The meeting, 3PM in 253 Straub, is open to the public under the ACP policy passed last year. Meanwhile the UO administration is developing its plans to hire faculty scabs, and faculty union Pres Chris Sinclair has issued guidance on how to avoid this fate. Remember, the best outcome for our undergrads is happy, healthy, and well-paid Graduate Employees. The admin can settle this for about $250K a year – less than half the price of a provost.
Here’s the latest from the admin side:
Dear Faculty Colleagues,
I am writing to share the latest information about mediation with GTFF and about our plans to provide academic and research continuity should a GTFF strike occur.
The GTFF membership voted to authorize a strike last week. The soonest the union can lawfully strike after giving the university a required 10-day strike notice is Sunday, November 3. Should the strike occur, it would likely begin the following Monday, November 4. The university is working to ensure academic and research continuity and has plans to maintain teaching and essential research operations with as little disruption as possible. Mediation will continue with the next session scheduled for October 25, and we remain hopeful an agreement will be reached soon. In the meantime, we will continue to prepare for the possibility of a strike.
The university and GTFF met in a mediation session last Friday in ongoing efforts to reach a settlement. The session was focused on contributions to health insurance.
The university is seeking an agreement that continues to invest in GE healthcare by increasing funding each year of the contract while also incentivizing the GTFF Trust to manage future premium increases.
At the last session, the university doubled its last offer to cover increases to health insurance premiums and agreed to a framework proposed by the union, which establishes both an incentive for keeping premium increases low and a cost-sharing schedule as premium increases rise. This proposal, using the GTFF framework, maintains access to affordable, quality healthcare while at the same time providing an opportunity for the GTFF to choose to further increase GE compensation during the term of the contract.
The university’s latest offer proposes the following:
When annual premium increases are below 4%, the university contributes saved dollars to GE salaries and/or to an assistance fund to help individuals impacted by increased medical costs. The money is applied at the GTFF Trust’s discretion.
The university continues to contribute 95% of premium costs up to 4% above the current contracted rate. For increases above 4%, the university would cost-share premiums as the GTFF incrementally assumes financial responsibility beyond their current 5%.
Given the GTFF Trust’s current premium discounts available through their insurance company and its approximate $500,000 cash reserve, UO’s proposal allows GEs to maintain their existing benefits for the first year of the contract and provides them time to evaluate benefit options for subsequent years based on the incentive and cost-sharing framework they have proposed. More information about health insurance, including the GEs health insurance plan in comparison to other UO employees health plans, is available on the HR website.
The union’s counteroffer to the university’s proposal maintains a 95/5 percentage split for health insurance increases up to 9%, with the university continuing to share in the cost of health insurance at incrementally lower rates from 9% to 11%. For increases that exceed 11%, the parties would split the amount 50/50. The union proposed similar incentives to the UO offer (salary and an assistance fund) when premium increases are 5% or less.
While salary increases were not discussed at the last mediation session, here is a reminder of the offer comparison from both sides:
GTFF Salary Offer
3% increase to minimum GE salary each year of the contract.
1.5% increase to all other GE salary each year of the contract.
UO Salary Offer
2.5% increase to minimum GE salaries.
1.5% increase GE salaries above the minimum.
2.75% increase to minimum GE salaries.
1.5% increase GE salaries above minimum.
3% increase to minimum GE salaries.
1.5% increase GE salaries above minimum.
Other employee group salary increases for comparison:
Service Employee International Union (SEIU) employees: 3% in year one, 2.10% in year two.
Tenure-track faculty (FY20): 1.625% merit pool and 0.5% external equity pool for a combined 2.125%.
Career faculty (FY20): 2.125% merit pool.
Officers of administration (FY20): 2.125% merit pool.
Timely information related to the university’s most current contract proposals is available on the HR website.
Next Steps—Strike Preparation
Due to the union’s strike authorization vote, the Incident Management Team has been activated and the university’s Academic Council has been notified accordingly. The council will meet this week about academic continuity. The council will establish guidance for the academic continuity teams within the schools and colleges about maintaining academic activities and preserving the academic integrity of current courses. This guidance will be shared with you when it is issued.
In the meantime, the Office of the Provost and the Office of Research and Innovation, working in close collaboration with Employee and Labor Relations (ELR), will continue to meet with unit leadership to discuss ongoing academic and research continuity planning and explore coverage options that maintain the academic integrity and learning objectives of courses. Deans, Associate Deans, and Directors of Centers, Institutes, and Core Facilities will be completing a second round of data collection that helps identify options for continuation of academic and research activities and course grading during a strike period. This planning process will be further informed by guidance from the Academic Council as it becomes available.
ELR will continue to update the HR website with information and resources including frequently asked questions (FAQ) that provide guidance for interacting with employees prior to and during the strike, information on employee benefits, and other-strike related issues.
Please remember these important items when discussing strike participation with graduate employees:
Faculty and supervisors should encourage graduate employees to become as informed as possible on the issues and inform them that choosing to strike or not strike is each employee’s choice to make. It is important to assure employees that you respect their decision, whatever course they choose.
Faculty and supervisors should not:
advise graduate employees on whether or not to strike;
ask represented graduate employees if they intend to strike or comment on the advisability of choosing to strike;
bargain individually with graduate employees to come or return to work during a strike;
make threats of reduced support or discharge or retaliate against graduate employees who choose to strike; or
make promises of any type to induce graduate employees to come or return to work during a strike.
The university is committed to maintaining academic and research functions with as little disruption as possible and minimizing impact to students. We will continue to share information and guidance regarding strike planning in the weeks ahead.
We will also continue to negotiate with GTFF to reach a resolution that meets the needs of our entire university community and fulfills our responsibility to be a good steward of tuition dollars and public funds.
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.
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations
University of Oregon Human Resources