Bargaining Update: 2017-12-01

Today GEU met with admin and received their comprehensive economic counterproposal.  Although we are making progress towards an agreement, a large gap remains between our proposals and admin’s.  Despite this apparent fact, admin is pushing harder than we have ever seen them push to finish this process in December, even though today they presented language on several articles for the first time.  They proposed a series of bargaining dates during the upcoming holiday break; we responded that we’d be willing to meet on Sunday, December 10th, but expressed our concern that GAs would not be available to participate in the bargaining process further on in the break (they proposed the 22nd, the 29th, and January 5th).  We spent the entire afternoon at turns proposing various sets of bargaining dates during Winter Term and asking admin why they are unwilling to schedule them, all to no avail.  At this point, because PSU is both unwilling to propose language anywhere near ours and pushing to conclude negotiations in less than 10 days, we’re concerned that PSU is not willing to finish this contract.  

Come to bargaining Friday, December 8th (9am-5pm in MCB 541) and Sunday, December 10th (9am-5pm, location TBD) to demand that PSU continue to engage in this process until we achieve a real agreement.  We’re making progress, we just need to keep it up!


Health and Well-Being:  Last session, we proposed that PSU and GEU set up a joint working group to investigate a long-term health insurance group plan solution for GAs, with the requirement that PSU and GEU bargain over the working group’s findings.  PSU watered this provision down to reserve the right to not bargain or otherwise implement the group’s recommendation, and acknowledged this explicitly during today’s negotiations.

Additionally, we proposed that PSU cover 61% of GAs’ PSU student plan health insurance premiums until the working group comes up with a permanent solution, allow GAs to enroll their dependents in that plan, and also subsidize dependents’ premiums to the same extent.  PSU again claimed that this provision is illegal and could not be included in our contract, but rather than proposing an alternate solution for interim coverage, they crossed out this language in its entirety, and explicitly stated that they have no intention of providing an interim solution during today’s negotiations.  Combined with their other change removing the requirement to bargain over the working group’s proposed permanent solution, this amounts to PSU proposing a contract that requires them to do nothing about covering our health insurance premiums.  Read PSU’s full proposal here.


Compensation: Last session, we proposed that PSU establish a minimum GA salary of $1005/month, which is the annual federal poverty level divided by 12; increase all GA salaries by a flat $105/month to account for recent cost of living increases in Portland; and annually increase all GA salaries by the Portland metro CPIU or 2%, whichever is higher. PSU rejected all of our ideas and reverted back their initial proposal with one addition of a 1% yearly increase to all GA’s making above the minimum hourly rate. Just as a refresher on their last proposal, the minimum hourly rate would increase 5.63% in the first year and roughly 3% per year for the next three years. At ratification, that comes to $14.48/hr, which would benefit 28% of all GAs. The remaining GAs, as stated above, would see a 1% annual increase to their salaries. The university has repeatedly stated their interest in making compensation more equitable for GAs. This means bringing up the bottom earners. Take a look at how PSU’s proposed salary increases and our proposed salary increases compare at making GA compensation more equitable.  Read PSU’s full proposal here.


Leave: Last session, we proposed (among other things) that the parental, family, and medical leave provisions afforded to full-time employees by OFLA and FMLA be extended to all GAs.  We made this proposal apply to all GAs because, according to PSU’s own calculations based on AY2016-17 data, between 3 and 19 GAs, all of whom have additional non-GA employment at PSU, were eligible for any OFLA or FMLA leave (besides parental leave under OFLA, which applies broadly) based on the number of hours worked annually, as OFLA and FMLA are largely targeted towards full-time employees.  Graduate employees at OSU and UO largely have these benefits through their contracts (and more), regardless of the number of hours worked, and our proposal was designed to simply achieve parity with those folks.  PSU’s counter proposal reiterated the requirement that these types of leave would only be available to GAs who met the hour requirements for FMLA and OFLA, effectively excluding the vast majority (~780) of GAs at PSU.  PSU is pushing complex language that applies to almost nobody, to obfuscate the fact that they have no intention of giving basic leave to most GAs.

Additionally, PSU crossed out our provisions protecting international GAs’ rights to leave to travel to a consular agency to vote, and to attend required immigration hearings, instead requiring that international GAs use personal leave for these purposes, which means obtaining approval from their supervisor and (if the leave is longer than 5 days) filing a Personal Leave of Absence request.  If the supervisor or HR denies such a request, the GA would have to choose between voting or attending an immigration hearing and keeping their job.  This is unacceptable and inhumane, and sends international GAs a clear message about PSU’s priorities.

Finally, PSU completely removed our language allowing a GA to agree in writing with their supervisor to arrange their work schedule so that they could, for example, finish their work duties and then take a week and a half off the travel home for the holidays.  This is a common informal practice currently, and we assumed it would be a no-brainer, but PSU’s proposed language would require the GA to file a Personal Leave of Absence request with HR to go home for the holidays.  Read PSU’s full proposal here.


Tuition and Fee Remission: PSU moved from 10% ($15.33/month) fee coverage to 33% ($50.59/month).  While this is progress, grad employees have 90% fee coverage at OSU, and 91% at UO, so we still have a ways to go.  Read PSU’s full proposal here.


Professional Development: PSU completely rejected our proposal for a professional development fund GAs could use to pay for conference travel and fees, equipment, etc., providing no counterproposal.  Read GEU’s rejected proposal here.


Transportation: PSU summarily rejected language proposing that GAs be able to purchase a PSU parking permit pre-tax amortized over several paychecks (faculty get this), language memorializing the option currently available to all students to buy a discounted Tri-Met Flex Pass, and language proposing that GAs be able to purchase a discounted PSU Tri-Met Employee Passport pre-tax amortized over several paychecks (faculty also get this).  Further, they proposed that starting July 1, 2018, GAs will no longer have free streetcar access.  Read PSU’s full proposal here.


Term of Agreement, Complete Agreement: PSU proposed that we have a 4-year contract instead of a 2-year contract.  Because GAs often graduate in 4 years or less, the practical impact of this change is that each new bargaining team would have no firsthand knowledge of what happened during previous contract negotiations, while the core admin bargaining team would retain this knowledge and the advantages it conveys in negotiations.  

Further, they rejected our proposal that GEU should have the right to reopen certain articles for interim negotiations if needed.  PSU even rejected our proposal that we bargain affected language if the Trump administration issues executive orders that directly impact our contract, or congress passes laws that impact it.

Effectively, PSU intends for it to be impossible to fix problems with our contract in during a 4-year period unless they are explicitly required by law to do so.  Read PSU’s full proposal here.


Family Friendly Workplace: PSU presented language where GEU would participate in a joint task-force looking at broad work/life balance issues at PSU.  We are looking into this.  Read PSU’s full proposal here.