As the title suggests, this was the last session of the Spring quarter. However! We will be bargaining into Summer in order to get a contract the CGE body can ratify Fall 2016. Exciting, no? CGE started off presenting Article 9 and a Letter of Agreement (LOA) on Article 9. Admin presented Article 28 (finally!), and LOAs on Article 12 and childcare (Article 31).
First things first, we presented our newly rewritten Article 9 (appointments). This Article 9 starts from the existing article in the contract (rather than the rewrites we’ve been passing back and forth). We incorporated some of Admin’s proposed additions, and have backed down on HR approval for one term appointments. Instead, we’re requiring all appointments less than one academic year long to include an explanation for why the appointment is short. Whether that’s funding or availability, whatever the reason, there must be a note on the appointment letter. This way, graduate employees can have a paper record of their appointments and the reasons those appointments are less than one academic year. Our final addition to the new language was a proposal to include in the bargaining unit the research-related hourly work performed by graduate employees with assistantships. That means if you’re a grad employee with a teaching/research assistantship but you also have to do hourly work that’s related to your research or teaching duties, we think that work should be included in the bargaining unit, and that you should receive the full benefits of the contract and be protected by the union if anything happens during that hourly work. Some funding sources can’t/won’t pay tuition, leading to split assistantship + hourly work appointments. This way, graduate employees can benefit from CGE protections during all of their working hours!
After going over the new Article 9, we also proposed updates to the related LOA. We clarify that we’re only interested in adding hourly work to the bargaining unit that’s previously been removed based on funding constraints. We’re not asking to include unrelated hourly work (like working for University Housing & Dining Services, etc). Moving the hourly work into the bargaining unit provides benefits and protections to graduate employees, including the ability to file grievances, pay equal to FTE hourly rates, and accumulation of sick leave. Additionally, we’ve added language that would allow CGE to receive copies of appointment letters, so that we may also keep track of those departments or colleges that frequently award single term appointments.
Finally, Admin was ready to present their version of Article 28 (health care).
First, the good news: graduate employees and their family will be automatically enrolled and stay enrolled as long as the grad is still working. Family members will need to be enrolled initially via a similar form to what we use now, but will be automatically enrolled after that. Admin also found a way to include summer enrollment in their plan! Each month, one ninth of the summer premium will be deducted from the graduate employee’s paycheck (in addition to the premium for that month). Say a grad employee works for only the Fall quarter. They will have paid 3 additional payments toward summer. OSU will cover the other 6 payments, and the student will be able to enjoy stress-free summer health insurance coverage! It doesn’t matter if the grad works one term or three, OSU will cover the difference.
The bad news: Admin is still pushing back on the healthcare premium coverage, sticking to 85% over the whole year, even for low-earning graduate employees who qualify for the free Oregon Health Plan! While the summer payment scheme is great, we’re worried that the Summer premiums portion of the Fall deductions will be taxed, making the overall cost of health insurance slightly higher! Admin is also pushing back on gap coverage, which could theoretically be ran similarly to summer coverage (or summer coverage could just be applied to fill a gap). We’re still working on ways to incorporate a gap coverage clause in the article, so be on the lookout for that.
After that whirlwind discussion, Admin presented a LOA for Article 12 (tuition waiver). In it, they discuss the idea of lowering summer credit hour requirements and associated fees for all grad students. They also say OSU will review policies regarding tuition benefits, and will be discussing a possible expansion of those benefits. For all OSU employees, both grad students and non-grad students, that means a second tuition benefit of some kind (grad employees get their own tuition remissions, other OSU employees get a 70% discount for one family member). There are a lot of nice sounding words but few hard deadlines, so hopefully something substantial comes from these talks, which will happen after bargaining has concluded.
Admin’s last presentation was a LOA for Article 31 (child care). They agree to “update” CGE regarding developments in child care access and affordability, though there is no place for CGE to participate in these developments. The child care needs of graduate employees aren’t just going to hang tight until these “developments” are realities, so CGE will be submitting a response to this, taking our member’s immediate needs into account. We definitely want involvement in the process, and we are also interested in a temporary measure that will help grad employee parents in the meantime while these mysterious developments play out.
While this was the end of our bargaining for Spring term, we’re far from over. If you’ll be around this summer, be sure to stop by Westminster House while we continue to bargain! Our tentative Summer bargaining dates are:
Monday, June 20 2:15-4pm
Thursday, June 23 2:15-4pm
Thursday, June 30 2:15-3:15pm
Friday, June 1 8:30-10am
CGE will be presenting Article 28, and LOAs for Article 12 and 31.
Admin will present Articles 8 and 9, and LOA for Article 9.