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CGE and OSU management have mutually signed a tentative agreement (TA) in bargaining. For workers within CGE’s bargaining unit (all graduate students with a GTA or GRA), this means that the changes agreed upon in our collective bargaining agreement (or contract) will begin to be implemented in preparation for fall term, 2018. Members of our union will have the final say on whether the negotiated changes are satisfactory. They will be able to voice their authority through a vote beginning at our union’s fall General Membership Meeting (GMM, date TBD). Below is a summary of the potential changes, followed by a statement from our bargaining team as to why they felt it appropriate to sign a TA.
Summary of changes:
- Salary Increase: CGE and OSU agreed to increasing the minimum full-time monthly salary rate from $3661 to $3922 effective September 16, 2018. This translates to a monthly minimum increase for those at .30FTE from its current rate of $1131.30 to $1176.55; .40FTE current rate of $1508.40 to $1568.74; and .49FTE current rate of $1847.79 to $1921.70. These increases give raises to the lowest earners. For those returning Graduate Employees making more than the minimum you will still receive a 2% salary increase in September, 2018.
- Hourly Work: CGE and OSU agreed to enabling more flexibility in hourly positions. Hourly positions will be appropriate when the work is of limited duration or the work is unrelated to instructional or research duties normally performed by a GTA or GRA. Hourly positions are also appropriate when they are used to supplement an existing GTA or GRA appointment. Finally, hourly positions are acceptable during summer term. We agreed to language which states that hourly work shall not be used to undermine GTA or GRA appointments, and that a PI or employing unit are not to use hourly work as a substitute for graduate-level work which should be on an appointment.
- Audit: CGE and OSU agreed to formalize language on providing our union with an annual audit of jobs given to graduate students at OSU.
- SEVIS/VISA reimbursements: CGE and OSU agreed to increasing the amount available for a SEVIS/VISA reimbursement from $360 to $500. This benefit will also be available for a graduate employee’s partner and/or dependent(s). The cumulative available amount for reimbursement will be $500.
- Summer Session: CGE and OSU agreed to language which clarifies that during the summer a GTA or GRA can be on an appointment when enrolled in a minimum of 3 credits, but in order to avoid FICA taxes a Graduate Employee needs to be enrolled in a minimum of 5 credits. This stipulation does not have an impact on International Graduate Employees.
- Non-discrimination: CGE and OSU agreed to add language in the existing contract to collaboratively promote and provide equal access to all graduate employee benefits.
- DACA: CGE and OSU signed a letter of agreement (LOA) which states the university will allow graduate employees with DACA status to use leave requests for handling legal matters, to respecting the privacy concerns of graduate employees with DACA status, and to publishing on both CGE and OSU’s respective websites resources for students, graduate employees, faculty, and staff on DACA provisions, laws, and services. Specifically, CGE and OSU will jointly publish the “Immigrant and Refugee Children: a guide for educators and support staff” information packet produced by a coalition of labor unions and immigrant rights organizations.
- Health Insurance: CGE and OSU agreed to language which clarifies the process for a graduate employee to opt-out of our union’s negotiated health insurance coverage. A graduate employee must have equivalent or better insurance, where equivalent or better is defined as health insurance that includes medical, pharmacy, vision, and dental coverage and meets or exceeds the exact level of coverage that is offered on the Pacific Source plan. CGE and OSU also agreed to increasing the number of meetings for the Health Insurance Advisory Council (HIAC) from one meeting a year to one meeting a term. The contract formerly stipulated that the HIAC would meet once a year (although there was no meeting this year) to allow CGE to review plan/claims data (which is what determines premium increases) and discuss plan operation and improvements.
These negotiations happened from the beginning of Winter to Spring term, 2018. This round was considered a “re-opener,” meaning we only negotiated over a portion of all the articles within our CBA and not the entirety of the contract. The entire contract will be subject to renegotiation in 2020. Our bargaining team feels that we did not get everything we would have liked out of this round of negotiations, but that the gains which were made will have an immediately positive impact on graduate employees at OSU.
Notably, our bargaining team is disappointed that we were not able to come to any agreement on child care benefits for our working parents, an expansion of gender-neutral restrooms, a fund for graduate employees facing financial hardships, and specific guarantees ensuring access to healthcare for graduate employees who are transgender. Our bargaining team does believe, however, that we were able to begin building momentum toward these bigger goals. Our hope is that we can launch an engaged and large-scale campaign which keeps these proposals firmly in the mind of our employers at OSU so that in our next bargaining cycle we will have the momentum and the numbers necessary to win these benefits.
Even though our bargaining team was not able to accomplish all its goals in this round of bargaining, our union will not suddenly stop advocating on these important matters or slowdown on building the momentum needed to secure gains for all graduate workers at OSU. Ultimately the choice is for members to decide whether to ratify the changes made in this round of negotiations, and that is a decision no member should take lightly.
If you have further questions or comments, feel free to email our Executive Council at email@example.com
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