Bargaining Update April 28th, 2017

Our bargaining team met once again on Friday, April 28th with the PSU Administration Team. Shout out to the members who joined us last Friday! It’s good to keep the Administration Team accountable for their positions.

Generally, bargaining an existing contract takes about a year. We started in October 2016. As this is a brand new contact, our situation is a bit unique. Writing a first contact takes several iterations of each article. We are attempting to move quickly and efficiently through all the non-economic articles first, then transition into all the economic articles. Non-economic articles are just as important, if not more so, than the economic ones. These develop the processes and procedures for our working conditions.

We presented a summary of the work that remains, similar to the summary in our last blog post, and shared our judgment that it will be a challenge to finish everything (including economic articles, e.g. Health Insurance, Salary) during this term, and proposed that we plan to continue negotiations next Fall. So far, the Administration Team hasn’t agreed to this. We’re concerned that if we rush the economic articles, we may not get a good deal on things that really matter to GAs, and hope that the Administration Team will recognize that we deserve at least as much time to finish our new contract as our ally unions on campus get to bargain existing contracts.

At this point, the Administration Team has indicated they will not be presenting any more initial proposals on non-economic issues. Therefore, our team is responsible for the rest of the initial proposals for such topics. During this session we presented initial proposals for Union Rights and Health, Safety, & Work environment. Next session, on May 12th, we will have a few more in hand.

Our team presented counter proposals for Appointments, Discipline and Discharge, and Evaluations. The Administration team presented counters on Layoff and Personnel Records.

After a in-session counter on Personnel Records, we came to agreement on the language and we signed off on it as a tentative agreement. As a reminder, a tentative agreement is when both teams agree on the language for any given article and then we set it aside until all the articles are completed. Then we bind them up and sign off on the contract in whole.

See you all Friday, May 12th!

Bargaining Update April 25th

To all our members who came to the last bargaining session, thank you! Members showing up provided a breath of fresh air and perspective that was invaluable to our work.

In our latest bargaining prep session we took time to do some big picture scoping to look at what we’ve accomplished so far and what remains to be done. The administration team has expressed interest in completing a contract by the end of the academic year, so we put together a list of all the topic sections that would need to be completed for a contract we feel would be acceptable to our members.

We need to reach agreement on the following sections:

  • Academic Freedomon the table, Administration currently refuse to bargain about this
  • Appointments on the table
  • Childcare
  • Complete Agreement on the table, Administration currently unwilling to allow the contract to be reopened by request while in effect (CGE has several reopeners)
  • Definitions ongoing document
  • Discipline and Discharge on the table
  • Evaluationon the table,  Administration currently unwilling to allow a GA the right to an evaluation if they want one
  • Fees
  • Grievance and Arbitrationon the table
  • Health & SafetyGEU proposing on Friday
  • Healthcare
  • Intellectual Property
  • Jury Dutyon the table
  • Layoff on the table, Administration currently unwilling to provide notice to GEU a month before layoffs
  • Leave (sick, vacation, holiday)
  • No Strike/Lockouts on hold, Admin currently unwilling to commit to not requiring e.g. a GTA who usually grades and holds office hours to pick up a striking faculty instructor’s duties
  • Non-Discriminationon hold, Administration currently unwilling to allow violations of this article to be grievable
  • Past Practices
  • Personnel Fileson the table
  • Professional Development
  • Salary
  • Summer Termon the table and almost complete
  • Term of Agreementon hold
  • Transportation/ Parking
  • Travel
  • Tuition Remission
  • Union Rights GEU proposing on Friday
  • Workloadon the table and almost complete

We have already reached tentative agreement on these sections:

  • Communication
  • Defining Parties
  • Distribution and Printing
  • Labor Management
  • Recognition
  • Separability Clause

Our next meeting is April 28th from 9am to 4pm in Market Center 651. We’ll begin by discussing what this will mean for our bargaining sessions moving forward. We’ll then be returning to Appointments and Workload, then looking at Discipline and Discharge, Evaluations, Union Rights, Layoff, and Personnel records. We’ll also be setting aside time to discuss progress on the economic subgroup we’ve formed.

Want to get involved in bargaining? Contact us at

Bargaining Update: April 19th

Shout out to all who were able to attend the bargaining session on Friday, April 14th! Always makes a big difference having people in the room. We will be bargaining again this Friday, 04/21/2017, in Market Center Building room 541 from 9am – 4pm!  Come to our pre-bargaining meeting at Park Ave Cafe at 8am!

We came prepared with stacks on stacks of proposals:

  • Appointments
  • Personnel Records
  • Complete Agreement
  • Layoff
  • Academic Freedom
  • University rights

And The University provided

  • Evaluations
  • Grievance and Arbitration

During the session we were able to provide a counter to admin’s Evaluations article, while admin provided a counter to our Appointments. We are getting close on Evaluations! The only substantive change we suggested in our counter was to require notice before any classroom observation that was to be used for evaluative purposes. Hopefully this coming week we will be able to reach a tentative agreement (TA).

There are still some hangups on Appointments, specifically regarding notice of non-reappointment and not giving GA work to non-GAs. We are working on yet more creative solutions to these problems which we hope the University will agree with.

This coming Friday we are expecting to receive admin’s counters on University Rights, Layoff, Evaluations, Personnel Records, Complete Agreement, Academic Freedom, and Term of Agreement.

There has been an ongoing oscillation between “will” and “shall”. We have suggested the use of “shalt” but that didn’t fly too well.

Come observe this Friday in Market Center Building room 541 from 9am – 4pm. We can not express how powerful having you all there has been and how rejuvenating it is for us on the bargaining team.

Bargaining Update: April 7th

Welcome to Spring Term, GEU! We hope you all had the opportunity to travel to fun, sunny, and warm places.

On Friday, our bargaining team had our first bargaining session after spring break. Each team came to the session with multiple new articles and counter proposals from past sessions. Our team introduced proposals on evaluation, discipline & discharge, and a proposal on grievances & arbitration. Administration presented university rights, layoff, and personnel files.

We also presented another counterproposal on appointments. While this is one of the most complex articles we have, each proposal we are getting closer to finishing this article. However, the tension in the room keeps increasing. The Administration Team repeatedly pushed back on several items:

  • An employee deserves to be notified when they do not get selected for a position or they are not renewed.
  • That employing units will not replace GA positions with hourly positions, except in emergency situations.

Good news though: it seems we have reached shared language and are in agreement on most of the workload and summer session articles. We plan on signing these articles once we have reached shared language on appointments.

This process is slow going, but we are working hard to complete this collective bargaining agreement as soon as possible. How can you help? Come observe bargaining on Friday in the Market Center Building room 651, anytime from 9am – 4pm.

Bargaining Update: March 17th

Once again, a huge shout out to our members who came to the session to observe. As per usual, your presence helped us tremendously!

Kevin Reynolds (PSU Vice President of Finance & Administration) joined at the beginning of the session to give a general overview of the Portland State budget process.


We finally settled on definitions of Graduate Assistants, and the three types: Graduate Administrative Assistants, Graduate Research Assistants, and Graduate Teaching Assistants.


We are continuing to work through one of the longest and most complex articles in our contract, Appointments. Appointments will include GAship eligibility, notice of appointments, and the role of assistantships. Each team has, again, exchanged language a few times, and we are closer to finding common language that protects the interests of GAs and gives clarity to what a GA position entails.  

In particular, Admin’s most recent proposal includes language in our Notice of Appointment that lists estimated health insurance and fees. Having this information all in one place will help us more accurately estimate our take home pay after these costs when deciding whether or not to accept a GA position.  We’re excited to make progress towards a more transparent employment process for GAs, and look forward to making more.


Our team presented more language on workload today and allowed questions from the Administration Team. In general, both teams agree that GA’s should not be overworked. We are still negotiating what the enforcement mechanism will be.

Coming Up

We’ve spent the past term working on articles related to non-economic issues.  Recognizing that issues such as health care and wage increases to keep up with cost of living will take up a lot of time at the table, we’re advocating for a transition to bargaining over articles related to financial issues next month.  We’ll let all y’all know as we begin these discussions, so everyone has a chance to speak out, participate, and advocate for our future financial security and healthcare.

Come see our next bargaining session: April 7th, 2017 between 9am and 4pm, location TBD. We will be discussing evaluations, discipline and discharge, and building a grievance process.

Want to get involved in bargaining? Contact us at