Q: What is the Bargaining Unit (BU)?

The bargaining unit consists of all the graduate employees who are technically covered by the CGE-OSU contract, namely all Graduate Teaching and Research Assistants.

Joining CGE

Q: Why should I join CGE?

Because it improves your ability to negotiate for better pay and working conditions. The more members we have, the more effective we are at advocating for ourselves and our colleagues.

Q: Who can join CGE?

Any OSU graduate employee can join CGE. Graduate Teaching Assistants and Graduate Research Assistants who are in the BU become full members. All other graduate employees, such as those on fellowship or performing hourly work, become associate members.

Q: How much does it cost to join CGE?

Member dues are 2.0% of your monthly salary before taxes. If you have an appointment for $1,000 a month, dues would be $20. Associate member dues are $10 a month.

Q: Can I get into trouble for joining CGE?

No. All graduate employees have the legal right to join CGE.

Q: Can international students join CGE?

Yes. International students have the legal right to join and participate in all aspects of the union. Union membership does not jeopardize your visa.

Q: Where does my dues money go?

Every one of our dues dollars goes toward building a stronger CGE and a stronger AFT. Our dues pay for our office and administrative staff to keep the union running. Additionally, we receive a great deal of support from our state and national organizations to help build CGE.

Q: How do I join?

Check out the page on how to join.

Fair-share FAQ

Q: What is fair-share?

Fair-share is simply a process in which everyone who benefits from the union’s representation pays their fair share for that representation. Specifically, fair-share requires all non-union members in the bargaining unit to pay the portion of regular membership dues that goes towards collective bargaining and representation. CGE earned fair-share through bargaining in 2008.

Fair-share is prevalent in unions around the country, especially in Oregon’s public sector. Until 2008, CGE was the only union in the Oregon University System without fair-share.

Q: Who pays fair-share?

Every member of the bargaining unit (or BU; see the general FAQ for an explanation) who is not a member of CGE pays fair-share.

Members of the BU who exercise their right to non-association because of a verifiable religious objection (valid under ORS 243.666) must pay an amount equal to union dues to a non-religious charity agreed upon by the university and the union.

Q: How much does fair-share cost?

The amount of the fair-share fee is set annually through an audit of the union’s finances and is equal to the cost of union membership for bargaining unit members, minus that percentage of the union’s budget that goes towards things other than collective bargaining and representation. Because the fair-share fee is a percentage, grads who earn less pay less in fair-share fees. Again, grads are only asked to pay a fee commensurate with what the union spends on representation and collective bargaining.

Fair-share fees are automatically deducted by the university from the paycheck of each fair-share payer in the bargaining unit.

Q: What’s the difference between membership and fair-share?

Being a fair-share payer means you’re supporting the benefits you receive. Fair-share payers pay only fair-share fees.

Becoming a member signifies your support for CGE’s work and increases our power to fight for grad employees.  Being a member also means you get a say in what the union does in addition to supporting the benefits you receive. Members do not pay fair-share fees, only membership dues, which are currently set at 2% of a grad employee’s monthly salary.

Q: If I pay fair-share, aren’t I a member?

No. Fair-share is not membership. No one can be compelled to join a union in the public sector in Oregon.

Q: How much more does it cost to be a full member with full voting rights than to be a fair-share payer?

A bargaining unit grad employee must pay either membership dues or fair-share fees (not both), so to be a member costs only the difference between membership dues and fair-share fees. While the exact amount will vary from year to year based on the results of the audit, the difference is usually around $5 per month.

Q: Why is the deduction for fair-share and member dues the same?

Because OSU asked us to do it that way.  In 2010, when we were bargaining with the university, they kept asking us to deduct one single amount from all bargaining unit employees instead of the previous distinction, and for almost eight months, we refused.  However, when we started to get close to an agreement, they made an offer that included that process but was also a greater value to each individual graduate employee.  In essence, we made the deal because each person comes out ahead financially.

Q: You keep saying there’s a difference between fair-share and member dues, yet everyone gets the same amount deducted from their salary.  Is there some way I can keep the difference?

Yes.  Every fall term, CGE sends out a notice to each non-member’s ONID email address that contains financial audits for CGE and our parent unions as well as information on how to ask get reimbursed for the difference between fair-share and member dues.  However, non-members must apply for the rebate within 30 days of receiving the notice.

Q: Why can reimbursement not be mailed by campus mail?

We would love to be able to use campus mail, but OSU refuses to allow us access.

Q: How is it fair that money can be deducted in the first place if I can just get it back?

This was the reason we refused to agree to this process for most of the length of contract negotiations.  The thing that changed the bargaining team’s mind was that the agreement we reached with OSU was worth more to each individual graduate employee even after the increased fair-share deduction.  If any person hadn’t come out ahead, it’s unlikely we would have agreed to this kind of process.  So though the process is not as simple as it could be, we did what we could to make sure it wasn’t actually financially harmful to anyone.

Q: How do I know if my fair-share money is being spent fairly?

CGE’s members adopt a budget prior to each fiscal year. In addition, CGE’s finances are audited annually by an independent committee of members. Part of the independent audit committee’s annual responsibility is to audit the expenditure of fair-share fees to make sure they are being spent only on representation and collective bargaining.

Q: Can I see the audit of fair-share fees?

Yes, the results of the audit of fair-share fees are available to members of the bargaining unit to review.  You can download audits here (PDF):

Q: I still have questions about fair-share. How can I get answers?

If you still have questions or concerns about fair-share, email CGE at unite@cge6069.org, or contact any of our officers or staff directly. Or, give us a call at (541) 757-7141. We’d be happy to set up a meeting with you where we can answer all of your questions in person.