We switched gears on Monday to talk a bit about issues we hadn’t yet addressed at the table surrounding workspace, safety, and union rights.
CGE proposed new language in Article 10 that would address issues related to the cleanliness and adequacy of graduate workspace. Specifically, the language would guarantee that “work space provided shall be properly maintained, and include:
- Space adequate for the number of occupants
- Working locks on the doors
- Appropriate furnishings that are properly and securely installed
- The same custodial services provided to other similar spaces within the department or building.”
Additionally, this proposal would require departments to secure private meeting space for graduate employees who need to hold confidential meetings or office hours.
The OSU Admin team was generally receptive to this language, though they expressed some doubts that these issues could be adequately addressed through contract language. Their tem suggested these issues may be better addressed on a case-by-case basis outside of bargaining. CGE agrees that these issues will take work outside of bargaining, but we think the first step to securing these necessary improvements is to agree in writing to OSU’s obligation to provide adequate workspace.
CGE also offered language on Monday to address issues related to workspace safety. Our proposal expanded upon existing language by specifically addressing the necessity of field training and safety equipment and moving the responsibility for providing training from the individual supervisor to the department level. Additionally, we suggested language that would provide CGE greater input into operations related to building safety. Namely, we proposed that a CGE representative be allowed to accompany OSHA inspectors on site visits and that CGE be allowed to submit lists of facilities and services that do not meet safety requirements.
While the OSU Admin team supported the need for expanded safety measures, not all team members were supportive of CGE having a role in identifying facility safety concerns. The OSU Admin team caucused to get on the same page about this issue, but we didn’t hear much more from them on this issue after the caucus. We’re looking forward to further discussion on these issues in future sessions.
CGE proposed a number of changes to the Union Rights article. These changes are partly housekeeping, including increasing the number of stewards to reflect the growth in CGE. We also proposed a change to the way dues are deducted when OSU fails to correctly deduct dues. This change would move the liability from the employee to OSU, since it was their mistake.
The most significant change to Article 8 was CGE’s proposal to add a graduate employee seat to the University Budget Committee. We feel that since we negotiate contracts that both impact and are impacted by the budget, it is responsible for us to be plugged into that process. A seat on the UBC would improve our ability to negotiate responsible contracts while also increasing student input into OSU’s budget. The Admin team was not excited by this proposal as they viewed it as inappropriate for union represented employees to be involved in a “management committee.” We dispute the idea that we can either have a union or a role in shared governance, and you can bet that this conversation will continue in coming sessions!
Letter of Agreement on FTE Increase
CGE and the Admin team are now on the same page about increasing the minimum FTE to 0.3 by 2017. This is a great step in getting all graduate employees to a living wage, but CGE has expressed a desire to be cautious in this change so as to guarantee that no programs or individuals are hurt in the process. Toward this end, we proposed a letter of agreement that would grant us access to department and college-level conversations regarding how to fund the FTE increase. With this language in place, we are ready to accept the accelerated FTE increase. OSU was somewhat hesitant about this language, wishing to maintain the management right to administer the budget as they see fit. We’re hoping for a more official response to this language soon.
OSU has agreed to open the pre-tax deduction benefit to term-to-term employees, so it looks like we’re just about ready to tentatively agree (TA) to our first article. This is a major bargaining milestone that we’re more than ready for!
Be sure to join us at the next sessions:
Friday, May 13
Monday, May 16
Friday, May 20
Monday, May 23
Friday, May 27
Friday, June 3
All sessions run 2:15-4pm in Westminster House. Bring your work, come when you can, and leave when you need.