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:
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.
Students, faculty, and staff,
In the coming days you will likely hear discussion around campus and in the media about our contract negotiations with our graduate student employee union, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF).
I want to assure you that the University of Oregon is working hard to find common ground and avert a strike, but it is also fully prepared to deal with the unpleasant possibility of a walkout.
Later this week, both sides will sit down for the first of two mediation sessions. It is our hope that the GTFF bargaining team will see the benefits of the university’s current offer and will work with us to bring negotiations to a close.
The current proposal offers the equivalent of a 9 percent pay increase, over two years, on minimum graduate student salaries. Also included is the extension of full health care, vision and dental benefits for the students and their families, including for GTFs working as few as eight hours per week during the academic year.
Beyond employment benefits that exceed those of many Oregonians working in the private sector, our graduate students receive full tuition waivers in their role as graduate teaching fellows. This means that many will earn their graduate degree with very few extra out-of-pocket costs. In fact, 72 percent of UO GTFs do not take out student loans.
We trust that the degrees they earn at UO will prepare them for careers as teachers, researchers, and administrators in the public sector and for employment in the private sector that will maximize their potential for success.
The university has moved a great deal during these contract negotiations and we are proud of the progress we have made. We hope that the GTFF leadership is ready to demonstrate its willingness to find common ground so that graduate students across the institution can return their full attention to their education and to helping the university teach our undergraduate students. Contract negotiations can be challenging to get the best out of your contract; you may want to look into getting legal advice – learn more from Shakfeh Law.
The message that has been lost in all the rhetoric is the fact that, first and foremost, these GTFs are students. They are among the best and brightest at the University of Oregon. They are in training to become first-rate scholars and researchers, poised to make careers for themselves and support their families. The offer the university has on the table helps these students achieve their goals.
We look forward to bringing this negotiation to a close and to working together in the future.
Acting Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Bragging that 28% of your FUNDED grad students still have to take out loans doesn’t seem to be a winner.
Lying about who was responsible for the major dental coverage is a classy move too.
What was the lie, exactly?
I think this is the lie: those gains in healthcare benefits are a result of negotiations between the GTFF’s healthcare trust (which has one, I think, UO admin rep and a number of GTFs on its board) and the health insurance provider. These are not extra benefits the University is offering–I think the Trust negotiated well enough that the increase in healthcare premiums ended up being nil, even with the better benefits. The UO actually fought against these increases during at least the one bargaining session I attended personally. So now to claim that this is something they are offering (and that it somehow represents an increase in total compensation), is a bunch of bullshit. In fact, I think these benefits are already in place for the current academic year. GTFF members, did I represent this correctly?
Healthcare premiums actually decreased by $250k a year.
Also worth noting is that there are only 3 dentist offices in Eugene that take the GTF insurance. So it is “comprehensive” if you don’t mind waiting for an appointment and don’t mind not having much of a choice.
And it would be interesting to know how many of the other 72% are being supported by gifts or loans from family, spousal income, etc. Because the juxtaposition with “very few extra out-of-pocket costs” makes it sound like they aren’t taking out loans because they’re being paid enough, and I bet that’s simply not the case.
Also interesting that the email elides the paid leave issue, on which the administration’s messaging has run the gamut from shockingly confused to morally bankrupt. I guess they’ve decided to pretend that’s no longer an issue. Perhaps we can remind them of it tomorrow.
Once again, Bronet has utilized her access to every email address at the University of Oregon to try to spin the public image of labor negotiations in favor of the employer while also using very specific language to belittle the role of GTFs on campus.
I am not just training to be a scholar and researcher – I already am one. And I have been teaching courses for over six years. Many of my students tell me that they almost never speak to their professors, but rather that GTFs are often the only instructors with whom they have any face time. We are THE FACE of the university and our students know it and support us. Should we strike, many undergraduates will walk out with us. The University of Oregon should not underestimate the importance of GTFs and the support that we have in asking for “benefits” that in most developed countries are considered WORKERS’ RIGHTS.
“The message that has been lost in all the rhetoric is the fact that, first and foremost, these GTFs are students…They are in training to become first-rate scholars and researchers, poised to make careers for themselves and support their families.”
Translation: The GTFF has been too successful in pointing out that GTFs make a full-time commitment and perform valuable labor for the University that deserves to be fairly compensated. So we’re going to sweep that under the rug by acting like we’re doing these “students” a big favor by paying them at all. Everybody knows students pay for school, and not the other way around. They can worry about making ends meet after they graduate. If they graduate, that is.
Cut to the chase:
The BOT, not Coltrane, wants success at the lowest cost possible. If THEY cared about the GTFF, this would have been resolved LONG before now.