I had to miss Friday’s bargaining session, but it seems the administration finally responded to the GTFF’s economic proposal by repeating their previous proposal, throwing in an additional 0.5% per year to make it an even 1%. I know a few economists, and they tell me the western US consumer price index increased by 3.1 % last year, so as might have been predicted this did not go over well.
Likewise, while the administration’s proposal to move some of what it pays for GTFF health care (by all reports it’s a cadillac plan that puts PEBB to shame, although the GTFF did manage to cut what UO paid for it last year) and put it in salary, while optimal to a rational expected-income maximizing risk-neutral agent, is not so optimal under the assumption of utility-maximization and the resulting risk aversion that has been the working model of economists since before there were such things as economists (Bernoulli, 1738). Yes, I know that newer models of loss aversion from psychologists and behavioral economists make this result stronger, but they are not needed to predict the response here.
The messages from the GTFF and the administration are below the break.
The GTFF, here:
Letter from the President:
9th Bargaining Session
Today, the university’s bargaining team finally brought their first economic counter of this whole bargaining process. In doing so, they’ve ignored every attempt we have made to communicate our needs, interests, and priorities regarding health care, a living wage, and protections for vulnerable GEs, especially GEs with families, international GEs, LGBTQIA+ GEs, and GEs with disabilities and other health concerns.
Their frankly insulting counterproposal remains true to their original package structure, taking money from health care (for a 20% reduction to their contribution) and student fees to artificially inflate overall salary numbers, which they propose to raise 1% annually (a 0.2% or $12/term increase from their original proposal), which is not enough for a Cost of Living Adjustment. Your bargaining committee has previously made it clear that this is not a structure in which we can negotiate—or so we had thought. Clearly, the message hasn’t been received.
At today’s session, members of your Bargaining Committee told the university in no uncertain terms what their insulting, disappointing proposal means to us.
The university isn’t backing down from their insulting package proposal that cuts our health insurance by 20% and requires us to pay them more money to work for them. We’re moving to mediation, which puts us on a timeline of collective action. Be at the emergency bargaining meeting on Wednesday April 10 from 6-8pm in PLC 180, and get involved in the fight for a better contract!
President of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation
And from the administration:
The university’s bargaining team would like to inform you of recent developments
following this afternoon’s bargaining session with the Graduate Teaching Fellows
Updated Economic Proposal
The university’s bargaining team presented an updated economic proposal that includes:
A 1.0% salary increase each year for three years. Unlike the current contract, this
1.0% would apply to all GE salaries, not just minimum salaries. The offer maintains a transfer of some money currently directed to health insurance and fees to provide an additional $2,088 to a GE’s salary in the first academic year of the contract. University fee coverage and health insurance still remain above our AAU peers.
The university’s bargaining team is committed to offering a fair economic package that is consistent with the university’s current economic situation.
The GTFF’s current economic proposal includes:
· 9.25% increases to minimum salaries each year for three years
· GEs who worked the academic year would receive $3,600 regardless of a summer work assignment
· GEs would not contribute to their student fees or health insurance
· International GEs would be eligible for $1,500 in airfare to attend the
University and $1,500 each summer to fly to their country of origin and back to Eugene
· Twelve (12) weeks of paid leave
· University-provided childcare subsidized to ensure cost doesn’t exceed 15% of
the lowest GE salary; subsidy provided for those who can’t use University childcare.
· GEs eligible for six hours of paid training per term, either through
additional pay or reduction in duties.
According to the University’s costing model, the GTFF’s revised proposal would add $31.7 million over three years to the cost of the existing contract (an addition of around $10.5 million per year on a $36 million annual cost base). The GTFF’s opening proposal cost $35.9 million over the same time period.
Move to Mediation
Since the beginning of bargaining, we have stated that a third-party mediator would be a valuable tool during these negotiations. Consistent with that position, each party we will formally request mediation from the State of Oregon Employment Relations Board. Mediation is the next step in the process to assist both parties in reaching a resolution and to achieve our collective goal of reaching an agreement. More information about mediation is available on the State of Oregon website.
The university and GTFF bargaining teams have been meeting regularly over the last few months. While we have made progress on non-economic issues, significant difference remains on economic issues presented in the university’s proposal and that of the GTFF. We are hopeful that a third-party mediator can initiate new conversations and advance the negotiation process.
While the framework moving forward will change, we remain committed to the same objective when negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA)—working in good-faith to reach resolution and establish a new contract with the GTFF. The university’s bargaining team will continue working to establish a new CBA that serves both the university and our graduate employees as well as the students we serve. We welcome the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions as both parties work towards this shared goal.
Please forward this email to the faculty in your department to keep them informed as well. Keeping academic units and faculty informed during on-going negotiations with the GTFF is a priority. Your assistance and support in this effort is greatly appreciated.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please visit the GTFF bargaining webpage or contact Peter Fehrs, lead negotiator, by submitting an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your involvement in the process.
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations
University Human Resources