might expect similar movement in this article — after all, we share a lot of common goals here! — but you’d be wrong. The only thing they really wanted was automatic enrollment and re-enrollment for graduate employees. They rejected our premium coverage increases, they rejected our suggestion for automatic re-enrollment of family members, and they rejected our gap term coverage option, without offering anything to replace it. This is certainly a topic that we’ll be delving deeply into in the coming sessions
Finally, the Admin team provided us with their version of the language for Article 31 – Child Care. Actually, what they gave us was a copy of our language, but everything was crossed out. This was their way of telling us that they didn’t want to include anything about child care in the CGE contract. After asking their rationale for this, they again said that they wanted any child care program to benefit all students (not just grads). They also mentioned that the third-party company that maintains child care accounts for other OSU employee groups was not willing to do the same for graduate employees. Just one more thing we’ll continue to discuss with the Admin team.
Though not in contract language, the Admin team did come back to us with some update on Article 22 – Parking. They said that they could in fact offer pre-tax paycheck deductions to 12- and 9-month appointment graduate employees, but were unable to do the same for term-to-term appointees. In the same breath, they mentioned wanting to transition appointment away from term-to-term. There will be more discussion of this when we start talking about our interests relating to appointments.
No mention of Family Tuition Benefits this time, but we’ll be sure to report whatever response they give us.
This session was just one step on the path to a contract which benefits every CGE member. If you want to send a strong message to OSU and the Admin team, come sit in on our sessions! The more presence we have, the more they’ll listen to what we have to say. Bring your reading, bring your grading, bring your friends! Come show OSU that we stand in solidarity!
Spring Term Bargaining Dates:
Monday, April 11
Friday, April 15
Monday, April 18
Monday, April 25
Friday, May 6
Friday, May 13
Monday, May 16
Friday, May 27
Friday, June 3
All sessions are 2:15-4:00 PM in the McLean Room of Westminster House (101 NW 23rd).