Why isn’t President Scholz taking responsibility for the UO administration’s GTFF pay offers?

Dear faculty colleagues, 

I am writing about the status of bargaining with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation and to address academic and research continuity planning so that faculty members are informed as negotiations continue and a potential GTFF strike approaches.   

GTFF Bargaining Status Update 

The bargaining teams met yesterday to continue negotiations with the state-appointed mediator. There was movement on salary increases through counterproposals from each party. The UO team presented an updated salary offer at the end of the session, and the bargaining teams and state mediator agreed to meet on Monday morning so the GTFF team can respond to the UO offer.  

UO’s latest salary offer to GEs includes: 

  • Minimum pay: $35.36 per hour.
    $2,537.97 per month at 0.49 full-time equivalency. 
  • Double-digit percentage increase for all: 
    At least 10 percent first-year increase for all GEs with a 1.0 FTE base salary under $50,000. 
  • New minimum pay salary structure:
    Minimum pay for all GE I, GE II, and GE III set at the same rate, which is proposed to be 10 percent higher than the current GE III rate.  
  • Tuition and fee benefits:
    UO continues to pay all tuition and fees,  (except $61 per term). 
  • Health insurance provided for all GEs, their partners, and families:
    UO continues to pay 95 percent of the premium. For context, GEs with individual health insurance currently pay $37/month in premiums in any term in which they have an appointment. 

Comparison to other public AAU institutions GE salary and benefits: 

  • UO GEs would earn above average minimum take-home pay for graduate employees compared to peer institutions when adjusted for cost-of-living differences between regions. Detailed analysis is available on the HR website
  • UO GE health plan is far more generous and expensive, costing annually $2,500 more per GE than it costs at other AAU institutions.

Latest UO offer by the numbers:

Minimum Salary Increases

 Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
GE I* 31.21%3.75%3.75% 38.71% 
GE II*16.15%3.75% 3.75% 23.65% 
GE III 10%3.75% 3.75% 17.50% 

*The GE I and GE II salary rate minimum will be set the same as the GE III salary rate minimum.

Across-the-Board Increases: Base-rate Threshold = $50,000 at 1.0 FTE (9-month) 

 Below ThresholdAbove Threshold 
Year 1 10%4% 
Year 2  3%3% 
Year 3  3%3% 
Total 16% 10% 

Additional details about counterproposals exchanged at the mediation session, including a comparison between the UO and GTFF offers, are available on the HR website

Continuity Planning 

Faculty instructors and research groups should continue to develop coverage plans for work performed by GEs. Refer to the frequently asked questions for academics and research for guidance. 

As noted in the academic continuity FAQ, faculty lecture instructors of record with associated labs and discussions should be prepared in case GEs are absent during the strike period. Potential strategies to prepare for GE absences from labs or discussions include:  

  • Modify lectures to incorporate material from labs and discussions.  
  • Use existing or create asynchronous Canvas modules that could replace labs and discussion content. 
  • Adjust course grading rubrics to reduce reliance on lab/discussion grades. 
  • With any strategy, ensure consistency across lab/discussion sections associated with the same lecture because some discussion or lecture leaders might be present while others are absent. 

We will continue to keep you apprised of developments with regular updates about bargaining and progress on continuity planning. You can stay informed about the status of the GTFF bargaining and the potential strike by visiting the HR website.  

Best regards, 

Karen Ford
Interim Provost and Senior Vice President 

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12 Responses to Why isn’t President Scholz taking responsibility for the UO administration’s GTFF pay offers?

  1. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Just a guess — he seems like a guy who will go to great lenghths to please and avoid giving offense.

    So he may come through with an offer that saves the day and maked him the good guy.

  2. Old Man Shouts at Clouds says:

    Can someone please give me some longer term context and help me stop being an old man who shouts at clouds? I just can’t see how this isn’t going to result in GE positions being cut. And what is this saying to the rest of us, when we have 1.0 FTE employees on campus making the same amount the GEs are saying they deserve for .49 FTE? I try so hard to never root against our students and I want the GEs to get what they need, but these numbers feel like an insult to the rest of us. Someone please help me understand what the ripple effects are likely to be so I can go back to rooting for our students and colleagues.

    • Darkwing Duck says:

      Sure, I’ll answer this one.

      It only looks bad because Classified and lower level OA’s deserve far more pay than they receive.

      Instead, we’ll hire another VP of underwater basket weaving at 200k a year.

      Let’s not get upset when one mistreated betters their situation. Applaud their efforts and work/support the efforts to help other woefully underpaid groups.

    • dtl says:

      If someone is getting better wages, good for them! If someone else still has shitty wages, let’s get them better wages. Better wages pull up wages for other people — shit wages pull down wages for other people.

      The various union members need to fight and support EACH OTHER. Not fall into the “hey, why should they get better wages when my are still insultingly crap?!”

      No.

      Instead, “YEY! They are finally getting wages they deserve! And I should TOO!”

      Don’t be a tool for management. Don’t pit union/labor groups against each other.

      Unite and support each other and we raise up together.

    • CSN says:

      On the *number* of GE positions: It is probably true that in the long run an increase in the price of GE labor will result in fewer GE positions on campus, but I’m not sure how bad of an outcome that is. I think on the teaching side there is more and more demand for teaching by faculty by undergraduates, parents, and donors. And I think in the labs and so on the fact that our costs will be comparable to comparators means that we won’t be missing out on tons of big grants because of this. So I’m not super worried about this.

      On the pay comparison thing: I know it’s human to compare. The GTFF position is something like this. The position of being a GE isn’t just the hours one is working in the lab or in the classroom or what have you. Being a graduate employee requires doing all of the classwork as well. Add up *all* of that time, and it is definitely a full time experience, or more so. And there isn’t time left to have outside employment, so whatever they earn from the GE position has to pay for their living expenses. If that means the hourly rate looks “high” to some people, so be it.

      The analogy I like to use is apprenticeship: GEs are training to Do A Thing and a big chunk of that is learning-by-doing. The university benefits from that labor and the GEs are getting a (hopefully durable) education. But the GEs need to be able to live while they are doing it. Just as an apprentice blacksmith or other tradesperson would perhaps pay for some of the training to start but then would start getting paid once they reached a certain level.

      If you are feeling upset about your own pay, perhaps you should work together with your colleagues to demand higher compensation from your employer!

  3. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    Maybe more like — Scholz will be, maybe not the hero — is he Gary Cooper material? — then, the good guy.

    I hope they come up with something. The continuing strikes are hard on faculty and staff, and a turnoff to undergrads. A reason for faculty not to come here. I’m convinced this is damaging to UO.

  4. New Year Cat says:

    Thank you, Old Man! I too want to see GEs rewarded appropriately for their work, but feel conflicted. Classified staff are also in bargaining, and entering mediation, and also preparing for a possible strike if things don’t go well. Many staff can take far more than 4 years to see a base pay of $50,000 for full-time work — and those are the lucky, better-paid staff. Some of whom also have student loans to pay off. I hope the ripple effect will be higher salaries for classified staff too, but I suspect that won’t come without a major struggle. Classified are even lower than student workers in terms of importance to UO, it seems, although the universities can’t run without their labor.

    • thedude says:

      I think the only difference is where we compete for workers. We compete for profs and students from all across the nation. MOst of the classified staff are drawn from our local Eugenian talent pool. That said, due to wages raising quickly in the private sector, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are pressures for large raises among the SEIU workers.

      I also expect UO will fund some of the GE raises by shrinking the GE numbers because many faculty adapted their teaching to use less physical grading and more use of online automatic grading during Covid.

    • CSN says:

      I guess you’ll be happy to hear that by the end of the contract, the minimums for all GEs will still be below $50k ($48,426, to be precise). I don’t know exactly how many GEs are at the minimum, but I believe it to be more than half.

    • Anonymous says:

      While the base pay is ~$50,000. No GE is allowed to be payed above 0.49 FTE.

      There is a hope that a higher bass pay for grad students will motivate the university to increase the base pay for all employees and not just admins who make ~$200k+