TLDR: Graduate workers shared emotional testimonies about abuses suffered at OSU and the lack of institutional support. CGE is fighting hard for a contract that will stop these injustices from happening again. Join us for the 4th and final session of Fall term on Friday, Dec. 6, 2:00-5:00pm at Westminster House.
Yet another full house at our third bargaining session! Graduate workers filled every seat and stood in the audience as the bargaining team introduced the next set of proposals.
The team started by introducing Article 3: Terms of Agreement. In this proposal, CGE presented a change in the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and an update to the timeline for contract reopeners. Surprisingly, the admin team questioned the necessity of the reopener section, forgetting that we’ve reopened our CBA at every opportunity since our first contract! These contract reopeners (the most recent of which happened in 2017) improve grad workers’ lives by allowing us to reopen a limited number of articles to bargain around. State and federal laws (as well as OSU policies) don’t wait to change every 4 years; they are constantly changing! We need to be able to bargain to update our CBA when that happens.
Next, multiple members of the bargaining team introduced Article 7: University Rights and Article 17: Discipline and Discharge in tandem. OSU currently has the right to fire grad workers due to “lack of work” or other non-disciplinary action, and rejects grievances “unrelated to employment.” Grad workers aren’t workers one moment and students the next! Our lives aren’t compartmentalized; we’re workers, students, parents, neighbors, and a hundred other things all at the same time. How can grad workers do the work that keeps the University running if we’re worried about getting fired? CGE is seeking to close these loopholes that put our livelihoods in danger.
Before testimonies began, CGE’s bargaining team explained to admin that our members find clapping from administrators at the end of testimonies to be disrespectful and hurtful; our members want admin to listen, not applaud our trauma. Rather than seriously consider the impact of their actions, OSU’s team responded that this polite request not to applaud was “censorship” and that they would respond however they wanted. (They apparently decided they didn’t want to clap anyway!) Then, three grad workers shared powerfully moving testimonies of their battles with discrimination at OSU. One pointed out that, despite how common it is for a grad worker to change their major advisor/lab, there is no support from the Graduate School or OSU at the departmental or administrative level. Another testimony shared how they were doxed (their private information was posted to 4chan) and sexually harassed by a student in their class, and was left unsupported by EOA (that’s Equal Opportunity & Access) after filing a report left unresolved. A third expressed hurt and anger at overt hate speech in their department against LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized people. In all of these cases, OSU demonstrates their lack of concern for the mental and physical health and well-being of the people who teach classes, mentor undergrads, and do the research that brings millions of dollars in grants to OSU each year.
After a caucus, the bargaining team resumed their presentation of proposals. Article 18: Grievance Procedure was presented next, followed by Article 24: Non-discrimination. The OSU admin team submitted two articles of their own: an un-amended Article 27: Statutory Compliance, and Article 30: Sick Leave. The conversations around Article 27 will be ongoing as multiple other articles are interconnected, so watch this space to see how these dots connect.
To finish our bargaining session, an audience member shared testimony about the difficulties of housing in Corvallis. They shared how difficult it is to live on the grad worker stipend alone. They shared their frustration with the situation, asking why they had to sacrifice so much to go to grad school when they’d be better off in industry?
Just a reminder, we need your testimonies, too! If any of these issues strongly resonate with you, we are always looking for written and oral testimonies to help us craft compelling narratives at our bargaining sessions. Testimonies can be read anonymously if you so choose. Fill out this testimony form if you can!