OSU continues to minimize the needs of Graduate Employees by cutting CGE’s proposals to increase our salaries and benefits, while simultaneously abstaining from opening any new articles that (in OSU’s opinion) could “better accommodate” other protective language we have proposed.
Let’s start with salary. The most generous interpretation of the counter-proposal that OSU has put forward would look like a raise of approximately $30 per month for the lowest paid Graduate Employees. This is not only insulting, it’s downright laughable. Instead of providing us with more financial security, OSU is essentially saying “Hey, don’t worry! We’ve got your monthly Netflix subscription covered!” or “Hungry? How about a Jimmy John’s sandwich every week? Will that help?”
In all seriousness, let’s talk about what these financial proposals really look like. Our CGE B-Team is full of math savvy folks. Here’s what we found:
- OSU wants to raise the minimum FTE from $4040 to $4140. This will only increase pay for about 10% of all Graduate Employees (namely the already lowest paid employees). What does this mean?
- Right now, Graduate Employees who were appointed at the minimum FTE are paid at either a percentage of $4040 per month (first-time appointment) or $4120 per month (reappointment with 1% cost of living adjustment, COLA). With no change in this minimum, these same employees would be making either a percentage of $4120 per month or $4160 per month, starting in the Academic Year 2022-2023. OSU’s proposal is essentially just as effective as no change at all!
- Since this proposed raise only actually benefits roughly 10% of all Graduate Employees, the total cost of OSU’s proposed salary increase is roughly $60,000 per year. This is only 0.14% more than it already costs to pay ALL Graduate Employees. This led our team to ask the following question: How much does it cost to pay OSU’s bargaining team per year?
- Heather Horn: $188,328 per year
- Sherman Bloomer: $430,128 per year
- Steph Bernell: $288,900 per year
- Jessica Beck: $119,424 per year
- Trina Young: $94,776 per year
That’s a whopping $1,121,556 that OSU pays to just five of its employees per year, while they are suggesting to split $60,000 between roughly 180 Graduate Employees per year.
- CGE has proposed to raise the minimum FTE from $4040 to $4800, which would effectively result in a salary increase for approximately 70% of all Graduate Employees
- This proposed salary increase would cost OSU somewhere between $2.3M to $3M per year, depending on how many Graduate Employees are given 9 month and 12 month appointments. This may sound like a big number, but let us remind you that this amount of money would be allocated between roughly 1,260 Graduate Employees (70% of all of us), and it is just barely more than twice the combined salaries of OSU’s bargaining team of five.
Why does all of this matter? Isn’t any raise a good raise? Absolutely not! The “raise” that we are expected to receive in September of 2022 (due to our current COLA) is effectively equivalent to a pay cut when you actually consider the increase of cost of living in Corvallis. On average, rent in Corvallis has gone up at a rate of 6.5% per year since 2014, while our wages have essentially stagnated.
OSU claims that their proposed salary for Graduate Employees is competitive compared to other public institutions, but how can that be when so many of us face rent burden and food insecurity because our pay does not reflect the price to exist here?
What about Graduate Employees who are also parents? CGE has been trying, for years, to negotiate a childcare component into our contract. With our alarmingly low wages, it is unreasonable for OSU to expect Graduate Employees to be able to pay for basic necessities (food, rent) on top of childcare costs. What has OSU done to support the families of its employees?
OSU boasts that they have made substantial forward progress in childcare accommodations recently. Their solution always seems to be something like “renovate this building” or “build this new building” or “tear down this old building”. This costs OSU millions of dollars and forces employees to wait long periods of time before this proposed support is available. Common sense would say that it would be more cost-effective to provide a childcare stipend to its employees to allow those individuals to decide the type and level of care their children need. Since it seems we’re tossing common sense to the wind, let’s look at what current childcare options are at and around OSU. Here’s some data gathered by CGE’s tirelessly working B-Team:
|Name||Population Served||Waitlist||Cost, Infants, Full-time||Cost, Preschool, Full-time||After School Care? Y/N|
|Azalea Child Care Center||OSU students and employees only||~44 children||$1377 per month||$1,097 per month||No|
|Beaver Beginnings||OSU students and faculty only||2-3 months to 4 years, ~148 children total||Faculty: $1,132 per month;
Students: $820 per month
|Faculty: $820 per month;
Students: $670 per month
|La Petite Playschool and Nursery||Corvallis residents||$1,295 per month||$965 per month|
|Corvallis Community Child Care Center||Corvallis residents||$1,396 per month||$1,113 per month|
Food for thought: Even without the lengthy waitlists, could you afford these prices on your current monthly salary?
Graduate Employee labor keeps this university afloat. We deserve to be paid a living wage. We deserve to be able to afford care for our children.
Support CGE in our efforts to secure these things for all Graduate Employees!
- Become a member (if you’re not already)
- Join the Contract Action Team (CAT)
- Attend bargaining sessions (in-person and/or via Zoom)
- Submit testimony on how CGE’s proposals would benefit you, and/or how OSU’s proposals are not enough
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more suggestions on getting involved!