Eleventh hour talks to be held today

11/25/2014 update: The GTFF has sent its leadership team to meet with the State appointed mediator, presumably for the last time. No word if the UO administration has sent anyone with the power to cut a deal, or just $300-an-hour zoning easements attorney Jeff Matthews and the usual low-level administrators. Meanwhile UAUO President Michael Dreiling has an op-ed in the RG in support of the grad students:

Why do we support the federation?

On Nov. 5, UO President Scott Coltrane explained to the University Senate why attracting, supporting and retaining graduate students is essential to meeting our academic ambitions. The UO is doing poorly in this respect.

Recent data show that our total number of graduate students has declined. Many universities with which the UO competes already provide paid sick leave for their graduate employees. The UO cannot afford to fall further behind them. Better pay and a humane sick leave policy would make the UO more competitive, and we urge the administration to move on these proposals.

He’s got a point. UO needs more grad students to stay in the AAU, as Board Chair Chuck Lillis discussed in his meeting with the faculty Senate. It’s not happening, and we all know pay and benefits are part of prospective students’ decision. Here’s the last 10 years or so of enrollment data (includes professional students). We lost 100 or so last year alone:

11/24/2014 update: Unions post updates on strike, what to do about grades, AAUP support

The United Academics faculty union’s website includes some useful info about grading, and a letter of support from the AAUP for the “dilute and degrade” legislation and opposition to the administration’s confidential strike plans, here. This message is particularly strong:

The campus is caught up in confrontation and brinksmanship. Regardless of where anyone stands on the issues between the GTFF and the administration, we all have right to expect our administration to provide creative leadership in these difficult times. We are not getting this leadership from our colleagues in Johnson Hall.

The GTFF grad student union post is here, and among other things they have a letter of support from a major German trade union, reassuring the UO administration that:

“Parental leave, maternity protection and sick pay are not equivalent to socialism, but are self-evident principles.”

Now that this matter of principle has now been cleared up, perhaps the UO administration will finally agree to a deal with the GTFF. Rumor has it that the mediator from the Oregon LRB is willing to try one more time, tomorrow.

11/22/2014 update: Blandy and Altmann’s admin costs up $1.1M or 50%, in just two years

And Scott Coltrane doesn’t know where to find the $300K to settle with the GTF’s?

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And from what I can tell UO’s General Counsel’s office has spent another $150K on outside lawyers in the last two months, suggesting that HLGR’s Sharon Rudnick and Jeff Matthews may be approaching $250K in billings for the GTFF bargaining. (Dave Hubin’s Public Records office is still hiding the invoices, which I paid him for almost 2 weeks ago.)

11/22/2014 update: The well known Crooked Timber blog follows up on the Chronicle report with a complete dissection of the UO administration’s dissembling about the grad student strike, here.

11/21/2014: $530,000 in Vice Provosts not enough to figure out “X” grade

For some reason UO has *two* “Senior Vice Provosts of Academic Affairs”, Barbara Altmann and Doug Blandy, each pulling in paychecks of ~$190K, plus a regular VP of Academic Affairs Ken Doxsee, paid ~$150K. But apparently three’s not enough to do the job. While we all know Blandy has some unusual but lucrative ideas about what an A grade means,

it seems that Academic Affairs is also now confused about the X grade:

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Chronicle of Higher Ed quotes Coltrane on Senate strike vote, Board Chair Lillis speaks.

Scroll down for the Senate agenda and live-blog.

Institutionalized News Media Updates:

Once again Johnson Hall’s administrative incompetence crowds out the important news, in this case Chuck Lillis’s speech. Alexandra Wallachy does have this in the Emerald: UO has “bad reputation” for faculty-admin relations, Lillis says. And well paid former TV journalist and UO PR flack Jennifer Winters has the spin in “Around the 0“.

Chronicle of Higher Education: University of Oregon Draws Criticism for Response to Threatened TA Strike

The University of Oregon’s Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to rebuke the institution’s administration for planning for a threatened strike by graduate teaching assistants in a manner that bypasses the faculty and stands to bring about “the dilution and degradation of teaching standards.”

The Senate, which includes representatives of the faculty, student body, administration, and staff, adopted the motion in response to a confidential memorandum that Oregon’s top academic and human-resources administrators sent to deans and directors last month. …

Scott Greenstone has a good report in the Emerald on the dilute and degrade legislation, here:

By supporting this resolution, University Senate is saying two things:

– University Senate does not support the administration’s plan to change finals and called it “diluting academic standards” in the resolution. The plan includes turning final essays into multiple-choice tests, shortening long essay finals, or hiring non-GTF graduate students, officers of administration or even upper-level undergraduates.

– University Senate doesn’t appreciate the UO administration sending the plans to department heads instead of discussing the plans with the senate. University Senate wants to instead work with the university and come up with a solution together.

Originally, the plans were sent out with a stamp of ‘confidential,’ which the faculty pointed to as an attempt to hide the plans from them in the resolution. Barbara Altmann, senior vice-provost of Academic Affairs, denied this. Altmann said the watermark was “vestigial,” and that the university knew emails would be shared and faculty would learn of the plans.

Altmann says she and Blandy marked the plan as confidential, and only addressed it to deans and directors – not department heads, not faculty – because they knew that meant they’d get a lot of attention and feedback from the faculty. And these people wonder why no one trusts them?

GTF Union updates:

GTFF responds to today’s flex-time proposal from the administration here, and officially calls the strike for Dec 2nd, press release here.

Senate Meeting Highlights:

1) UO will dump Blackboard course management software for Canvas. Live Spring 2015. Yea!

2) Lillis speaks, answers questions. Very honest about UO’s situation and in the Q&A. (See below.) He wants administration and faculty to cooperate more to help UO. But will the Johnson Hall administration step up to the plate? Their refusal to work with the faculty on how to deal with the GTF bargaining and strike planning is not encouraging.

3) Opposition to administration’s efforts to dilute and degrade academic standards in the event of a GTF strike. AKA “educational malpractice”: dropping essay exams, canceling classes, having students watch videos, etc. Blandy: Tries to cover his butt, it’s all about protecting our undergraduates. Altmann: THe confidential stamp was there to attract more interest for what was an initial draft. We knew it would get leaked in 30 minutes to UO Matters (WTF? It wasn’t stamped “draft”, it was stamped “confidential“. And it took me days to get it. Embarrassing. And Altmann just can’t keep from digging that credibility hole deeper and deeper.) Dreiling: Sometimes good people make bad decisions. This secret memo was a bad decision. Just Settle. Lots more discussion, Coltrane gives a weak defense of how he’s handled the situation, gets called out on mis-statements by many in the room. One speaker gives HLGR’s $300-an-hour lawyers a special mention for abusing and insulting our grad students, during the year of botched negotiations that led UO to this point.

Legislation passes unanimously almost unanimously (25 to3?) at 5:10, Senate then adjourns. How’s that for Senate action to help UO improve its research standing, by making clear we stand behind our grad students? Now it’s the administration’s turn to show they can work together on this important goal.

Packed room. I’ll try and live-blog a little. No promises, check the livestream link. Usual disclaimer: nothing is a quote unless in quotes.

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$360K a year provost sweetens offer to $14K a year grad students – or does she?

This just in. Has $360K a year (plus $775 a month for her car) Acting Provost Frances Bronet decided to ignore the advice of her $300 an hour HLGR lawyers Jeff Matthews and Sharon Rudnick (and Randy Geller and Dave Frohnmayer?) and sweeten the GTFF deal?

Apparently not. This “flex-time” is something virtually every department already gives as a matter of course:

Colleagues and students,

I’d like to update you on the latest status of negotiations with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation. The University of Oregon has announced that it has expanded an already robust offer to include guaranteed flex time, officially recognized in the contract.

Under this new contract provision, it is guaranteed that all GTFs who need to take up to two weeks off due to a family or major medical situation will be able to flex their hours in order to do so. They also will have the ability to work with their departments and the Graduate School to explore whether more extensive schedule changes can be accommodated over the life of their contract. During the period that GTFs are exercising flex time, they will still receive full salaries, tuition and fee waivers, and health insurance coverage for their entire family.

Complete details are available here.

This new flex time proposal is an important complement to an already substantial package. This package also includes:

A nine percent pay increase, over two years, on minimum graduate student salaries. This is the largest negotiated pay increase since 2006;

Full tuition waivers;

Significantly reduced fees (a GTF pays only $61 per term); and

Full family health, vision, and dental coverage with the university paying 95 percent of the premium. This is by far the best healthcare package for graduate student teachers in Oregon and across comparable AAU institutions.

We respect the right of GTFs to conduct a legal strike and hope to reach a fair and equitable agreement quickly. For complete details of the current offer, please visit http://provost.uoregon.edu/gtff-negotiation.

This is a critical time for the University of Oregon. We recognize that there are thousands of undergraduate students who are looking to the university to finalize grades so they can graduate, secure financial aid, or solidify their registration for winter term. As this offer demonstrates, we do not want our ongoing negotiations to negatively impact anyone, especially our students. We are working on contingency plans designed to ensure that there is as little negative impact as possible.

Sincerely,

Frances Bronet

Acting Senior Vice President and Provost

11/16/2014 update: VPAA Doug Blandy blames deans, department heads, and faculty for secret strike plan to degrade academics Continue reading

Admins back off veiled threats to international grad students about visas

11/14/2014: Senate to vote on admin efforts to “dilute and degrade” academic standards

Here’s hoping Scott Coltrane will reign in Gottfredson’s $300 an hour lawyers and settle with our grad students. If not, the Senate will be taking up legislation next Wednesday:

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One well spoken UO faculty member sent out a pretty plain response to the Deans and Dept Heads about that “confidential” Doug Blandy, Barbara Altmann and Bill Brady memo:

I feel compelled to share my frustrations about the messaging to Dept. Heads and Program Directors in relation to the strike. Just two points:

First, the messaging that repeatedly compares the planning and management process in relation to the strike to what we would be doing if there were an earthquake or a flood grates against this philosopher’s remaining rational capacities. An earthquake certainly, a flood presumably, is not the sort of event that is negotiated in advance by human actors. The continued reference to natural disasters as somehow analogous to what is about to happen here is apparently designed to engage our basic moral sensibilities in a way that is inappropriate to the situation at hand. In the face of a natural disaster, the necessity to adapt and adjust, to be creative and compassionate in the face of tragedy, to also go above and beyond our normal obligations and responsibilities, even in heroic ways, would be unquestioned. The impending events are the result of human decision. They are not comparable in any way to a natural disaster. Our obligations are different in this case than they would be in the case of a natural disaster. Our responsibilities are different.

Second: The imperative to assign all students a grade in order not to interfere with their financial aid, puts the entire responsibility on Dept. Heads and Program Directors for these students’ ability to pay THE UNIVERSITY the tuition dollars they owe. The University administration is apparently willing to put these students in a very vulnerable position. They are also willing to imperil the income to the UO that these financial aid dollars represent. Yet they are asking us to feel fully responsible for the fate of these students and these dollars. If students don’t get their grades, they are implying, we bear the moral responsibility for that. Doesn’t the administration bear responsibility for engaging in this level of stubbornness and brinksmanship in relation to these very same students, and putting us, dept. heads, and program managers who don’t have a place at the negotiating table in the position of carrying out a decision that we have no voice in? If our commitment to the undergrads is sacred, why is the administration willing to put their education at risk? Department Heads and Program Directors should NOT be put in a position of feeling the moral responsibility and weight for individual student’s financial-aid fates, when the administration is clearly willing to put these very same students in jeopardy. We have NO VOICE in the negotiations with the GTFF, no power to impact those negotiations, we should not be made responsible for the result of the failure of those negotiations. The moral appeal is designed to pit our concern for our undergraduate students against our concern for our Graduate Teaching Fellows. No educator should be put in this position, certainly not without having had some voice in the process through which the situation has come to be what it is. A basic tenet of most ethical systems and theories is that one cannot be ethically responsible for those things that one had no part in creating and has no power to influence or control.

Thanks for listening.

In related news, the Daily Emerald reports on today’s GTFF rally in front of the Johnson Hall administration building, home to many overpaid UO administrators:

A member of SLAP also held a sign with the face of Michael Gottfredson on it, and the number $940,000 written across his forehead – a reference to the severance package Gottfredson received upon resigning. The SLAP speakers addressed Gottfredson’s severance as well.

“Our tuition shouldn’t be wasted on presidential severance packages and union busting lawyers,” Huebner said, referring to the outside lawyer hired by the university to aid in bargaining.

Personally, I think the $940K Chuck Lillis spent to get rid of Mike Gottfredson was a hell of deal. I’d have paid $4M of other people’s money.

11/14/2014: Admins back off veiled threats to international grad students about visas

This latest effort from $300 an hour land-use lawyer Jeff Matthews is not going to help UO recruit top international PhD students. The GTFF union has the story here. After they sent our administrators this letter, patiently explaining that the University of Oregon is part of free country, governed by laws, Johnson Hall backed down and retracted their veiled attempts to intimidate international grad students.

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GTFF strike rally 11:30 Wed, at Johnson Hall Admin building

Update: UO’s undergrad student government supports the grad students. In the Emerald:

Given this history, we were deeply disappointed to see that university administration is not interested in similarly striving to meet the needs of our GTFs. The paltry offers handed down to our GTFs have been thoroughly insufficient. Although it has been suggested that there are simply not enough funds, in the wake of former President Gottfredson’s million-dollar severance package, those words ring hollow. To state that this university does not have the funds to provide paid medical and parental leave to its GTFs is utterly unacceptable and suggests that there is a dire need to reassess our university’s priorities.

And what are those UO’s priorities? Dave Hubin’s Public Records Office is doing its best to stall release of the new data until after the mediation sessions with the GTFF later this week, but judging from last year’s numbers, lining the pockets of the Johnson Hall administration seems to be job #1:

11/11/2014:

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The UO administration’s rather pandering response is below the break. I’m guessing the upcoming mediation session the email mentions is the reason the Public Records Office is hiding the contracts showing current pay for top Johnson Hall administrators.

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How much has UO spent on lawyers to fight our grad students?

12/6/2014 update: New reports on legal and consulting expenses, here. Some to HLGR for GTFF bargaining, some for the UOPD union,  some for things JH really doesn’t want to attach an accounting code to:

Legal:

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Consulting:

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11/6/2014 update: I don’t know, I’m crowd-sourcing this one:

In response to questions about the total cost of the hiring HLGR for the GTFF bargaining, here are links to some public records on legal (and consulting) expenses. File dates are approximate and a mix of xls and the badly scanned pdfs Dave Hubin’s public records office sends out to make life harder, but I think I’ve got complete coverage from 2011 to the end of October. If someone wants to put together a spreadsheet for just the GTFF costs please email me a copy and I’ll post it.

2011-2013 legal billing

2013 – June 2014 legal

1/1/2013-9/15/2014 consulting and 6/1/2014-9/18/2014 legal

Sept and October 2014 legal and consulting.

(new) October 2014 legal and consulting.

(link fixed)
Here’s a sample of a detailed HLGR invoice from the faculty union bargaining, after redactions by our General Counsel’s office:

I’ve made a PR request for the September 2014 invoices, which should show more about what Rudnick, Matthews, and Grado are doing to justify the astonishingly expensive GTFF bargaining:

Subject: Re: Public Records Request 2015-PRR-092
Date: November 5, 2014 at 4:48:17 PM PST
Cc: doug park <dougpark@uoregon.edu>
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton –

Thanks for these accounting reports.

This is a public records request for the six detailed HLGR invoices with transactions dates of 24-Sep-14.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest. Because of the timeliness of issues around HLGR’s work for UO on GTFF bargaining and other issues, I would appreciate it you could expedite this request.

I’m ccing Doug Park on this request as his office has these documents and can easily make them available.

Thanks,

Bill Harbaugh
UO Prof of Economics
http://harbaugh.org

11/5/2014: Coltrane still letting Frohnmayer’s HLGR firm rake in the billable hours

It took another petition to the Lane County DA, but at least Doug Park didn’t accuse me of harassment this time. here are the latest HLGR billing numbers. Presumably UO was sitting on these because they didn’t want the grad students to know how much Coltrane was willing to pay noted tobacco company lawyer Sharon Rudnick and Jeff Matthews to bargain against them:

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Of course some of those invoices are probably for other things, like negotiating Gottfredson’s buyout, or perhaps for dealing with the rape allegation cover-up. And here are the consulting payments – looks like Huron is back:

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9/26/2014: Has Coltrane fired Sharon Rudnick and Frohnmayer’s HLGR law firm?

Continue reading

Admins flesh out negotiating diffs, strike plans

11/2/2014: The most striking part of the story is the news that half our peers give their grad students the sick leave benefits our administration has been refusing to offer ours, “because of the principle”. Huh?

Diane Dietz has the story in the RG. (link fixed). It’s a good sign noted zoning variance lawyer Jeff Matthews isn’t talking for the UO administration:

On Thanksgiving Day, University of Oregon graduate teaching fellows will be cleared to strike under timelines set by state labor law — although they say they’ll probably wait until after the weekend when administrators are around to see the walkout.

That Monday will be the 10th week of an 11-week quarter, when a maximum number of term papers and final exams need to be graded and final grades need to be calculated and posted.

The university will be able to make do without its 1,494 Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation-­represented employees, should they strike, said Bill Brady, a labor lawyer who worked six years at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System before arriving at the UO in June to take the post of senior director of employees.

“We have a lot of employees on this campus, not just our graduate students,” he said. “We also have qualified individuals within the community, and we’re going to use a variety of methods to prepare for and to carry on business as usual during the strike.”

10/29/14: Doug Blandy’s confidential strike plan allows faculty to cut finals, admins to hire “community experts” to scab on grad students

Word down at the faculty club is that VP for Academic Affairs Doug Blandy has asked David Miller if he’s willing to teach Quantum Mechanics, while noted campus presence John Brewster may teach intro Public Relations classes.

UO’s complete secret strike plan is here:

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No one should really be surprised by our VPAA Doug Blandy’s willingness to compromise academic standards for financial gain, given that the Arts and Administration Department he used to chair is notorious for grade inflation in its AAD 251-3 gut classes, which have been raking in $1M or so in student credit hour cash, per year:

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It’s funny – every quarter faculty get an email from Blandy about our obligations regarding grades and final exams. We even managed to give finals during last December’s Snowpocalypse. Seems like that’s no longer convenient for our administrators:

From: “Senior Vice Provost” <srviceprovost@uoregon.edu>
Reply-To: srviceprovost@uoregon.edu
Date: November 21, 2013 at 12:36:42 PM PST
Subject: Dead Week and Final Exam Policy

Dear Colleagues,

This message is to remind you of examination policies that may affect your course planning for the end of this term. Faculty legislation controls assignments that may be required during the last week of regular classes, commonly known as “Dead Week”:

1. In the week preceding final examination during fall, winter, and spring terms:
No examination worth more than 20% of the final grade will be given, with the exception of make-up examinations.
No final examinations will be given under any guise.
No work that will be evaluated for grades/credit will be due unless it has been clearly specified on the class syllabus within the first two weeks of the term.

2. Take-home examinations will be due no earlier than the day of the formally assigned final examination for the class in question.

This action clarifies and extends earlier faculty legislation (1911 Faculty Assembly archives) prohibiting the giving of final examinations earlier than officially scheduled.

Doug Blandy
Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs

Frances Bronet’s claims on grad student paid leave are contradicted by SEIU

Francesca Fontana has a well researched article in the ODE, here:

… The GTFF asked for a 5.5 percent raise for two years for all GTFs. According to Bronet, the university offered two proposals: a 6 percent raise per year for two years to level one GTFs and 3 percent to levels two and three, or 5 percent in the first year and 4 percent in the second for all GTFs.

“We are happy with either of those because we want to meet their interest and their needs,” Bronet said.

The other unresolved priority is paid leave. According to Bronet, the university cannot offer the GTFF paid leave because they are part-time employees (working under 0.5 Full Time Equivalent, or FTE).

“What they can do right now is have 12 weeks of protected job leave,” Bronet said. “In terms of paying for family leave, one of the dilemmas is that we have many employees on campus that work less than 0.5 and don’t have access to family paid leave. We’re trying to have some kind of equivalence across all the people who are working and contributing to our collective community.”

The Service Employees International Union released a statement on Sept. 30 announcing solidarity with the GTFF and revealing that part-time classified staff accrue paid leave. This leaves adjunct faculty as the only part-time employees that cannot acquire paid leave.

According to Henry, the issue of paid leave is a form of discrimination towards students who want to have children.

“We’re told, ‘Dissertate before you procreate,’” Henry said. “Without paid leave, the issue of gender equity comes into play because you’re saying men can pursue professional track positions, wives can stay at home and have children. This gets rid of the best and brightest women on their way to becoming professional scholars because you can’t do both.” …

The university is also claiming that the tuition waivers grad students receive should be counted as pay. Whatever. The point is UO needs our grad students. Of course we give them fee waivers. Many other universities supplement these with research grants for computers and travel. (As a first year PhD student Wisconsin sweetened their offer to me with me a state of the art $2500 PC with a 386 processor and 1MB of RAM.)

Actually, to stay in the AAU we need many more graduate students. It’s a bad time for the administration to pick a fight with the ones we got. This is the first time in history that UO has hired an outside lawyer to negotiate with the grad student union. That’s been a big failure. Coltrane and Bronet need to show that they have the stones to back down, and set things right.

UO cancels legal contract with HLGR, will negotiate directly with grad students and faculty

Josephine Wollington has the story in the RG about this very unusual mid-negotiation change and the positive response from the union leadership. This is great news, Rudnick and Matthews have been an expensive disaster for UO. It seems that the new leadership wants a less confrontational approach, and isn’t going to be tied to the mistakes of the previous administration.

Oh, wait, never mind, this about the Eugene Public Schools and their negotiations with the teachers union. I guess we’ll have to wait to learn what Coltrane does about fixing the problems with UO’s General Counsel’s office and HLGR.

Gottfredson extends union benefits to OAs, but not to GTFs.

After paying noted tobacco company attorney Sharon Rudnick and her friends $1M to unsuccessfully argue “The University” couldn’t afford to give these benefits to faculty union members, Gottfredson now wants credit for giving them to the non-unionized faculty and the OAs too. His email manages to try this without once mentioning the word “union”. Classy guy.

Meanwhile, he’s still paying HLGR’s zoning and easements lawyer Jeff Matthews $300 an hour to fight parental leave for our PhD students, who say they’ll strike over it.

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that I have enacted three new or expanded benefits allowing unrepresented faculty members (UFM) and officers of administration (OA) to enjoy more generous family leave benefits and receive a tuition discount for a second child who attends the UO, as well as expanding sabbatical compensation for faculty. I announced my intention to do so last October. We solicited public input about the policies this spring. These benefits took effect on July 1.

Family leave

The university provides UFMs and OAs with leave upon the birth or adoption of a child as provided by the Family Medical Leave Act and the Oregon Family Leave Act. Under the new paid family leave benefit, a UFM or OA who takes parental leave under FMLA or OFLA may take the first six work weeks of such leave with pay in the following manner:

  • After using available short term disability insurance benefits, all vacation leave and all but 80 hours of accrued sick leave, if a UFM or OA cannot cover the six weeks, the university will provide them with the necessary amount of paid parental leave to receive a total of six weeks paid parental leave.
  • Each UFM and OA may use accrued sick leave for his or her remaining six weeks of parental leave. In the event that they do not have sufficient accrued sick leave, they may borrow advanced sick leave for the remainder of the last six work weeks.

For questions or to check eligibility, contact Laurie Mills, Medical Leaves Coordinator at lmills@uoregon.edu or 541-346-2950 

Second child tuition benefit

The new second child reduced tuition benefit will allow a UFM or OA to use their staff fee privileges for a second child who takes classes at the University of Oregon. Both children must be enrolled in undergraduate programs; one eligible child may take classes at any OUS institution but the second eligible child must be enrolled at the UO.

The staff fee privilege enables eligible employees and/or dependents to take up to 12 credits per term at 30 percent of the in-state resident tuition cost.

For additional information on eligibility and forms for the staff fee privileges program, please see the Human Resources website.

Sabbatical benefit

Under the expanded sabbatical benefit, compensation will increase from 85% to 100% for a third of a year (4 month) sabbatical for UFM who are eligible to receive a sabbatical benefit. Additional lengths of leave and compensation are also available depending on the school, college, or other administrative affiliation. Represented faculty members also receive this new higher sabbatical compensation under a collective bargaining agreement negotiated last fall. For more information on sabbatical leaves please see the Academic Affairs website.

I again want to thank all the employees of the University of Oregon for all that you do to make this a premier public research university.

Regards,

Michael Gottfredson, President

UO cuts cost of hiring PhD students

Here’s some good news:

TO: Deans and Department Heads, Directors of Graduate Studies, GTF Contacts, and Graduate Coordinators

FROM: Kassy Fisher, UO Graduate School

RE: Tuition Support for Grants Funding Level III GTFs (Revised July 2, 2014)

Effective Fall 2014, the University will provide support to grants on which GTFs are hired. In short, the labor index will be charged only three credits of tuition when the index is a grant and when the appointee is a research level III research fellow (GRF). The balance of the tuition will be charged to a non-grant index in the hiring unit. Hiring units with GTFs supported on grants should consult their dean’s office to determine the index that will be used. …

UO grad-student union bargaining, Friday at 3:30PM, 302 Gerlinger

3/21/2014 update: Today, Friday at 3:30PM, 302 Gerlinger. Topics to include pay and health care.

3/14/2014: President Gottfredson’s team has been giving our students a hard time. Their “Hired Guns and Hired Help” live-blog of the bargaining sessions is here:

The admin’s position is that what the admin spends on him is not appropriate for the table. Our organizer points out that this is a misrepresentation of our position. We are trying to ascertain the admin’s priorities. He doesn’t get it. We’re not trying to offer any proposals that would alter the General Counsel Fund spending is administrated. But when we see spending on admin and General Counsel grow, and yet we’re told there’s no money to spent. Now the lawyer threatens to bury us under red tape.

And don’t miss the excellent Twitter hashtag feed: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23GTFF3544&src=tyah

Topics for Friday include money, sex, and of course dental. I’m no dentist, but Gottfredson’s position on the economics mystifies me. Our GTF pay floors are really low. This is painful for our grad students, embarrassing to our university, makes it difficult to recruit the best grad students in many fields, and generally calls into question the seriousness of UO’s efforts to stay in the AAU. The money needed to fix GTF pay is trivial – a Bean and a Gleason or two. Does anyone understand what game Gottfredson is playing here? Is it just that he thinks a few deadwood admins are more important to UO’s future than 1200 grad students?

UO’s lead negotiator is Jeff Matthews of Harrang Long Geller and Rudnick.

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How did he get the job? Apparently Sharon Rudnick decided union bargaining was not her comparative advantage, and fled back to tobacco company work.

GTF contract update

8/2/2010: Update from Emily Gillespie in the RG:

One of the most contentious issues is health care coverage.
In previous contracts, the University has covered 100 percent of teaching fellows’ health insurance. This time, the university is asking fellows to pay 10 percent of those costs, citing the rising costs of health care in a poor economy.
“The university is trying to reach an agreement with the GTFF that acknowledges the financial realities that the university faces,” said Linda King, chief spokeswoman for the university at the bargaining table. “The economy has hurt Oregon very badly.”
The cost of health insurance to the university is about $5 million per year, which is three times more expensive than 10 years ago, according to the university’s most recent contract proposal. The teaching fellows have not contributed to premium increases for many years, and “were asked for only a modest additional contribution,” according to the proposal.

UO’s got plenty of money to write rich golden parachute contracts for top administrators. And if we can cut the compensation of our GTFs, we can even pay to redecorate new Frohnmayer’s offices and pay for his secretary.

From Ryan Buckley in the ODE, an update on GTF negotiations with UO, apparently there has been no contract for a year.

… Currently, GTFs are hired on a quarter-to-quarter basis with the fate of their employment resting solely in the hands of departmental advisors who assess their academic progress.
Yet, without any official criteria for evaluating individual instructors, personnel evaluation relies on a heavily subjective system — one that many GTFs resent.

“We want to push that we are teachers too, not just students, and we need to be judged accordingly,” Bernofsky said. “Many times re-hiring is not handled by the terms of the contract, and while there are departments that do it responsibly, it is just not consistent, which is what we are looking for.”

Interesting – I would have thought pay would have been the main issue. Many departments report that their current GTF / GRA salaries are 60% of what comparators pay, and that this is a serious problem recruiting top students. Of course the union represents the interests of those who choose to come here, not those who went somewhere else.