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 [email protected].
Thanks and best wishes.
**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 [email protected].
Best regards,
Missy Matella
Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations
University Human Resources


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

  1. Darby says:

    Hmm. Maybe Management would be willing to give reasonable COLA to GTFF and SEIU if we added “Strategic” to all their job titles!