Admin settles with GTFF, no strike

Letter from the President:

We Have a Deal!

Late last night, we reached a tentative agreement with UO administration for our next contract.

After 14 hours of intensive mediation (and an awesome accompanying sit-in in the EMU!), and despite a shady 11th-hour move by the UO bargaining team, we were able to pass them a proposal they agreed to sign.

The next step in our contract campaign is ratification, which is when we get to vote to approve the contract our bargaining committee has spent the last year negotiating. Stay tuned for an update to our bargaining blog with more details of the TA and results of our upcoming vote.

This is a win! Not only did we protect our health care, we have also secured wage increases above inflation, a pilot summer jobs program, 6 weeks of paid parental leave, child care assistance for kids up to the age of 7, protections from ICE and workplace bullying/harassment, and increased GE participation in departmental decision-making.

Thank you all for the organizing work that has brought us to this point. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it a thousand times more—our collective action throughout these last twelve months is what got us this TA, and we mounted an incredible and hard-fought campaign—I’m so proud!

We have built so much power and solidarity as a union and throughout this community. I cannot wait to see what else we are capable of achieving together.
In Solidarity Forever,

Ellen Gillooly-Kress
President of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation
To learn more about our bargaining efforts, visit our website.

Schill and Phillips come to their senses, cancel plan to cut GTFF health care

Update 10/26: A bit more from reporter . Gina Scalpone in the ODE here:

The bargaining teams for University of Oregon and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation issued a joint statement Friday, according to the UO Human Resources website:

“We had the most productive meeting that we have ever had bargaining late into the evening. Both sides heard each other’s interest and the biggest point of difference, health insurance, has been tentatively resolved pending reaching agreement on a full package. The parties hope to complete work on the agreement when they meet again on Tuesday.”

The statement was released the same day the GTFF filed notice of its intent to strike.

10/25/2019: That’s the rumor from down at the faculty club, and with any luck it means the strike is off. We’ll know more on Tuesday. My best guess is that this will cost UO about half of what President Schill has to pay Rob Mullens to use the President’s Skybox at Autzen:

Academic Council to meet today to discuss Continuity Plan if GTFF strike

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.

Negotiations Update
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
Year One:
2.5% increase to minimum GE salaries.
1.5% increase GE salaries above the minimum.
Year Two:
2.75% increase to minimum GE salaries.
1.5% increase GE salaries above minimum.
Year Three:
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 uoelr@uoregon.edu.

Best regards,
Missy Matella
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations
University of Oregon Human Resources

GTFF authorize strike for Nov 4

10/18/2019 update from the GTFF:

Over the last three days, over 85% of the membership has cast ballots in our strike authorization vote, and 1,044 grad employees—over 95% of voters—said Yes! We’re standing firm: no cuts to health care and a fair contract NOW!

I still think President Schill will come to his senses on this, but if not the strike will presumably start Nov. 4th.

Update: Deans asking undergrads and faculty to scab on grad students

The former would be CAS divisional Dean Hal Sadofsky, asking faculty to help find undergrads to do the work of GEs. The link for sign-ups has now been taken down or moved.  The latter would be SOMD Dean Sabrina Madison-Cannon:

I am asking Area Heads for the following information:

  • Please identify faculty in your area (including yourself) who do not have a full workload for fall term.
  • Please identify faculty in your area (including yourself) who are willing to volunteer their services during a strike even if they have a full workload.

UAUO Pres Chris Sinclair has the following advice for faculty on how to avoid becoming a scab:

Full pdf here.

10/17/2019: What should faculty do if our GE’s strike?

The GTFF and the Administration proposals are very close, and the administration can avoid a strike simply by agreeing to cover most of any increases in health care costs for years 2 and 3 of the contract. That’s pretty much it. This is the same deal SEIU just got – for PEBB, which is a much more expensive insurance plan.

On the off chance they don’t, UAUO Pres Chris Sinclair gives this advice to faculty on their obligations during the ensuing strike:

Continue reading

Music & Dance to hold emergency meeting to plan for GTFF strike

Our GE’s are voting this week on authorizing a strike, probably starting week 6.

Presumably other deans are also planning on how to maintain undergraduate educative production – or at least pretend they are maintaining it – should the UO administration continue its quixotic effort to cut graduate students’ health insurance and real pay.

If you have info on other college’s strike planning please post an anonymous comment or send me the emails: uomatters at gmail.

Dave Cecil calls bullshit on UO admin’s GTFF insurance scheme

President Schill badly needs a few JH insiders who will tell him when he’s being stupid. But he’s fired them all. So now it’s up to the unions:

The UO Administration has been spreading the rumor around campus that the GTFF is about to go out on strike because they love their free massages. This is bullshit.

Before I became UAUO’s Executive Director in 2014, I spent 10 years working for the GTFF. So I know their contract, their health insurance program, and what is important to graduate employees on our campus.

I hope you won’t mind a little history. In roughly 1999, the members of the GTFF fought to have a real, employment-based health insurance plan. They were able to get the administration to agree to pay for a decent insurance plan, but the one thing that admin did not want to do was administrate the plan. So the grads said they would do it themselves. The union formed a trust – the GTFF Health Insurance Trust – which has run the health care plan ever since. That means that each year, it is the GTFF and the Trust, not the administration, that contacts GEs, informs them of their benefits, signs them up, helps them when they run into problems, and works to keep the plan healthy and cheap. Just as they wanted, the administration only plays a small role.

Each year, the GTFF works with their health insurance provider to keep the costs as low as possible, then they bargain with the administration over how much the university would contribute to the plan. Some years cost increases were low, so bargaining was easy. Some years the costs were high, and bargaining was difficult. Some years, the university was under a state-wide public employee wage freeze, so the two parties were able to agree to health insurance benefit increases or lower costs for GEs in lieu of raises.

This year, unfortunately, the administration came to bargaining with a complicated scheme whereby they would raise wages if the GTFF would agree to significant cuts to their health insurance subsidies. This was not the first time the administration had proposed this idea. In previous rounds of bargaining, the administration had explained to the GTFF bargaining team that GEs don’t actually need decent health insurance because they are young and healthy and that GEs would rather have the money in their pockets than health insurance. Every time, the GTFF bargaining team told them that these things were not true, and they knew this because they talked with GEs every day. In fact, the health insurance was one of the few things the UO had to offer prospective GEs. Every time the GTFF has been given the chance, the GEs have chosen to protect their health insurance, rather than grab raises. This time is no different.

Over the last several years, many administrators have latched on to the idea that GE health insurance is too good, especially the massages. You may have heard that GEs get 50, 75, or 99 free massages every year. It seems outrageous. It would be, if it were true. The GTFF health insurance plan guarantees to each GE exactly 36 insurance-subsidized massages every year. GEs have a co-pay of 10% for each massage. The insurance-covered massages did increase to 36 from 20 last year, because their new insurance company threw them in for free to entice the Trust to switch from their old insurance. GEs actually use the massage benefit so infrequently that the cost difference between offering 20 massages and offering 36 massages is negligible.

So what do GEs use their insurance for? It’s been a few years since I worked with them, but I can’t imagine it has changed much. The three big cost drivers are prescriptions, mental health, and emergencies. These are things that the administration is not going to talk about when complaining about the cost of GE health insurance.

The GTFF is not contemplating going out on strike to protect their free massages. So why are they talking strike? Because this year, the administration has decided to back out of their 1999 agreement and wants control of the health care plan. Or, as the administration puts it, they want “cost containment.” They claim that GE health insurance it too expensive. This is why they talk about all those “free” massages; the implication is that if the GTFF would just give up their massages, the cost of the plan would be reasonable. This is, as I mentioned above, bullshit.

What the admin wants to do is have an agreement whereby the GTFF Trust would pay the majority of any future cost increases either by raising the premium costs for GEs or cutting their benefits. This sounds not just petty, but mean. What kind of pinchpennies raise health insurance premium costs for workers earning roughly poverty wages? How soulless do you have to be to raise the co-pays for prescriptions or mental health visits for those same workers? Of course our pals in administration would never do such a thing, so they invented the crisis of “too many free massages” to explain their actions.

The GTFF is talking strike because they know that accepting the administration’s proposal would mean that, should the Trust experience a medium-sized cost increase, GEs will face cuts to core services or large premium increases. A large cost increase – driven by a few large emergency claims – would force the GTFF Trust to radically restructure the plan. The GTFF is talking strike because they simply cannot agree to pay for a big increase.

The simple truth is that the administration would like to pay less for GE health insurance. This is understandable. That the administration would like to pay less for GE health insurance by making GEs cut benefits or pay more is unconscionable. That’s why the GTFF is being forced to go consider going out on strike.

The leadership of UA has made it clear to both the GTFF and the administration that faculty believe that GEs deserve decent benefits and decent salaries for the hard work they do. Classes and labs cannot run without them. I hope GEs do not have to go out on strike to protect their health insurance, but if they do, I know faculty will stand with them.

In solidarity, Dave Cecil

UO Administration sweetens offer in response to GTFF’s impasse declaration

My quick read is that this still amounts to real cuts in wages (for many if not most GEs) and in health benefits (for all GE’s):

Dear Faculty Colleagues,
Just a note to share with you the university’s latest offer in negotiations with GTFF. I’m forwarding a copy of an email update from the ELR bargaining team that was sent today to academic leadership. I wanted to make sure all faculty members have the most current information. An overview of the package is available on the GTFF bargaining webpage. If you have questions, contact Peter Fehrs, lead negotiator, by submitting an email to uoelr@uoregon.edu.
Thanks and best wishes.
[Provost Patrick Phillips]

 

**Sent on Behalf of Missy Matella**
Dear Colleagues,
While the University of Oregon and GTFF continue in the cooling-off period following impasse, we are committed to keeping you informed about negotiations and strike preparation. This email provides you with important information about the university’s most current offer to the GTFF. Information and instructions about campus continuity planning for a possible GTFF strike will be forthcoming in a separate email.
Graduate employees are vital to the teaching and research mission of every college, school, department, and center on our campus. As both students and employees, they fill a unique role within our university, and it is imperative that we provide them with the institutional support they need to be successful here at the UO and the training they require for their future. We value and appreciate our graduate employees and are committed to providing them with a fair and equitable employment contract. Negotiations will continue as we work to reach a settlement. The next mediation session is scheduled for October 8.

University’s current proposal

This is a lengthy email, but at this point in the bargaining process, it is important that you have complete information accessible in a single communication. Before delving into the university’s latest offer detailed below, I want to highlight several important points:
  • Salary – We have agreed to the GTFF’s salary proposal for the third year of the contract: 3% for GEs at the minimum and 1.5% for GEs above the minimum. The university’s offer increases GE minimum salaries in the first two years of the contract: 2.5% in year one, 2.75% in year two. It also includes a 1.5% salary increase for GEs not at minimums in each year of the contract. The increases offered to GEs at the minimums are higher than the scheduled increases for OAs and faculty. More information about the GE’s total compensation package is available on the HR website.
  • Health care – The university’s latest health insurance proposal offers two options.Option One: Increase UO’s current contribution by 5% this academic year.
    Coupled with premium discounts available through the insurance company and the GTFF Trust’s approximate $500,000 cash reserve, our offer would provide the funds needed for GEs to maintain their current health insurance, without any benefit changes or premium increases this year. UO has offered to further increase its contribution in the second and third year of the contract while continuing to cover the 5% increase implemented in year one. More information about health insurance, including a comparison to other UO employees health plans, is available on the HR website.Option Two: Cost share premium increases with the GTFF.
    Premium increases below 2% would be shared at the rate in the current contract (95% UO, 5% GTFF). Increases beyond 2% would be cost-shared at different rates based on the amount of the premium increase.
  • The shift – We have fully moved off the shift. Our latest offer does not include shifting money from health insurance or fees and into GE salaries. The university moved off the shift in previous mediation offers in response to the interests and needs highlighted by the GTFF at the bargaining table.
  • Shared interests – The university and the GTFF have many shared interests including supporting families and diversity and inclusion. These interests have resulted in several tentative agreements highlighted below, including for the first time, paid family leave for GEs and increased funds available for childcare.

Last Best Offer—Salary, health insurance, fees, and other shared interests

Salary
The university’s latest offer aligns with the last proposal received from the GTFF. We match their minimum GE salary request of a 3% increase in the third year of the contract. Here is a comparison of the latest salary offers from both sides: 
GTFF offer
3% increase to minimum GE salaries each year of the contract

1.5% increase to all other GE salaries each year of the contract
The previous proposal was 4% increase to minimums only.

 

UO offer
Year One:
2.5% increase to minimum GE salaries
1.5% increase GE salaries above minimum
Year Two:
2.75% increase to minimum GE salaries
1.5% increase GE salaries above minimum
Year Three:
3% increase to minimum GE salaries
1.5% increase to GE salaries above minimum

Other employee group salary increases

  • 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
Health Insurance
The university has greatly increased its health insurance offer over the last two months. It has moved from reducing its current contribution to health insurance and shifting that money into salaries, to increasing the university’s current health care contribution in each year of the contract.
It is important to note that, currently, the university contributes significantly more to GE health insurance than our AAU peers. UO’s latest offer would continue to be twice as generous compared to other institutions.
Additionally, the GTFF Trust has the autonomy to choose the health insurance package that makes the most sense for its members. The trust’s board, comprised primarily of GTFF members, makes decisions about health insurance carriers and coverages while the university has, historically, provided 95% of the financing. The university’s latest offer seeks to align the impact of health insurance choices with the authority to make health insurance renewal decisions.
The latest offer includes two options:
Option One: Increase UO’s current contribution by 5% this academic year with incremental increases in additional years.
  • AY 2019-20: 5% increase to current contribution
    Although the parties are still bargaining, the GTFF Trust has already signed a health insurance contract that increases premiums by 7% this academic year. This leaves a difference of 2%, or $204,853, between the cost of their renewal and the university’s latest offer. To cover this difference, the GTFF Trust could use a $120,000 premium discount offered by their insurance company and apply funds from its current cash reserve of approximately $500,000. Alternatively, the GTFF Trust could choose to increase its members’ contributions to cover the difference.
  • AY 2020-21 and AY 2021-22: increase current contribution rate by an additional 1% per year
    (The 1% increase each year is in addition to carrying forward the value of the 5% increase implemented in AY 2019-2020).

    It is hard to predict future premium increases. To the extent UO’s contribution does not cover future premium increases, the GTFF Trust can apply its reserve fund to offset those costs. The GTFF Trust’s consultant also offered several changes to benefits that would result in decreased costs, while continuing to offer high quality health insurance—including only providing access to alternative health care options, like massages and acupuncture, when deemed medically necessary, and changing deductibles from $100 to $200. These changes would align with other UO employees health plans.
Option Two: Cost share premium increases with the GTFF.
Premium increases below 2% would be shared at the rate in the current contract (95% UO, 5% GTFF). Increases beyond 2% would be cost-shared at different rates based on the amount of the premium increase.
The Shift—No longer shifting dollars from health insurance or fees to salary
The university is fully off the shift. The university is no longer seeking to change the graduate employee tuition and fees structure to align with AAU peer institutions by raising the cost of fees and offsetting the increase by increasing salaries. Likewise, the latest offer does not include shifting money from health insurance into GE salaries.
Other Shared Interests—Childcare support, paid family leave, diversity and inclusion, and summer hiring
In addition to the health insurance, salary, and fee proposals described above, our latest offer also addresses interests we share with GTFF—and all of our employees—relating to family support, diversity, and inclusion. Our shared interests have resulted in several tentative agreements, such as paid family leave. With these interests in mind, the university reasserts prior offers that support students and families and promote summer hiring. More information about these agreements and proposals is available on the HR website
We will continue to bargain 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. We are hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement with GTFF through ongoing mediation and will continue to work with university management and the union toward that goal.
Our communications efforts will include an email to department heads. We will also be emailing faculty directly as part of our ongoing effort to keep them informed.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please visit the GTFF bargaining webpage or contact Peter Fehrs, lead negotiator, at uoelr@uoregon.edu.
Best regards,
Missy Matella
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations

GTFF union declares impasse, on schedule for Oct/Nov strike

That’s the rumor, now confirmed. Impasse begins the ~30 day cooling-off period before they can strike. From what I can tell the administration’s intransigence on this is driven by a paternalistic belief that they know what’s best for the grad students – less health care – and a refusal to compensate them for that loss with sufficient pay increases. I’m no behavioral economist, but I think UO’s most cited professor had some advice about this scheme, along the lines of losses looming larger than gains.

 

Top Admins’ raises blow past cost of living – but not for SEIU staff or GTFF

Thanks to an anonymous correspondent for compiling these from official data sources:

INFLATION

Western States Consumer Price Index: 3.1%

HIGHER ED FUNDING

State Funding (PUSF): +16.3%

UO Student Tuition: +7.1%

GTFF Graduate Employees

Average Salary: $16,000 (based on 9-month .49FTE)

Mgt Proposed Cost of Living Adjustment: 1.85% (~$296/yr)

Union ask: 4% (~$640/yr)

SEIU Classified Staff

Average Salary: $40,000 (12-month 1.0FTE)

Mgt Proposed Cost of Living Adjustment ~0.75% (~$300/yr)

Union ask: 3.5% (~$1400/yr)

Notable Administrator Raises (2018-19)

Jay Namyet (UO Foundation): +10% (+$43,000/yr)

Paul Weinhold (UO Foundation): +8% (+$36,000/yr)

Aaron Feld (Athletics Str&Cond Coord): +46% (+$110,000/yr)

Alejandro Mirabal (Ass’t Fb Coach) +15% (+$50,000/yr)

Jessica Minton (VP Info Svcs): +15.2% (+$77,000/yr)

Michael Schill (UO President): +9% (+$60,000/yr)

Gregory Stripp (Advisor to Pres): +21% (+$51,000/yr)

Angela Wilhelms (Advisor to Pres): +22% (+$25,000/yr)

Brad Shelton (VP Budget): +5% (+$13,000/yr)

Kyle Henley (University Comms): +3.9% (+$10,000/yr)

Kevin Reed (Gen Council): +3% (+$9,000/yr)

Administration throws GTFF diversity and benefits bones, decreases pay cut by epsilon

This is just weird. All along the administration has been saying that their primary goal was to increase GTFF pay so we looked better in the metrics and could attract better grad students – I guess meaning ones who care about pay and not benefits. So what to make of this latest offer, which promises them more benefits, but keeps the real pay cuts?

Back of the envelope, a 1% GTFF pay increase costs UO about $220K a year. UO’s latest proposal increases their pay offer by 0.4% total, spread out over 3 years. Do the math. This is way less than what JH pays a junior assistant strategic communicator.

I’m sure Pres Schill and Provost Phillips would like to get this wrapped up in time for the Board of Trustees to sign off at their meeting Sept 5-6, but this approach doesn’t seem likely to produce that result:

Dear Faculty Colleagues,
Just a note to share with you the latest economic offers exchanged at the most recent mediation session with the GTFF bargaining team. I’m forwarding a copy of an email update from the ELR bargaining team that was sent today to academic leadership. I wanted to make sure all faculty members have the most current information. An overview of the package is available on the GTFF bargaining webpage. If you have questions, contact Peter Fehrs, lead negotiator, by submitting an email to uoelr@uoregon.edu.
Thanks and best wishes.
Patrick
**Sent on Behalf of Missy Matella**
Dear Colleagues,
The university mediated with the Graduate Teaching Fellow Federation (GTFF) on August 21. While the two sides did not reach agreement, both parties are working hard to try to address basic needs for graduate employees. Below are the latest university offers related to diversity, inclusion, summer support, and supporting students with families:
  • Family and childcare support
    The university is proposing to invest resources to support graduate employees with family and childcare needs in the following way:

    • increase the assistance fund for childcare from $575 to $700
    • increase access to the assistance fund for childcare by extending age limit of the child from 18 months to five years and allowing one use per year instead of per child
    • provide six weeks of paid family leave
    • continue funding a GE position to support graduate families
  • Workplace discrimination prevention
    The two sides have reached agreement on a proposal presented by the GTFF that promotes diversity and aligns with the university’s commitment to inclusion. In the new contract, UO will invest in a pilot project that creates a diversity graduate employee position to develop and maintain resources for underrepresented graduate students.
    We have committed to annual trainings with departments to discuss policies related to discrimination and other inclusive workplace behaviors.
  • Workplace accommodation
    The two sides are nearing agreement on contract language that addresses disability access and clearly defines the accommodations process.
  • Promoting summer hiring
    The university is proposing a new summer GE position article, which is a proposal designed to encourage hiring over the summer by allowing certain positions to be offered without a tuition waiver. Based on faculty feedback, we believe this would encourage GE hiring over the summer, a win for our faculty and our graduate students.
At the last mediation session, the GTFF presented an economic proposal that brings the two sides closer together on salary. However, the parties are still far apart on issues such as health insurance, and summer and international graduate employee support. The university responded with a proposal to increase salary and health insurance support. Here is a summary of the latest offers from both sides:
GTFF offer: Salary
4% increase to GE salary each year of the contract.The previous proposal was 5.75%.
UO offer: Salary
1.85% increase to all GE salaries each year of the contract.Previously, 1.65% in year one and two, and 1.75% in year three.

Other employee group salary increases

  • Service Employee International Union (SEIU) employees: 1%
  • Faculty: 1.25% across-the-board + .75% equity pool for TTF; 2% across the board for NTTF
  • Officers of Administration: 2% merit pool
GTFF offer: Health insurance
University pays 95% (previously 100%) of health care premiums for the academic year and the summer to the extent health care premiums increase between 0 and 9.9% (Currently, UO pays 95% for the academic year and 80% over the summer).The proposal also includes a tiered cost sharing model based on the size of premium increases.
UO offer: Health insurance
In a mediation proposal, which expires on September 13, UO offered a counter to the GTFF cost sharing model that increased funding for GE insurance in FY19-20 and incentivizes the GTFF insurance trust to implement reasonable cost containment measures over the term of the contract.
The University of Oregon provides GE’s insurance coverage worth nearly twice the average of public AAU institutions. However, the UO offers slightly less, on average, for graduate employee stipends. In settling on a new contract with the GTFF, we hope to pave a path to containing health insurance costs so that we can increase GE compensation as we look to attract and retain GEs now and in the future. A detailed comparison of the current salary, health insurance, and other offers is available on the HR website.
We will continue to bargain 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. The bargaining team remains focused on reaching an agreement that provides a competitive compensation package to attract and retain top talent and positions our graduate programs for long-term success.
Our next mediation session will be on September 16. Additional updates will be provided as information becomes available.
Shortly, this update will be shared with department heads, and the provost will email this update to faculty members to keep them informed, as well.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please visit the GTFF bargaining webpage or contact Peter Fehrs, lead negotiator, by submitting an email to uoelr@uoregon.edu.
Best regards,
Missy Matella
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations
University Human Resources

 

“university again mediated with the Graduate Teaching Fellow Federation”

No they didn’t. The Administration *bargains* with the GTFF. The Mediator *mediates* between the Administration and the GTFF. That’s pretty much the whole point of mediation.

And while I’m on it, why is the Administration still claiming they are “the university?”.  I thought Frank Stahl won that one. And while it’s nice to hear that the Administration has finally abandoned its painfully quixotic plan to rationalize the GTFF’s health insurance, why are they still proposing just 5% in pay increases spread over 3 years, when the western U.S. CPI increased 3.1% last year, and the Fed’s target rate of inflation is 2% per year?

That works out to a 4% decrease. Didn’t the BOT just give Pres Schill a 17% raise?

In any case here’s the latest email from Provost Phillips:

Dear Faculty Colleagues,
Just a note to share with you the latest economic offers exchanged at the most recent mediation session with the GTFF bargaining team. I’m forwarding a copy of an email update from the ELR bargaining team that was sent today to academic leadership. I wanted to make sure all faculty members have the most current information. An overview of the package is available on the GTFF bargaining webpage. If you have questions, contact Peter Fehrs, lead negotiator, by submitting an email to uoelr@uoregon.edu.
Thanks and I hope the summer is treating you well. Take care.
Patrick
**Sent on Behalf of Missy Matella**
Dear Colleagues,
On August 1, the university again mediated with the Graduate Teaching Fellow Federation (GTFF). While both parties passed important economic offers that are detailed below, I want to start by explaining a significant change in the university’s latest offer. AAU peer analysis has shown that the University of Oregon spends nearly twice the average of public AAU institutions on health insurance coverage, but slightly less, on average, on graduate employee stipends. The UO had been looking to rebalance the GE compensation package by shifting some of the investment in health insurance into student stipends. This would give GEs more salary and help the university be more competitive in attracting graduate students. However, as it has become clear through negotiations that this concept is not one that the two parties can agree upon, the UO is no longer seeking to shift compensation from health insurance to increase take home pay.
The university’s current offer retains the existing health insurance structure—with the university paying 95 percent of health insurance premiums at the existing academic year 2018-19 rates. We remain dedicated to ensuring that GE health insurance includes reasonable cost containment measures to create opportunities to increase GE stipends in the future, which is critical to GE recruitment and retention.
Here is a comparison of the latest salary and health insurance offers:
Salary

GTFF offer:

Increases GE salary minimums by 5.75% each year of the contract.
The previous proposal was 6%.
UO offer:
Increase salaries of GEs each year of the contract:
  • Year one: 1.65% (up from 1.45%)
  • Year two: 1.65% (up from 1.55%)
  • Year three: 1.75% (up from 1.65%)
Other employee group salary increases
  • Service Employee International Union (SEIU): 1%
  • Faculty—TTF: 1.25% across-the-board + .75% equity pool
  • Faculty—NTTF: 2% across-the-board
  • Officers of Administration: 2% merit pool
Health insurance
GTFF offer:
University pays 100% of health care premiums for the academic year and the summer to the extent health care premiums increase between 0 and 9.9% (increases for next academic year are currently projected at 7%).
Currently 95% for the academic year and 80% over the summer.
The proposal also includes a tiered cost sharing model based on the size of premium increases.
UO offer:
The university is no longer pursuing a reduction in its contribution to health insurance in order to increase salaries.
The latest offer provides the same level of contribution under the current contract, which is 95% of the 2018-19 academic year insurance premiums.
The university and GTFF bargaining teams exchanged proposals on other key issues including summer support and family and childcare support. A detailed chart comparing current proposals is available on the HR website.
We will continue to bargain in good faith to reach a resolution that meets the needs of our entire university community. Keeping academic and administrative leadership informed during on-going negotiations with the GTFF remains a priority. Our next mediation session will be on August 21. Additional updates will be provided as information becomes available.
Shortly, this update will be shared with department heads, and the provost will email this update to faculty members to keep them informed, as well.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please visit the GTFF bargaining webpage or contact Peter Fehrs, lead negotiator, by submitting an email to uoelr@uoregon.edu.
Best regards,
Missy Matella
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations
University Human Resources

UO administration proposes cutting Grad Employee pay by 5%

You wouldn’t know it from today’s Around the O post on the administration’s bargaining proposals, but the US Western Region CPI-U has been increasing at about 3% for the past few years:

Assuming that continues, the “salary increases” the UO administration is offering the GTFF union will amount to about a 5% real pay cut over the 3 years of the contract:

  • Proposed salary increases for all graduate employees in each year of the contract. Year one: 1.45 percent, up from 1.25 percent; year two: 1.55 percent, up from 1.25 percent; year three: 1.65 percent, up from 1.25 percent.

GTFF bargaining moves to mediation

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.

Continue reading

GTFF bargaining sleepy blog

The Twitter has a hashtag for this that’s pretty woke: https://twitter.com/hashtag/GTFF3544?src=hash

In the EMU Crater Lake room 12-? today. About 75 GE’s and the 7 member administrative bargaining team. The wifi is slow, and glancing around at the GE’s screens it’s easy to see why – they’re checking email, writing, and analyzing data. At least one dude is working with R on some interesting looking data. Maybe I can get a few pointers from him during the break.

In contrast to the wonderfully shambolic and spiteful arguments that the UAUO used to get from Sharon Rudnick and Tim Gleason, watching the calm and knowledgeable Peter Fehrs, Missy Matella, Mike Mcghee and Michael Marchman negotiate is like watching water-based paint dry on a humid day.

“I think that makes sense”

“We’ll take a look, but don’t see any problems”

“Great, let’s TA this now.” “OK.”

Constructive and polite on both sides, and the audience is getting a lot of work done too. I assume things will get a bit more exciting when they start talking money, presumably later today.

And, on cue, the subject of parental leave comes up. Admins say it’s too expensive. GE’s say it’s an important recruiting tool. GE’s asks what it would cost. Admins say they costed it out but forget what the number was.

I missed a bit, apparently the admins did not bring an economic proposal. Bummer. Apparently then someone at the table got a little mad about something. Sorry, I was grading and missed it.

About 100 GEs here now, many sitting on the floor.

Caucus break.

3:56: The bargainers return, agree to TA the infamous article 4. Applause.

Admins agree to come back week one (I think April 5) with economics. See you then.