Welcome to your Union, Graduate Employees!
The Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE) at Oregon State University is our labor union representing all 1,700+ Graduate Employees at OSU. We are an affiliate, known as a “Local,” of the American Federation of Teachers – Oregon and American Federation of Teachers – National. We are united not only as Graduate Employees at OSU, but as educators across Oregon and across the United States. All together, our Federation represents 1.7 million educators across this country.
We stick up for one another in solidarity. We fight collectively for fair employment, safe working conditions, equitable treatment, robust healthcare, quality education, and living wages. We are not a student club – you and your Union are protected by the National Labor Relations Act as the legal entity representing all Graduate Employees at this University. OSU is legally obligated to engage with us through our union in negotiating our employment contract, and to uphold the contract language that the two Parties agree to.
We are a democratic structure by-and-for Graduate Employees.
We are not a “third party” between OSU and employees.
We, the employees, are the Union. When management refers to “the Union,” they’re talking about us.
We are the Coalition of Graduate Employees.
The Coalition of Graduate Employees is your labor union.
By joining CGE as a full member, you shape the direction and decisions of your Union. We are the collective voice of all Graduate Teaching (GTA) and Research Assistants (GRA) at Oregon State University.
Our contract is a legally binding document aimed at creating a more just and equitable workplace and working community at OSU. The University, our employer, is legally obligated to negotiate these working conditions with us. When the Institution fails to uphold the agreed upon working conditions in your contract, we have legal mechanisms (called grievances) to hold them accountable.
CGE is not a student club or a group. We are a labor union.
When you experience an issue, whether unsafe conditions or discrimination, it is your Union’s issue: we take it on together.
When it is time to fight for increased wages, childcare, and healthcare, it is your Union’s issue, and we only win when we fight together.
CGE fought for nearly a year to establish COVID-related workplace protections and Graduate Employee rights during the rise of COVID-19.
In the face of record inflation rates this last year, our member-led bargaining and contract teams were steadfast in ensuring Graduate Employees saw record-high wage increases.
The gains and wins throughout the past 20 years – tuition remission, healthcare coverage, fair pay for our work- only happened through Union efforts and active membership.
Our benefits and protections are not due to OSU’s “generosity” as they often claim. OSU Administration fights us at every turn when we assert basic needs like living wages, employment security and stability, and safe working conditions.
When we fight back and win. It takes all of us together – united – to make OSU a more just and equitable place of employment for all Graduate Employees– past, present, and future.
What is a Union?
A Union is made up of workers who organize together, democratically, to protect and improve the conditions of their work.
We are employees united to make sure we have the best workplace possible and to ensure OSU serves us, our students, and our community. Unions bring democracy and dignity to our work and our lives.
CGE is democratic and all leadership is elected by you. CGE passionately advocates for equity, inclusion, and social justice. There are multiple elections every year, dozens of positions to get involved with, and priorities come from the bottom-up, not the top-down.
Unionized workers nationwide earn 26.2% more than non-unionized workers – and average wage gains through workplace union solidarity are even higher for women and People of Color. By recruiting new members to join CGE and maintaining a high membership, we are able to negotiate and organize each and every year moving forward.
Corporations and profit-minded administrations will blame employees who form unions together for their problems. These complaints are that our wages are too fair, our benefits are too comprehensive, and that we take too much power away from supervisors and administrators. It is important to know that if they had their way and got rid of our union, they would pay us less, remove our job security, and slash healthcare benefits.
There are three unions of employees united on campus:
- We are organized as the Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE).
- Faculty organize as United Academics at Oregon State University (UAOSU)
- Classified staff are organized as Service Employees International Union 503, Sublocal 083 (SEIU).
All three unions at Oregon State fight to ensure each and every one of us receives safe working conditions, fair wages, equity, and robust benefits. We are only as strong as we are united.
Questions? Visit our website to learn more, or send us an email.
Your Employee Rights and Health Care
Through CGE, Graduate Employees for the last two decades have asserted and retained a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA, or called “the contract”) with OSU which guarantees healthcare for Graduate Employees, workplace safety, protections against unfair treatment, paid sick leave, standards on how many hours you are expected to work, and more.
Problems in your workplace
- As a CGE member, there are multiple ways to address unacceptable workplace conditions. Graduate Employees can file grievances over contract violations that they experience. Graduate Employees can also organize with other members to address workplace conditions that are not addressed by the contract, but are nonetheless unacceptable.
- As a CGE member, you are entitled to file grievances about your work if you experience a contract violation. The contract between CGE and OSU guarantees Graduate Employees particular rights (such as timely appointment letters, protections from discrimination and bullying, paid sick leave, etc.). CGE uses the grievance process to address violated contract rights. This means that workplace issues pursued through a grievance hold supervisors and/or the University accountable to a timeline and to any resolutions that come out of the process.
- Not all workplace issues can be resolved by the grievance process (like issues not covered in the contract). Working conditions can be adressed outside of a formal process through the use of collective action. Coming together within departments, colleges, and more broadly, Graduate Employees can organize actions, meetings, and more. Our union is most effective when its members use this power of collective action.
Healthcare and Insurance
- PacificSource is the health insurance provider to Graduate Employees at OSU. Partners and dependents are able to enroll as well. Read through a quick summary of your healthcare coverage or check out the full medical, vision, and dental benefits handbook.
You may find it useful to activate and view your PacificSource InTouch profile at this link. This is your online portal for your health insurance information, including coverage and benefits explanations for every visit you make. You can use it to print new ID cards, download useful documents, view deductibles, find service providers in-network, and more.
CGE Structure and Contract Gains
The actions and messaging of your employee union come from Graduate Teaching and Research Assistants just like you. This equal leadership structure is specified in CGE’s democratic constitution.
Members elect department stewards, and members can form/join caucuses and committees that guide and inform all the union does. These groups inform the Executive Council, a team of elected leaders who maintain operations and long-term plans. Staff hold no decision making authority and are supervised by the Executive Council.
Members like you set the priorities we have fought for and won as employees! Everything from healthcare, fee coverage, tuition waivers, transparent and competitive salaries, protections for international and LGBTQIA2+ employees, hardship funds, and a formal legal process to resolve workplace issues all came from members like you. Join your union to keep us pushing for improvements for employees today and into the future!
Join Your Union - Membership Info
Each workplace protection and benefit employees have today came from CGE members past and present. By joining your union, you become a part of this 20-year history at Oregon State University and contribute to building upon these gains.
Members are able to vote and participate in all union functions. Your union is supported by membership dues. Dues pay for community-building events like cookouts and social justice training, as well as support staff who help organize our critical bargaining sessions and take care of a lot of the work involved in running your union. Without these dues, your union would not exist. To make sure we respect all members’ hard-earned dues, members like you make the decisions about how your dues are used. Dues are 2% of GTA/GRA salary, amounting to $20-50/month depending on your appointment. This can seem like a lot, but this pays for itself many times over through salary increases, job security, healthcare, and overall quality of life – all of which were worse or nonexistent before we had CGE.
Without high membership and involvement, Oregon State University will fight to take away your worker rights. Members of the OSU Administration who negotiated with CGE in 2019 to 2020 made over $170,000 a year, up to roughly $350,000 a year. Those same administrators then attempted to cut your pay amidst a pandemic. They resisted protections for international workers and those who experience workplace bullying. They refused to provide childcare benefits, claiming that this would not “attract top talent” to OSU. They tried to refuse our proposal to give LGBTQIA2+ students safe bathroom access. Thanks to a united front of members like you, we fought and won, increasing employee benefits and protections across the board at a time when unions across the country were suffering major defeats. In 2022 negotiations, OSU offered us a measly 1% Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) when inflation was 8.5% and Corvallis rental prices were sky-rocketing. By getting hundreds of Graduate Employees to come to the bargaining sessions, we won a 9.5% COLA over the next 2 years. We more than doubled OSU’s hardship fund and made it accessible to more students, including Graduate Employees who don’t have summer funding or need assistance with childcare. All these successes came because when we organize together as workers, we can win against even the toughest administrators.
This is a great place to work – only because employees have united together and negotiated with OSU as a union. It was through thousands of CGE members attending events, rallies, bargaining, spreading awareness, and performing direct actions across two decades that we have the strength to make great things happen.
During COVID-19, your union entered emergency bargaining with Administration to gain pandemic protections not covered by our existing contract. Through the efforts of hundreds of members like you, Graduate Employees at OSU signed agreements with the University to reimburse internet and cell phone costs for remote work, protect against dangerous in-person work assignments, and ensure several safety protections for employees who did work in person.
Want to connect to a Steward in your department or to CGE leadership with questions first? Send us an email today – we would love to talk more!
Get Involved - Build Power!
CGE is more than just a collective of employees fighting for and winning a great place to work. We are a social space to connect, an organization committed to developing and growing new leaders, and an activist hub for our OSU and the Corvallis community.
There are many ways to get involved in your union after you join CGE.
– Members get access to our Graduate Employee Discord server (a free voice, video, and text chatting application) chock-full of social events, connections to the community, and up-to-date info on employee life at OSU. If you would like to join, email us after you become a member!
– Every department elects Stewards, recognized by our employer as the on-the-ground leaders who keep a pulse on work conditions, equity, and inclusion. Stewards are also the first point-of-contact for employees who have any employment-related questions.
– We have many Caucuses where anyone can get involved to bond, organize events, and steer our work as a union. Check out the caucuses listed below on Discord! If you have an idea for a new caucus, send us an email and we can get it started together!
- Anti-Harassment Caucus
- Disability Justice
- Environmental Justice
- International Student
- Mental Health
- Pride (LGBTQ+)
- Women of Color
- Working Parents
– Serve as a Delegate and vote on behalf of CGE at State and National conferences with American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – get a glimpse and participate in the power of educators united!
– Being a Committee member lets you dig deep and vote on important work, such as Finance, Constitution, and Social & Political Education committees.
– Want to get really involved? Our Executive Council is a team of Graduate Employees who manage projects, communicate with membership and media, build newsletters, represent workers to Oregon State, and supervise our staff.
For all of these positions and paths to get involved, CGE is committed to giving new and upcoming leaders engaging training opportunities.
Contact Info and Social Media
All our meetings are open-door. Come and check out a meeting, email us to learn more, come to social events, and get plugged in. We are so excited to meet you!
– President: Farallon Broughton (they/them), firstname.lastname@example.org
– Secretary-Treasurer: Nick Gantzler (he/him) & Jerry Sun (he/him), email@example.com
– Vice President for Social Justice: Leece Oliver Larue (they/he/uumunkun), firstname.lastname@example.org
– Vice President for Bargaining: Brandi Whiteman (she/her) & Paige Reynolds (she/they) email@example.com,
– Vice President for Communications: Cassidy Wagner (any pronouns) & Terrah Owens (she/her), firstname.lastname@example.org
– Vice President for Grievances: Christian Solorio (he/him) & Felisha Imholt (she/her), email@example.com
– Vice President for Membership: Maya Feezell (any pronouns), firstname.lastname@example.org
– Vice President for Organizing: Felicity Ratway (she/they) & John Stepanek (he/him), email@example.com
– Social Activities Chair: Zoe Thompson (she/her), firstname.lastname@example.org
– Staff Organizer: Sarah Piscioneri (she/her), email@example.com
– Operations and Support Staff: Alexis Kiessling (she/her), firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook Page: facebook.com/cge6069
Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/CGE6069
Housing/mutual aid Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/cgehousing
Discord: Discord acts as our “virtual union hall.” Upon becoming a member, you will receive an invite link.