Bargaining Update: October 6th

GEU and PSU met for our initial Fall 2017 bargaining session on Friday. We were blown away to see so many GAs packing the room throughout the day, and moved by the bravery of three GAs who stood up in front of the teams to speak about their commitment to their work at PSU and their struggles making basic ends meet with the compensation received for that work.

During bargaining on Friday, PSU acknowledged that streetcar passes for GAs are, as an employment benefit, pertinent to a mandatory subject of bargaining.  They further acknowledged that per the PECBA and relevant case law, status quo must be maintained during negotiations for all mandatory subjects, including this one, until our new contract is ratified.  In other words, PSU is legally obligated to maintain this employment benefit at least until we ratify our contract.  We won’t ratify the contract until after bargaining concludes, so PSU is likely obligated to offer free streetcar passes to GAs through Fall term, though when negotiations conclude and ratification occurs will be up to the GEU and PSU bargaining teams, and GEU members’ vote on the contract.  Admin is meeting this week and will provide an official response to GEU by Friday.

Our part in this: To get a better idea of how many passes will be necessary and determine which GAs may need reimbursement for passes already purchased, please fill out this survey ASAP.

Additionally, the bargaining team presented our research contextualizing the GAs’ stories with data from other universities, and with the words of GAs who responded to last year’s GEU member survey.  We encourage you to look through the slides we presented here. Much of the data focuses on our Oregon neighbors Oregon State University and University of Oregon, and University of Illinois at Chicago, one of PSU’s IPEDS peers.  We felt these universities were of particular relevance because they have established unions for graduate employees, and give us a picture of what PSU could be like after GEU has had a few negotiation cycles to advocate for GAs here.

If you don’t have time to look at the slides, one important take away is that after individual health insurance, mandatory fees, and median October 2016 rent for one bedroom in a four-bedroom rental, median salary graduate employees at all these universities took home more than $1000 more every month than the $114.20 per month a median salary GA at PSU had left for taxes, utilities, food, transportation, and all other expenses in October 2016.

We’ll be back at the table on Friday, October 20th – join us!

Bargaining Update: June 8th

Thanks once again for everyone who came to bargaining on Friday. Also a thank you to PSUFA as well.

We were able to TA two articles which had been sticking points for a while: Nondiscrimination, and Layoffs. In the layoff article we were able to assured that no one would be laid off due to low course enrollment and that in the rare event that a layoff occurs, all affected GAs would receive tuition remission for the term in which the layoff is to take effect.

The topics left on the table are:

  • Union rights
  • University rights
  • Evaluations
  • Grievance and Arbitration
  • Academic freedom
  • Intellectual property
  • Past practices

As things stand, the University does not want to include an article that addresses academic freedom. We have shown them our letter of support from AAUP and hope that we will be able to discuss this very important topic.

Friday’s bargaining session is the last one of the term. We are hoping to finish as many of the non-economic articles as possible, however we don’t know right now if we can get all of these articles signed on Friday without making significant concessions, so we may need to schedule additional bargaining sessions. Come by on Friday at URBN 220, URBN 310 for caucuses 9am-4pm to stand together as GAs and demand the rights, information, and protections we deserve, and help the bargaining team finish the first half of this contract.

Bargaining update: May 26th

On Friday, May 26th, we met with Administration Team, presenting language on Evaluations, Strike/Lockout, Union Rights, and Layoff. The only remaining non-economic article we have yet to present is Intellectual Property, which we’re redrafting in response to PSU’s recent draft policy on Copyright Ownership. Admin sought clarification regarding our most recent proposal on Grievance and Arbitration, and will be countering on Friday.  Admin also presented a counter on Non-Discrimination, maintaining their position that discrimination based on legally protected classes should not be grievable under our contract.

We signed a TA on No Strike/Lockout. This section includes a definition of what a strike is and our ability to strike, all of which is defined by Oregon law. This section also addresses the ability and limitations for the University to change our work duties when other bargaining units are striking. The article includes a limited carve out preventing e.g. a GA whose duties do not already include lecturing from being required by the University to cover lectures for a faculty member who is on strike.

We raised the topics of Academic Freedom and Past Practices once again, but have yet to get meaningful traction beyond admin’s agreement to discuss.

Bargaining Update: May 19th

Last week, we met with the Administration to continue bargaining non-economic articles. We mutually agreed to finish bargaining all the non-economic articles until they are complete, then holding off on economic topics until September.

The topics discussed during the day were evaluations, past practices, work environment, nondiscrimination, no strike lockout, and layoff. We were able to reach agreement on language for work environment, which will allow GAs access to appropriate work space and private space for meeting with students/coworkers.

The major sticking point with regard to nondiscrimination is whether or not a GA should have to ability to grieve discriminatory issues. We are getting close on some of the other topics and hope to be able to TA them within the next week or two.

We have heard from many of you about positions being eliminated or reduced. To learn the full extent of cuts, we have formally requested information, under the Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act, about the cutting of GA lines and the possible replacement of those positions with hourly workers. We need this information to advocate for GAs whose positions are being cut or whose tuition remission is being taken away. The Administration Team indicated that they do not have this information, and that this information does not exist.

As a union, we are coming together to make sure these situations do not slip through the cracks because we have the opportunity to advocate for our jobs. Are cuts happening in your department? Please reach out.

Finally, we once again proposed the Academic Freedom language from both faculty union contracts and the existing university policy for faculty.  Admin indicated that they would be willing to discuss the issue, but may still decline to agree to include language to address it in the contract.  Have you felt the need to express a controversial view on relevant subject matter in the classroom, and/or been retaliated against for doing so?

Bargaining Update, May 12th

Shout out and special thanks to all the folks who attending the bargaining session last Friday, including our allies from PSUFA and AAUP! We love seeing our members and our PSU community allies. We have another session on Friday, May 19th from 9am – 4pm.

After months of work and twenty (20) counter proposals, we finished appointments! This is a huge milestone! Along with appointments, we tentatively agreed on workload, summer session, and defined graduate assistants. Here are a few gains received:


  • Notice of Appointment:
    • All GAs will receive a notice of appointment via email. Folks on an academic year appointment will receive their appointment notice four (4) weeks in advance of the term and most GAs who are on term appointments will receive theirs at least two (2) weeks in advance. This is a HUGE win!
    • These will include title, length of appointment, salary per month, FTE (Full-Time Equivalency), estimated working hours per month, tuition remission per term, any student fees paid by the employing unit, and any benefits. These letters will also include estimates of student fees and health insurance premiums GAs will be required to pay.


  • Work Assignment Notice:


    • All GAs will also be provided a Work Assignment Notice, which describes work duties, expected preparation, and any required trainings or orientations.
    • If the information is not ready at the time of their appointment notice, most GAs will receive this at least two (2) weeks before the start of the term.
    • A GTA will be listed as the instructor of record if they have a direct role and primary responsibility for delivery of instruction and responsibility or shared responsibility for assessing students for a final grade. GAs who are instructor of record will receive these at least four (4) weeks prior to the term.
  • GPA requirements will be set by each employee’s academic program, not their employer.
  • For work assignments that can reasonably be expected to continue, GAs should be appointed for an academic year or twelve (12) months!  Currently, many GAs are appointed term-by-term for several consecutive terms.
  • If a GA is not renewed, then they may contact their hiring supervisor to discuss whether other employment opportunity exists, who is required to respond within five (5) working days.
  • The University also agreed to monitor appointments and use of single term appointments.

Work Load:

  • GAs will not be required to work more hours than specified in their notice of appointment.
  • If a GA is working over their paid hours, the GA may request a meeting with their assigned faculty member or supervisor. This will lead to one or more of three options:
    • Identifying ways for the GA to accomplish the work within the assigned FTE, and/or
    • Make changes to the required work duties without lowering assigned FTE or hourly pay rate, and/or
    • Change the assigned FTE without reducing the hourly pay rate.

Summer Session:

  • GAs may be appointed for summer term for up to 1.0 FTE.

Stay tuned to read the full tentative agreement for appointment, workload, summer session and to find definitions. During this session, we also agreed on language for health and safety, as well as discipline and discharge.