TLDR: Jaime Rodriguez, president of the Oregon state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT-OR,) showed support for CGE by contributing $5,000 to our Hardship Fund and pledging to withhold financial contributions to OSU until they reach an agreeable contract with CGE. Members of CGE continued to share testimony highlighting the need for financial improvements and other protections in our contract, but OSU’s counter proposals indicate that though they claim to “hear” us, they haven’t understood and/or don’t care.
The eighth bargaining session began with CGE’s co-lead negotiators expressing the importance of our proposals related to international worker support and summer support for graduate employees, all of which OSU has not yet passed back. OSU’s team made a statement as well, alluding to “an event last week” and reminded the bargaining team and audience that we need to adhere to the Student Conduct Code (even though it’s not the responsibility of the CGE bargaining team to police the behavior of other members). This disingenuous and irrelevant statement regarding members’ behavior outside the bargaining table hides the fact that despite the work put in by the CGE bargaining team, OSU has shown no interest in meeting the needs expressed in our proposals.
As of this session, CGE members, supporters, and experts have provided over 100 testimonies at our bargaining sessions since beginning negotiations in October, and over 100 people came to this bargaining session. Thank you to everyone who has courageously shared your story and shown your commitment in these grueling sessions! (If you would like to join these wonderful people, you too can submit testimony here!) On the 26th we heard grad employees discuss their challenges finding and maintaining affordable housing, the incredible positive difference the hardship fund has made for those with unexpected crises related to living precariously month to month, and the tremendous challenges parents face accessing and affording childcare in the area. Other testimonies reiterated the necessity of having summer funding to promote excellent research, and maintain a decent standard of living.
CGE passed back two counter-proposals on Appointments and Work Assignment. In our counter on Appointments, we continue to push for language ensuring CGE can catch errors on appointment letters earlier, so that fewer grad employees have to suffer lower wages or other problems caused by these errors. We also continue to push for grad employees to receive 12-month appointments (when possible) as the default. Grad employees have to pay for rent, food, childcare, and other expenses throughout the year, and the University can certainly do more to ensure grad employees are guaranteed financial stability during the summer. In the counter on Work Assignment, we continue to push for the majority of grad employees to receive 30-day notice of their work assignment, as well as for the University to recognize that preparation done before the start of the term also qualifies as work. How can graduate employees be expected to educate students when we aren’t given paid preparation time? Some progress was made despite these ongoing counters; we’ve agreed to language expanding resources the University will provide to ensure grad employees can do the work they are assigned.
At this session we also (at last!) received underwhelming counter-proposals from OSU on six articles: Union Rights, Transportation, Non-discrimination, Health Insurance, Gender Neutral Restrooms and Locker Rooms, and Sick Leave. While making some minor concessions, OSU admin condescendingly claimed to “hear” us as they struck nearly all of our most impactful language, particularly in the Transportation, Non-discrimination, and Restrooms and Locker Rooms articles. (It’s not clear why it took four months to just cross out entire sections of proposals.) This gaslighting does not represent any willingness to come together and solve real problems grad employees face, but it does represent callousness and reveals exactly where OSU’s priorities lie. They continue to insist that the EOA office be the recourse for those experiencing discrimination, despite grad employees testifying multiple times that EOA has been unhelpful and re-traumatizing to them. OSU admin also demonstrated an especially egregious disregard for disabled grad employees by placing necessary accommodations behind the unnecessary barrier of medical documentation. Translation: OSU administration doesn’t trust its employees to know what accommodations would make performing their own work possible. They additionally provided unhelpful excuses including “[that’s] just how it works” when responding to our proposal on Insurance, and they bizarrely characterized themselves as generous for covering our summer health insurance when we pay for that ourselves throughout the year.
While the content of OSU’s counter proposals needs work, the volume of proposals received already shows that OSU knows it has to take CGE seriously. The work of CGE’s bargaining team and the participation of CGE members is working, so let’s keep the pressure up! come to the next bargaining session, Wednesday, March 11th at 1:00-4:00pm at Westminster House.
Do you have comments, questions, or feedback for the CGE bargaining team? You can leave feedback (which will not be published on the website) here! https://www.cge6069.org/about/faq/feedback/