Bargaining update: May 26, 2021

Quick bargaining update!

We just concluded our first bargaining session with PSU over our contract extension and limited economic reopener on three topics: fee remission, minimum hourly rate, and cost of living adjustment.  

GEU opened the day with the following proposal:

  1. 100% student fee remission, including the $350 one-time matriculation fee (previous contract: 80% remission for AY2020-21, excluding matriculation fee)
  2. $18.86 minimum hourly rate (based on the MIT’s Multnomah county living wage calculator; previous contract AY2020-21 had a $15.87 minimum)
  3. Cost of Living adjustment of 3.9% based on Western CPI (the metric we use in our previous contract to determine COLA; our last COLA raise AY2020-21 was 1.4%)

PSU administration countered with the following proposal:

  1. 100% student fee remission, except the $350 one-time matriculation fee 
  2. $16.25 minimum hourly rate citing budgetary restrictions.
  3. Cost of living adjustment of 0.75% citing budgetary restrictions.

There’s clearly a big gap between these two proposals.  After a year of hardship and remote work, it’s more important than ever to bring up the minimum wage for our lowest-paid GAs, and make sure we get a cost of living increase so we don’t in effect take a pay cut every year.  

How can we get a fair contract? We need our members to show up to support us at bargaining as observers, and check your emails or reach out to organizing@pdxgeu.org and bargaining@pdxgeu.org to get involved in our union.

Our next bargaining session tomorrow May 27 at 10am.  

To join the bargaining session as an observer, look for a Zoom link and password in your email before 10am tomorrow! 
If we aren’t in the bargaining Zoom, we are our caucus room.  This is a private room for the GEU team to talk amongst ourselves and our members.  Contact info@pdxgeu.org for details how to join the bargaining session as an observer.

Bargaining Update: 2018-02-16

At about 2:30am on Saturday morning, the GEU and PSU bargaining teams signed an outline of a complete economic agreement.

Here’s the gist:

  • 3-year contract, no reopeners

  • $184 one-time bonus for all GAs in the Spring, (equals 40% fee remission, before taxes).

  • Annual raises for everyone, based on the Portland-Vancouver-Salem CPIU, with a floor of 1.5% and a ceiling of 3.5% (same deal AAUP has)

  • 0.3 minimum FTE starting in the Fall, up from the current 0.15.

  • Increase to minimum hourly rate of 5.64% this summer, 3.33% in Fall 2018, 3.22% in Fall 2019, 3.19% in Fall 2020.  This (plus the new minimum FTE) takes the minimum monthly salary from $355/month now to $825/month in Fall 2020.

  • Mandatory fee subsidies (excluding matriculation fee) for all GAs at 45% starting Fall 2018, 60% starting Fall 2019, 80% starting Fall 2020

  • Joint health insurance working group empowered to access census, claims data, write requests for proposals, etc., which will produce a report just in time to inform the next round of contract negotiations.

Although this contract is a compromise, there is a lot to be proud of in the work that we ALL did to create a contract that sees immediate monetary benefits for GAs. To put this first contract into context, CGE’s first contract in 2001 established (regarding economic issues) only a minimum salary rate and an annual $330 per GA per year for health insurance (for more info on CGE’s contract evolution, click here). In addition to establishing a minimum salary rate and a working group to do the leg work for future health care coverage, our contract includes a Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA), a minimum FTE, annual increases to the minimum salary rate, and a large percentage of fees remitted.

We’re working on an analysis of the total cost to PSU of the contract, and will send that information out when we have it.

Bargaining Update: 2018-02-15

Hey folks,

We met with PSU admin last week for our first mediation session.  A whole lot happened, but we just don’t have time to write it up.  We’ve prepared counterproposals that make significant concessions, they’re linked below in a matrix format that includes our previous proposal, PSU’s most recent proposal, our current proposal, and some notes we’ve provided to explain why we proposed what we did.

 

Come to mediation tomorrow!  It’s now or never.  We’re meeting in MCB 316 (the Mt. Rainier room) from 9am to 4pm, and GEU will be providing free homemade lunch (vegan curry) at noon for _all observers_.

 

Tuition and Fee Remission Matrix 02.12.18_GEU

Complete Agreement Matrix 02.12.18

Work Life Balance Matrix 02.12

Health and Wellbeing Matrix 02.12.18

Professional Development Matrix 02.12.18

Transportation Matrix 02.12.18_GEU

Leave Matrix 02.12.18

Compensation Matrix 02.12.18

minimum_monthly_salary_table

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.

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.