GEU Bargaining Priorities

Wages: The PSU minimum stipend for graduate assistants is hundreds of dollars less than minimum stipend rates at UO and OSU while Portland has the highest cost of living in the state. Many of us are forced to take on additional jobs in order to make ends meet, making it difficult to provide the best quality research and instruction to our undergraduate students. This year in contract negotiations we will focus on raising the minimum stipend, lowering mandatory student fees, and securing cost of living adjustments (COLAs).

Healthcare: Currently, the PSU health insurance plan is $827 per term which is higher than many of our monthly stipends. In addition to the egregious expense, our current plan doesn’t offer dependent health care coverage, vision, or dental coverage. As employees of PSU, we deserve affordable employer provided health insurance.

Workload: Many of us are given too much work, and, as a result, we often end up working more hours than we’re paid for. As class sizes grow without adequate adjustments in resources, graduate employees are less able to provide quality education and support for their students. We’re fighting to establish a strong mechanism that ensures we all have manageable workloads.

Job Security: PSU does not always provide stable employment for graduate employees. Many GA’s cannot rely on employment beyond a quarterly position. GA’s may not find out if they have a position until a few days before the quarter starts. All GA’s deserve to have employment they can count on.

A strong legacy of grad unionism

We’re part of a movement of grads at over 30 other universities across the country that have fought for and won significant gains for graduate employees. Here in Oregon, grad employee unions at OSU and UO have negotiated everything from subsidized health insurance (including dependents!) and increases in minimum stipends to overwork protections and student fee reductions.

GEU is a member-led union

Our union focuses on the issues that are most important to our members. Our union is made up of nearly 800 graduate teaching assistants, research assistants, and administrative assistants at PSU who drive the mission, priorities, and actions of our organization. All GEU members are encouraged to play an active role in our union.

GEU’s relationship with faculty advisors, supervisors and PIs

Unionized grads report that clear standards for wages and workload expectations lessen the anxiety and tension between themselves and their departments. GEU is affiliated with two strong national education unions, the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, which have a long-standing presence on our campus. Full-time (AAUP) and adjunct (AFT) faculty at PSU are unionized and have been very supportive of GEU; thus, most of them understand that higher wages, better benefits, and clearer expectations provided by a contract encourages student recruitment and retention — and that’s good for the whole university!

GEU and International Students

International students across the country participate in and are members of graduate employee unions. Participation or membership in a union cannot be considered a factor in making visa decisions. International student employees have the exact same rights to join and support a union as US citizens.

All about union dues

Nobody will pay dues until after we have ratified our contract. Between now and then, we’ll need to vote to set our dues rate. Typically, graduate unions like ours set their dues rate at around 2% of stipend.

Membership cards

If you signed a card last academic year (2015-2016), you signed an Authorization Card which was what allowed us to be legally recognized as a union. Now that our union is certified, in order to become an official member of GEU, GAs have to sign a membership card. Membership is how we show our strength to administration and also how we get stuff done as an organization by voting on our contract and in leadership elections.

How can I get involved?

There are a lot of ways to get involved! GEU is a member-led union and we’re looking for people with various interests and talents. The first step is to sign a union membership card. If you’re excited about research, communications, talking with your co-workers about GEU, building ties with the broader community, or have another idea about how you’d like to be involved please reach out to us!