GEU and PSU met for our initial Fall 2017 bargaining session on Friday. We were blown away to see so many GAs packing the room throughout the day, and moved by the bravery of three GAs who stood up in front of the teams to speak about their commitment to their work at PSU and their struggles making basic ends meet with the compensation received for that work.
During bargaining on Friday, PSU acknowledged that streetcar passes for GAs are, as an employment benefit, pertinent to a mandatory subject of bargaining. They further acknowledged that per the PECBA and relevant case law, status quo must be maintained during negotiations for all mandatory subjects, including this one, until our new contract is ratified. In other words, PSU is legally obligated to maintain this employment benefit at least until we ratify our contract. We won’t ratify the contract until after bargaining concludes, so PSU is likely obligated to offer free streetcar passes to GAs through Fall term, though when negotiations conclude and ratification occurs will be up to the GEU and PSU bargaining teams, and GEU members’ vote on the contract. Admin is meeting this week and will provide an official response to GEU by Friday.
Our part in this: To get a better idea of how many passes will be necessary and determine which GAs may need reimbursement for passes already purchased, please fill out this survey ASAP.
Additionally, the bargaining team presented our research contextualizing the GAs’ stories with data from other universities, and with the words of GAs who responded to last year’s GEU member survey. We encourage you to look through the slides we presented here. Much of the data focuses on our Oregon neighbors Oregon State University and University of Oregon, and University of Illinois at Chicago, one of PSU’s IPEDS peers. We felt these universities were of particular relevance because they have established unions for graduate employees, and give us a picture of what PSU could be like after GEU has had a few negotiation cycles to advocate for GAs here.
If you don’t have time to look at the slides, one important take away is that after individual health insurance, mandatory fees, and median October 2016 rent for one bedroom in a four-bedroom rental, median salary graduate employees at all these universities took home more than $1000 more every month than the $114.20 per month a median salary GA at PSU had left for taxes, utilities, food, transportation, and all other expenses in October 2016.
We’ll be back at the table on Friday, October 20th – join us!