Analysis from CSN, a regular reader:
What’s the outcome?
The big story is the flattening of the GE wage scale. This is both through the changes to the minimums to bring GE I and GE II up to GE III, and through the cutoff implemented for ATB raises for those above the minimum at $50,000 “base pay”. That’s a 9-month 1.0 FTE equivalent salary — obviously take-home is much smaller than that.
The result of all the percentages thrown around is that in 2025, the minimum base GE pay (for all levels) will be $48,426 (versus $33.3k/$37.6k/$39.8k today). If you are a GE currently sitting at a $45k base rate, the ATB increases will get you up to $53.5k in 2025. If you are currently sitting at a $50k base rate, the ATB increases will get you up to $56.2k in 2025.
I think even if you are a GE III, you’re pretty happy — it’s a 10.5% raise effective retroactively to the start of fall term 2023, and if you are sticking around for the next couple of years while you finish your dissertation (or wait for a good job market), you are getting 5% raises every year.
One big takeaway for me is that it seems like the Admin had a pretty strong desire to limit GE base pay to below $50k as much as possible, which I have a hunch has to do with their bargaining with the classified staff. If I’m a Dean, I’m not too upset about the overall picture. I don’t think this is the fundamental shift in GE compensation that some were talking/excited/worried about.
How “well” did each side do?
I compared the outcomes to the original proposals from each side. Part of the story here is that the GTFF initially wanted to reduce the length of the contract to 2 years, so they didn’t initially specify anything for 2025. But they pretty quickly gave that up.
You can slice this up in different ways to get different numbers, but the story is the same: Movement happens where incentives are aligned. In Year 1, relative to initial proposals, Admin moved substantially toward GTFF for GE Is (the final outcome is 83% of the way toward the GTFF initial offer from the Admin initial offer), and GTFF moved very substantially toward Admin for GE IIIs (the final outcome is 5% of the way toward GTFF from Admin initial offer). For Y2 and Y3, it looks a bit closer to what Admin offered than what GTFF asked for.
From the GTFF press release:
Graduate Employees Reach Historic Tentative Deal with UO, Halting Strike Plans
EUGENE: With two days left before a strike was set to begin, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF-AFT Local 3544) announced on Monday evening a tentative contract agreement with the University of Oregon. Graduate instructors and researchers will remain at work while union members vote on whether to ratify the contract.
“This deal simply could not have been secured without the incredible energy, real passion, and diligent preparation that our members devoted to building a credible strike threat,” said Cy Abbo, GTFF co-lead negotiator. “Our members put all of their power into this fight, and won.”
GTFF has been bargaining with the UO administration since March 2023 over the wages and working conditions to be set forth in its next three-year contract. From the beginning, salary was a major sticking point, with GTFF calling for raises to match the historic rates of inflation workers have faced in the past few years. On January 5, 2024, the union announced a formal intent to strike beginning on January 17, citing the need for wage increases that would bring all graduate employees at UO closer to a living wage.
But negotiations on January 11—coupled with a rally and practice picket aended by scores of GTFF members and allies—yielded significant progress, which continued on January 15 after the union returned to the table with additional power built through a General Membership Meeting aended by nearly 600 GEs. On Monday evening, the GTFF bargaining team announced a tentative agreement on a 3-year contract affecting wages, benefits, and working conditions for over 1,400 graduate employees at UO.
The deal announced on Monday will bring the minimum salary of graduate employees at the UO up to $2,550 a month (based on 0.49 FTE), with cumulative increases ranging from 18.98% to 45.32% over the life of the 3-year contract (dependent on GE level and rate). The union also won new targeted support for caregivers (including improved childcare resources) and international GEs (including visa and SEVIS fees, housing resources, and more). Additionally, new contract
language includes improved anti-discrimination protections for caste, citizenship, and gender identity; 4 weeks of additional Family/Medical Leave; expanded graduate hardship funds and qualifying events; and the university will increase its contribution to employees’ health insurance premiums and decrease fees in the summer months.
Leslie Selcer, GTFF president and a member of the bargaining team, said the deal would transform the university’s approach to graduate programs, making advanced degrees more accessible to a larger and more diverse group of graduate employees for years to come.
“This fight has always been about more than just us. We want the UO to fulfill its mission as a public university that serves students from all backgrounds, not just privileged ones,” Selcer said. “We are proud to say that our union has pushed the entire institution forward today.”