Our first summer meetings saw more conversation between Admin and CGE about health insurance, child care, union rights, and appointments.
On Monday, CGE started off with a proposal for Article 28 (health care), and submitted letters of agreement (LOA) for child care and tuition (Article 12). Article 28 has been a long-term conversation between our two sides. CGE submitted language that seeks to compromise with Admin, despite the fact that we’ve seen no similar movement on their end. Ultimately, we think it’s more important to see some progress here, so that every CGE member will benefit financially from this year’s bargaining. We’re still interested in decreasing the premiums graduate employees pay, and we’re interested in helping graduate employees cover lapses in their employment by adding flexibility to our existing summer insurance policy.
In the LOA for Article 12, we added language that indicates any changes to tuition benefits will trigger impact bargaining (where we get to bargain with Admin over policy changes even if it’s not during an active bargaining cycle).
Finally, we discussed the LOA for child care. Admin gives us vague promises of future resources, but won’t include CGE in any conversations until the decisions have already been made. We reminded Admin that this has been an issue for several bargaining cycles. The timeframe is so long that CGE members will have come and graduated before any final plans will be realized! Some action is needed, and we’ve needed it for more than two years! Our language proposes a modest lump sum payment to grad employee parents who fill out the appropriate paperwork.
Admin presented Article 9 (appointments) first. After hearing our concerns about creating loopholes for term appointments, Admin has proposed what we were arguing for all along: OSU will change the policy that allows hourly positions to be created when grants won’t pay tuition. That means grad employees performing Bargaining Unit work won’t have an appointment + hourly split anymore. We’re waiting for more information about implementation, but this is a huge step forward to protecting all of our grad employees. The associated LOA for Article 9 was presented with minor word changes.
Just three short days later, we had our second summer bargaining session. CGE and Admin traded the language we presented on Monday. CGE presented Articles 8 and 9, and the LOA for Article 9. Admin presented Articles 3 and 28, as well as LOA for tuition and child care.
CGE got things started with Article 9. Admin had been previously hinting at doing away with all Research Assistant/Teaching Assistant titles, and only using the singular “Graduate Assistant” language throughout documents. We feel that the RA/TA distinction is important, as we can use that as a proxy to determine how much work grad employees are doing for the university. So the updated Article 9 speaks to that point, allowing for the generic Grad Assistant language to be used if the specific assistantship is unknown when it is handed out. The LOA for Article 9 followed a similar pattern, requesting RA/TA be included on offer letters unless it is unknown.
Next, CGE discussed Article 8. When Admin presented this Monday, the only change they made was to strike out the clause requesting a CGE participant in University Budget Committee meetings. At this session, we submitted new language that requests a CGE observer, rather than a voting member, be included inthose meetings, so that CGE can be at least better informed about the process OSU uses when it determines the annual budgets. At this point it is unknown whether the meetings are public or private, so we’re waiting on Admin’s response.
Admin presented the LOA for Article 12 first, with the only change being the removal of any mention of impact bargaining. When asked, OSU’s lead negotiator agrees that an employee benefit here would trigger impact bargaining. If they acknowledge that impact bargaining applies, why do they want the language removed?
Next, they returned the LOA for childcare. They were adamant that there was no money in the budget to cover child care costs for grad employee parents, and that the progress they were making for all OSU students would be enough. They simply “can’t do anything” for us…
After that disappointment, they moved on to Article 28, where again they keep trying to play us the same old tune we’ve heard every time before. You know the one: 85% is good enough, OHP-eligible grad employees don’t deserve anything, gap coverage is too big a hassle. There was a sliver of hope however—they’re meeting with “leadership” to discuss the health insurance package this week! So hopefully we’ll hear something at the next bargaining session.
Finally, Admin presented Article 3 (term of agreement) with only housekeeping updates.
Admin proposed a major change to the way our two teams have been bargaining. In an effort to wrap up these talks, they suggested we move to “packages” of related articles bundled together and presented as a single proposal. For example, Articles 1, 2, 11, and 28 will all be submitted to the other team as a single bundle. Starting at our next session, this will be the format going forward. We’re willing to take as much time as we need to get the best result for our graduate employees, but Admin is getting antsy! The next step, if these bundles don’t allow us to finish bargaining soon, is to begin mediation.
Write-ups for our last two bargaining sessions will be up after the July 4th holiday! If you have any questions, or are interested in the bargaining process, please get in touch with us!