Give Us an E.D. R.A.I.S.E.!
The lowest among us need to be elevated. To accomplish this, Oregon State University must ease the burden on graduate employees and enhance all forms of employee benefits. As the costs of necessities rise, improved benefits keep graduate employees from falling behind on their health and general welfare. CGE is committed to this issue and has implemented strategies to raise up our graduate employees through initiatives like the Hardship Fund, but we cannot do it alone; the university must share the burden. It is in the interests of the university and community to promote a happier, healthier, and more financially secure graduate workforce. Enhanced benefits are the first step in offering graduate employees the respect we have earned through our labor.
Graduate employee parents are all but barred from accessing child daycare at OSU. Rising costs and years-long waitlists obstruct parents in obtaining quality daycare for their children.Children are the true victims of OSU’s lack of childcare policies for graduate employees – children whose parents are striving for higher education and working hard in order to provide a better life for their families. OSU has historically been unwilling to invest in the future of these children. Their current stance on childcare benefits for graduate employees discriminates against workers with families and discourages recruitment and retention of diverse graduate students. Graduate employee parents need better access to daycare to achieve their full academic and intellectual potential. Graduate employee children need OSU to help their parents in opening the door to a better life.
Our campus environment is an unsafe place for many transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming individuals. Imagine needing to fulfill a basic bodily function and being unable to find a place to do so. Imagine experiencing this degrading and humiliating issue multiple times each day as you work on campus. Imagine searching for a restroom that is safe for you to use and that matches your gender identity, and being unable to find one. Imagine being forced to use a restroom that explicitly misgenders you, or one you feel uncomfortable in, because you just can’t hold it any longer. This is the norm for our campus, and OSU’s refusal to provide basic accommodations for its workers’ physiological needs sends a clear message about who is welcome here, and who is not. Lack of access to gender neutral restrooms directly contributes to the erasure and endangerment of our fellow workers. We need to protect our transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming colleagues by demanding at least one gender neutral restroom for every set of gendered restrooms on campus.
No worker at a multi-million dollar institution should suffer from housing insecurity or unsafe living conditions, yet graduate employees at Oregon State are often forced to live in overpriced, poorly maintained housing. The expanding student population of OSU drives increasing demand in Corvallis, leading to housing insecurity, skyrocketing rent prices, and increasing rates of houselessness among students and workers alike. High renter turnover rates allow slumlords to profit off of the material needs of those who are forced to live here. Workers who are priced out of Corvallis must commute every day for miles by car, bus, or bicycle, representing another unnecessary drain on our money and time and a substantial impact on our environment. The university gives administrators hefty pay raises, while those of us who teach and conduct research don’t make enough to live securely. By driving up the housing market and slashing department budgets, they tighten the vise on us from both sides at the expense of our well-being, our safety, and our lives. Graduate employees deserve the peace of mind that comes with safe, stable, and affordable housing. We demand that OSU directly address the issues of housing affordability that loom over the heads of all graduate employees.
International Worker Support
We represent graduate employees that gather at the University from all over the world. Our International Workers’ Caucus has identified the following issues that international grads experience differently at this university: a mandate to pay out-of-pocket for required unpaid internships (CPT/OPT), exploitative supervisors who can withhold funding and jeopardize visa status, misinformation about taxes, a hostile political climate, and overall lack of institutional support. This mistreatment does not foster the spirit of diversity and excellence that is among the University’s five core values. These ongoing and multifaceted issues propagate cycles of isolation that we will break through as we bargain for better support, stability, and institutional transparency for international graduate employees. The fact that we have to keep fighting for these protections is appalling. Exploitation and mistreatment of international workers is grounded in xenophobia and racism, two major issues in the history of Oregon as a state and OSU as an institution. Shouldn’t the administration want to change this narrative?
Graduate employees move to Corvallis permanently for school and work; this is our home. Many of us sign year-long rental leases, necessitating that we pay rent during the summer. But, most GTA and GRA positions only account for nine of the twelve months in a year, forcing grad workers to find alternative employment or go into debt to cover the costs of housing and food over the summer. We’ve done the math: with the rising cost of living in Corvallis, the sum we are paid for our work throughout the academic year does not allow us to save up. No reasonable employer would expect their workers to scrimp and starve themselves all year so they can survive the summer with no pay. The University expects graduate employees to come back each fall to teach, conduct research, and fulfill all of the other roles by which we support OSU and the larger community but does not pay us until the month after these obligations begin. In return, summer support must be a guaranteed part of each GTA and GRA package. We demand that the University provide guaranteed funding, support for finding funding, or a savings plan to help graduate employees stay fed and housed through the summer.
Equitable Workload & Treatment
Graduate employees are an integral part of OSU campus and community. Yet 35.2% of graduate employees work more than they are paid to, and 41.86% report working more than 20 hours a week (CGE, Workers Survey Spring 2019, N=387). These heavy workloads stretch working hours beyond our contracts While typical university employees complete daily tasks and rest before the next day’s tasks, we carry our work everywhere we go. Graduate employees are expected to teach, conduct research, publish innovative research, and attend classes as students ourselves; we fulfill those sky-high expectations at the expense of our health and our personal lives. Graduate employees are here to work hard and benefit the OSU community, but we cannot do so when workloads exceed contractual expectations. We are chained to a desk by the demands of OSU. Our labor is being exploited at the expense of the community and our futures. We deserve the dignity and respect afforded to university employees. We deserve to go home at the end of the day and enjoy the fruits of our labor outside of academia. We demand a reasonable workload reflecting the number of hours we are paid to work and mandatory annual trainings for supervisors on our collective bargaining agreement.