OPL Bargaining had Ended
A new Oregon law changes our benefits. So we’re bargaining over it.
On September 1, 2023 graduate employees will be able to apply to a leave program equivalent to Oregon’s Paid Leave Program, which guarantees up to 12 weeks, 14 for certain circumstances, of paid medical, family or safe* leave for any workers in the state of Oregon who qualifies.
As described here, the program is funded through a split in salary contributions between employer and employee. Employees will contribute no more than 0.6% of their salary, the employer will contribute no less than 0.4%, for a total of 1% equivalent of each employee’s salary. With a union, anything that impacts your benefits and wages is a mandatory subject of bargaining. CGE, along with our AFT affiliates across the State are fighting for the employer to cover the full 1% employee-salary contribution to this program, and ensure continuity of pay through any qualifying leave. As a public employer, and one that pays its Graduate Teachers and Researchers below a living wage, we believe this to be not only a reasonable request, but a basic obligation of some of the State’s largest employers.
CGE submitted our intent to bargain on October 28, 2022, and have since had two bargaining sessions over this issue, as administration waffles on providing us any information. On February 1, 2023, we submitted our initial proposal to OSU admin calling for complete employer coverage for the 1% salary contribution, and guaranteed continuity of pay during a qualifying leave (ie. no delays or changes to pay).
*safe leave = qualifying leave for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, or harassment.
Here’s what we know:
Salary deductions of 0.6% will start as early as September of 2023 to support this new Leave Program. We are proposing that OSU pay these deductions themselves.
- More context: At the last session, CGE passed our initial proposal, calling for complete employer coverage of the 1% salary contribution, and continuity of pay. We need grad workers to turn out to these sessions and make clear that the burden of paying for paid leave needs to fall on our employer. Grad workers cannot afford any additional deductions.
OSU has submitted what’s called an “equivalent plan” application to the State.
- More context: From what we’ve gathered, almost all public universities in Oregon intend to abstain from the State plan, and instead contract out the leave program through a private insurance company (in OSU’s case, The Standard Insurance Company). OSU bargaining team members at our last session cited “better customer service,” and “concerns that the state plan would run out of funding,” as the reason for supporting a private insurance company, rather than the State program pool that would benefit all workers.
All sessions are remote, and all grad employees and associate members can attend.
- More context: Grads need to turn out to these sessions. We as grads need to leverage our collective power as graduate employees at Oregon State University.
CGE is represented at the bargaining table by Noah Harvey Vaughan and Felisha Imholt, former bargaining team members and current stewards, with direct support from CGE staff and AFT-OR representatives.