Bargaining Update: 2017-12-08

Yesterday we presented our counter comprehensive package to the PSU administration, including Tuition and Fee Remission, Compensation, Health and Well Being (Insurance), Transportation, Professional Development, work-life balance, and leave. While bargaining in the morning, GEU activists presented the administration with our petition for PSU to subsidize health insurance for GA’s and their dependents. PSUFA and AAUP came and stood in solidarity, demonstrating to PSU their support for our efforts to obtain affordable health insurance for all employees. In response to all of the observers in the room, a member of the administration left the room and came back in with the fire marshall, who asked if we would remove some of our observers. We refused, reminding the administration that all negotiations are public and have the potential to affect each and every graduate employee in a substantial way. In a hurry, PSU arranged for bargaining to move to a larger room that could accommodate everyone.


After KATU contacted PSU for a statement regarding our press release and petition delivery action, the PSU team left the bargaining table to meet with President Shoureshi and members of the Executive Council. They returned to inform us that they no longer felt they could trust GEU to continue the bargaining process without the assistance of a mediator, despite the fact that GEU had come to the table with a full set of counter proposals and made many concessions.  They cited the petition delivery action, GEU’s contact with the media, and GEU’s publication to members of PSU’s bargaining proposals as evidence that negotiations could not move forward, despite clear evidence of continuing progress on both sides.  In short, it is our experience that PSU has retaliated against GEU for organizing effectively, promoting democratic participation in bargaining, and sharing our story with the press.  Specifically, we feel that PSU has refused to bargain on Sunday as we had previously agreed and initiating the PECBA mediation process, which could be used to limit the scope of remaining negotiations.  PSU could have easily deferred filing the mediation paperwork until Monday, to accommodate continued bargaining progress on Sunday, but they chose not to prioritize that option.  You can read more about mediation under the PECBA hereWe look forward to continuing the progress we have been making, and to PSU fulfilling their stated intent to use mediation as a way to reach a better agreement.


We passionately and repeatedly made the case for continuing our existing negotiation process, citing continuing progress and the need to reach a comprehensive solution, but were unable to persuade admin to even honor their previous commitment to bargain on Sunday.


Summary of GEU comprehensive package counter:


After Admin’s Tuition and Fee Remission counter proposal offering to cover just 33% of mandatory fees for GAs (not including the matriculation fee or health insurance subsidies), GEU re-proposed language requiring PSU to cover 100% of mandatory fees including the matriculation fee. Read the full proposal here.


GEU’s counter to Admin’s Compensation article re-proposed a minimum salary of $1,005 for all GAs, as well a catch up cost of living adjustment of $75 per month for all GAs. Additionally we re-proposed using the CPIU for the Portland Metro area as a metric for increasing GAs salaries yearly.  Acknowledging PSU’s objections to making mandatory the degree milestone pay increases that some units implement (e.g. a raise when you advance to PhD candidacy), we replaced our language standardizing pay levels with language requiring simply that departments that do use levels pay GAs at the new rate immediately after advancing, even if that compensation comes in the form of back pay. Read the full proposal here .


GEU’s Health and Well Being article (health insurance) re-proposed a 61% subsidy for GAs on the current PSU health plan as well as a working group between PSU and GEU to collaborate on options for a long-term permanent plan for GAs. Read the full proposal here.


GEU’s counterproposal on a joint Work-Life Balance Task Force largely accepted the framework for a such a body previously proposed by PSU, but eliminated the requirement that PSUFA, AAUP, and GEU jointly participate in the task force.  We in no way object to exploring such an arrangement, but believe that it is necessary for PSUFA, AAUP, and GEU to jointly agree to participate before memorializing their participation in our contract.  Further, we reintroduced language requiring the task force to investigate alternative mechanisms for childcare subsidy disbursements from e.g. the Jim Sells Childcare Subsidy, to acknowledge the challenges our members face using existing mechanisms. Read the full proposal here.


For transportation and parking, we reproposed the memorialization of the existing pre-tax payment plan for all parking passes and bus passes, stressing the need for GAs to be able to spread out costs instead of paying large, one time, payments. Read the full proposal here.


In GEU’s counterproposal concerning leave, we conceded front loading sick leave for GAs re-proposed language around GAs being able to take leave time for various reasons, e.g. medical leave, family leave, leave for voting/elections, and immigration hearings without being in jeopardy of losing their appointment. Previously Admin had struck language around allowing international GAs leave for obligations such as consular elections and immigration hearings. Read the full proposal here.


With professional development, we continue to stress that it is in the benefit of PSU as a educational and research institute to provide professional development to their employees. They remained firm that tuition remission is professional development and the only type of financial assistance they will provide in this context. We reproposed a professional development fund that would allow GA’s access to money that would help offset conference, training, and other professional development costs. Read the full proposal here.


GEU proposed counters on Term of Agreement and Complete Agreement that removed PSU’s zipper clause and compromised on reopeners.  Read the full proposals here and here.