Welcome back to the bargaining blog! OSU recently updated their Bargaining Team. Their new Lead Negotiator is Jason Perkiser, and his first session of bargaining across the table CGE was Friday, May 13th. Let’s get into it!

As you may know, OSU proposed a “package” during the last session on April 29th that was… quite unappealing, to say the least. This week, CGE came back with our own package deal that offers much more substantive language and includes benefits that our Graduate Employees deserve.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, we’d like to take a moment to acknowledge an important fact about the May 13th session. Not a single speaking member of the OSU bargaining team showed up in person. The only two who actively engaged with CGE’s team were Jason and Sherman Bloomer, both of whom attended the scheduled session via Zoom. The camera in the Willamette Room in the Alumni Center could only fit half of the CGE B-Team in the frame, and it couldn’t fit any additional members or allies. The room was full of support for CGE, none of which could be captured and relayed to the two primary speakers for OSU for this session.

The theme of our Friday the 13th session was Grad Joy. CGE B-Team opened by introducing ourselves to Jason with a bit about why we love our work, why we love the Union, and why we proudly sit on the side of the table that commits to fighting for Graduate Employees. Thanks to all who support us!

CGE began negotiations by asking some clarifying questions related to the poor excuse for a “package” that OSU presented us with last time. Those questions were often defensively deflected or met with roundabout responses that did nothing to address what we were asking. 

OSU has continued to strike all of CGE’s proposed language in Article 25 (health and safety), and has offered little explanation for why, up to now. First, OSU claims that what CGE is proposing is too restrictive, and that they can’t predict what future events and responses will/should look like. Our team has reminded them countless times of the hours spent in Impact Bargaining during the summer of 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic because our contract is too broad to guarantee even basic protections for the safety of GEs. The wildfires since then, which have covered the city of Corvallis in smoke and ash, have also caused concern among GEs regarding our contracted protections. Those of us who have survived these recent events now have an idea of what to expect in the future. We don’t need a crystal ball to know that pathogenic events will require some level of isolation time for those infected, and wilfire smoke will make some areas where GEs work and teach hazardous. We deserve to be protected.

OSU also claims that CGE is seeking to hold OSU accountable for events that our out of their control, baselessly suggesting that in the event of a power outage, Graduate Employees would be able to contractually require OSU to magically restore the power. Let’s take a look at this mystically powerful language that would leave OSU powerless (excuse the pun) in such an event:

“It is the responsibility of the University to provide and maintain appropriate safety-related utilities in University affiliated work sites at no cost to the Graduate Employee.”

OSU takes our language and crafts the most ludicrous reasons to strike it. The purpose of the language is to hold OSU accountable for the conditions of the worksites we are *required* to report to. 

OSU has continued to strike all of CGE’s language regarding childcare in Article 11 (salary). They claim that they are taking a “community-wide” approach to childcare by renovating and expanding childcare facilities on OSU’s campus, and that should be sufficient for employees of the University who have children. CGE wholeheartedly disagrees. We have provided multiple testimonies from GEs who are parents, struggling to provide for themselves and their children. We have provided hard research on waiting lists and costs at OSU’s current childcare facilities. Still, OSU’s team refuses to acknowledge the fault in their “solution”. They continue to ignore the difference between equality (expanding childcare for every employee at OSU) and equity (providing assistance to GEs who often make $24k or less in a year, and cannot reasonably afford OSU’s facilities even if they are made available). CGE continues to fight for equity. We have proposed a $550 stipend for GEs who are parents to help alleviate some of the cost burden associated with childcare. 

OSU also continues to claim that our benefits are competitive compared to peer institutions. CGE presented facts last time – our salary is not competitive. We rank 6 out of 7 compared to some of our peer institutions (public, land grant universities around the United States) in monthly salary compared to the cost of living for one adult (with no children). OSU thinks that this is OK since they graciously provide us with a nice healthcare package which is not offered at many of our peer institutions. Their justification for our lack of a living wage is that our compensation is split between our wages and our healthcare, and to increase our salary would take away from our healthcare benefits which we worked hard to negotiate for. PSA: OSU has more than enough money to contribute to our healthcare benefits AND pay us a living wage! It is despicable to think that we choose to negotiate for one or the other. We should not have to choose between our health and paying our rent!

Here is a brief summary of the package that CGE has put on the table:

  1. Accountability: A model for assigning late fees to departments that are not timely with distributing appointment letters and position descriptions that is consistent with the model that OSU uses to charge its students late registration fees. 
    • $50 to be paid to the GE if their appointment letter less is provided less than 40 calendar days before the start of employment, and $100 if it is provided less than 14 calendar days before the start of employment.
    • $50 to be paid to the GE if their position description is not provided 20 working days before the start of the term, and $100 if it is not provided 10 working days before the start of the term.
  2. Security: Guaranteed 12-month appointments for GEs who want and need them.
  3. Security: $4800 minimum FTE (this is an 18% increase from the current minimum).
  4. Security: 5.5% COLA
  5. Respect: 0.45 minimum FTE for GEs who are instructor of record for one course section, and 0.49 minimum FTE for two sections.
  6. Respect: Protections for GEs who are asked to work before or after the start/end of the 13-week employment period.
  7. Equity: $550 childcare stipend per month per child for GE parents.
  8. Accountability: Broad protections in the event of pathogenic events and climate crises or natural disasters.
  9. Accountability: Protections and trainings against harassment and bullying in the workplace.
  10. Equity: An option to request an alternative work option (such as remote work) in the event that GE safety is compromised.
  11. Respect: Protections against retaliation for GEs who leave their worksite for safety-related reasons.

What CGE is bargaining for is not unreasonable! The University works because WE DO

Show up and show support at our next session on May 25th at the LaSells Center C&E room, or join via Zoom. We need to show OSU that our members and allies are behind us, supporting us in the fight for Respect, Accountability, Equity, and Security!