GEU represents nearly 700 graduate teaching assistants, research assistants, and administrative assistants at PSU. GEU is member-led, which means that members drive and execute the mission, priorities, and actions of our organization.
Organizing started in 2015, with recognition and bargaining starting in 2016. On Saturday, February 17th 2018 the university and union settled on our first Union contract! Gains made in this contract reduced fees significantly, increased salaries, gave workers a path for resolving workplace disputes, protected workers from working over paid hours, and more.
The GEU represents both the Bargaining Unit and Members, but what’s the difference? When a labor union represents a particular group of workers in a specific situation or institution, this group is defined as the bargaining unit. The bargaining unit is made up of all laborers regardless of union membership. Union members are workers from the bargaining unit who pay dues and often actively participate in their representative union. Members have certain privileges that nonmembers of the bargaining unit do not.
Who is a part of our Bargaining Unit?
Since we represent our entire bargaining unit, we must explicitly define who and what that entails:
“Section 3.1 – Definition of the Bargaining Unit
Per GEU’s certification with the Employment Relations Board, the current definition of our bargaining unit is as follows and will be superseded by the most recent of any subsequent definitions issued by the Employment Relations Board: All Graduate Assistants employed by Portland State University, including Graduate Administrative Assistants, Graduate Research Assistants, and Graduate Teaching Assistants, but excluding supervisory and confidential employees.“
Essentially, GEU represents all graduate employees with few exceptions. If a graduate student is hired by someone at PSU, then whomever is employing a graduate student must adhere to our contract, regardless of union membership.
Who is part of GEU membership?
A member is a graduate employee who consciously and actively signed a membership card to become a dues paying participant of our union. More members means more bargaining power and strength. Membership is defined in our constitution:
“3.2(a) Employees included in any bargaining unit represented by the local, or in a bargaining unit being organized by the local, shall be eligible for Regular membership. Regular members in good standing shall be entitled to all rights and privileges in Section 3.3. “
As a Regular Member employees are entitled to the following rights:
“Section 3.3 – GEU Member Bill of Rights
All members of the GEU in good standing are afforded the following rights:
1. The right to the full benefits of union membership, collective bargaining, and union support without regard for bias or fear of discrimination of any kind
2. The right to file grievances against the University for matters pertaining to their job and the Collective Bargaining Agreement as outlined in Section 14.7 in keeping with Article 10 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement
3. Weingarten rights which include the right to union advising and support during investigations and disciplinary matters
4. The right to their full voice and opinions regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement and GEU operations through voting and and involvement in union operations
5. The right to self-organize for collective, member-driven action
6. The right to serve on any GEU committee (besides removal due to continued absences (see Section 5.3) and decisions made as a result of internal review (see Article 22))
7. The right to appeal decisions made by the Executive Board or a committee according to the internal review process as outlined in Section 22.1
8. The right to run for any officer position within GEU
9. The right to create petitions and referenda for the GEU membership and Constitution