Bargaining Update: October 27th, 2017

Today the GEU bargaining team met with PSU’s team.

Continuing saga of the information request: Based on our previous Union Rights TA, PSU has implemented a feature on Banweb to allow GAs to electronically sign a FERPA waiver for providing information to GEU.  We questioned whether the existing waiver language actually encompasses phone number and address, and urged PSU to fulfill their legal obligation under the PECBA (to provide a reasonable accommodation for our information request for phone numbers and addresses) by sending out a notification to GAs that the waiver is up on Banweb and needs to be filled out so that we can get the data we need to represent our bargaining unit.  This is the bare minimum that could be construed as a reasonable accommodation, and we look forward to PSU cooperating in this endeavor, to avoid unnecessary and expensive litigation.  PSU confirmed today that contrary to their prior claims, Oregon public records law has no bearing on this matter.

This week, PSU announced that it is renegotiating its previous agreement with Portland Streetcar Inc. (PSI) to provide free streetcar access to anyone with a PSU ID, retroactively effective as of October 1st through the end of the fiscal year (June 30th, 2018) (with reimbursements for anyone who purchased a pass for October, get in touch with us if you did).  GEU and other unions on campus, folks in the Chemistry department, and many others have been putting pressure on PSU to reinstate this benefit, which many of us need to get to work (especially folks at CLSB), and we take heart in the fact that we were able to collectively make our voices heard in this matter.  We look forward to negotiating a continuation of this policy for the duration of our first contract.

The administration proposed what they call their first full economic package, which included articles on: tuition remission, fee remission, salary, term of agreement, and leave of absence.

Tuition remission:

EVERY GA will be eligible for at least 9 credits of tuition remission, except during Summer Term.


Fee remission:

University Responsibility 10% of mandatory fees (not including matriculation fee) $15.33/month
GA Responsibility   90% of mandatory fees.

All other fines, fees and charges


This comes out to an additional $46 per term to offset the rising rent, health care, fee, and general cost of living costs.  Last week, we told admin we looked forward to seeing language that covers 100% of mandatory fees, $153.33/month, and we’ll propose language next week that includes matriculation fee coverage.


It was proposed that the minimum hourly rate would increase 5.6% in the first year and roughly 3% per year for the next three years. Based on salary information from last fall, roughly 72% of GAs would receive no financial benefit. For a GA working the minimum hourly rate, with the minimum FTE (.15), this first year increase only means an additional $20 per month before taxes.

Last week, we told admin we looked forward to seeing language that: establishes a minimum salary of $1005/month, which is the annual federal poverty level divided by 12; increases all GA salaries by a flat $105/month to account for recent cost of living increases in Portland; and annually increases all GA salaries by the Portland metro CPIU or 2%, whichever is higher.

Term of Agreement

PSU Admin proposed a 4-year term of agreement, with no opportunity to reopen the agreement to address changes in the interim. As graduate employees, we need a shorter term of agreement to guarantee continuity in our bargaining efforts, instead of having teams that have no previous experience. This requires a shorter term of agreement. We also believe that any contract–and especially a first contract–requires a process for revisiting the language during implementation.


Notably, there were no proposals on health care, professional development, transportation and parking, or child care. This omission communicates to GAs that university support for those needs is not a consideration.  Last week, we told admin that we looked forward to seeing language that covers 61% of health insurance premiums for the PSU student plan and makes partner and dependent coverage under this plan available to all GAs.

Thanks to all of the GAs that came out to support bargaining efforts. Come out next week when we respond to admin’s articles on fees and terms of agreement, as well as bring our own health care article.

If you or your colleagues need more out of this agreement, please show up and have your voice heard. Come out to the General Membership Meeting (GMM) this coming Wednesday, November 1st at 4 pm in the First Congregational Church.