GTFF Moves Toward Strike Vote

The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, AFT Local 3544 is holding an emergency meeting tonight in order to vote on authorizing a strike vote of its membership. Bargaining between the GTFF and the UO has been going on for several months, with no obvious resolution in sight.

The graduate employees are trying to finish bargaining before the ned of this term, as they have tremendous difficulty finishing bargaining in the summer when many of their members are out of town.

The Executive Council of United Academics recently called on the UO administration, through a letter to President Gottfredson, to take their bargaining responsibilities seriously and bring a rapid end to bargaining. The text of our letter:

Dear President Gottfredson,

We write to urge a quick and equitable conclusion to the bargaining process with the GTFF. You know well that the GTFF contract has expired: GTFs are now working without a contract. We find this lamentable.

GTFs are central to the teaching and research mission of the University of Oregon. It is they, as students seeking advanced degrees, who make this a research university; it is their work as teachers that enables us to teach the undergraduates enrolled here. Prioritizing an agreement on a contract with their union is a necessary if not sufficient condition for recognizing their essential role.

As faculty, we see every year how uncompetitive GTF salaries are, and how harmful it is that we can’t offer scholarships that would allow GTFs to study without teaching. If the UO is not prepared to make GTF salaries truly competitive, or to prioritize non-teaching scholarships, it should certainly recognize the wisdom and cost-effectiveness of enhancing the benefits the GTFF currently has. Improvements in this area could close the gap in terms of how graduate applicants perceive our offer and thus select their graduate program.

A final word on professional courtesy and respect. Many of us have attended one or more bargaining sessions, and have been dismayed with the dismissive and even disrespectful tone taken by members of the administration’s bargaining team. This attitude is inexplicable to us. The GTFs are our students as well as our fellow-teachers, fully invested members of the University of Oregon. They deserve respectful and responsive interaction, not condescension and stonewalling.

Thank you for your consideration of our concerns, which ultimately are of course concerns we share: the wellbeing of our students and fellow-teachers; the strength and reputation of our graduate programs; the healthy competitiveness of our graduate programs in recruiting the next generation of faculty.

More than 50 faculty activists have signed on to the letter. You can add your signature at our office or you can electronically sign a petition to support the GTFF and learn more at their website.

Two LERC Trainings

Health Care Bargaining Conference
June 12, 2014 – June 13, 2014
White Stag Building – Portland, OR

Health Insurance: It’s a New World Out There!
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is coming to Oregon. This path-breaking law contains many provisions that will profoundly affect how unions bargain health care for their members.
This conference is designed to help union leaders and staff meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the ACA. Topics will include reporting requirements under the new law, the role of health care exchanges, the implications of ACA for existing union health care plans, and how to develop effective union bargaining strategies in an “ACA world.”

Organizing for Justice in the Inequality Economy: A Community Scholars Class for Union, Community, and Student Activists
UO Campus – Eugene, OR
Instructors: Raahi Reddy, LERC,
and Professor Dan Martinez HoSang, UO Dept. of Poli/Sci

Wealth and income disparities have skyrocketed and are now at their highest level in more than 80 years. U.S. workers, like many around the globe, are toiling longer hours for lower wages—facing rising debt and deepening insecurity.

But in every corner of the country, workers, students and communities are fighting back—organizing to abolish the inequality economy and replace it with a humane and sustainable future that leaves no one behind.

This day-long workshop will help you to understand some of the deeper structural foundations of the inequality economy—how it developed, who has benefited and why so many of us are losing out. Our class will examine the way companies like Wal-Mart and other low-wage employers exploit inequities in race, gender and national origin to expand their power. We will unpack the ways these trends are impacting public sector workers and the social safety net.

More information and registration at the LERC webpage or call 541-346-5054.

Candidate Forum

Join the AFT-Oregon Political & Legislative Affairs Committee, and members from LCCEF 2417, UAUO 3209, & GTFF 3544 for upcoming candidate interviews – let’s have a conversation about how to advocate for a fair workplace and strong education where the shared goals of education professionals are protected in Salem.

Please RSVP to Julia Trist, AFT-Oregon Political Organizer, juliat(at)aft-oregon(dot)org and join us at 10am for a quick interview orientation.

Eugene Public Library, Singer Room (2nd Floor) at 10am-5pm

Candidate Forum

Academic Freedom at the UO

The Senate unanimously passed an Academic Freedom Policy last week. Now it needs to be signed by president Gottfredson within 60 days.

In order to make this happen, our brothers and sisters in SEIU are encouraging people to contact the president directly and encourage him to  sign it.

We [SEIU] are encouraging our campus community to write to President Gottfredson regarding how meaningful and important it is to sign this policy that was unanimously passed by our UO Senate, why this policy matters to you, and all others in to campus community.

Also, the presidents of three of the four unions at the UO, including our own Michael Dreiling, wrote an op-ed in the Register Guard encouraging President Gottfredson to sign the policy.

GTFF Day of Action

The GTFF is holding a day of action on campus on April 25. They are encouraging the entire campus community to participate in any or all of the events.

At noon, outside Johnson Hall, the GTFF will be holding a rally in support of the union’s current bargaining with the University Administration. Help show that we’re serious about a fair contract.

From 1pm until 3pm, in Allen Hall room 221, will be the Student Debt Forum sponsored by our allies in Less-T. On this day it is estimated that student debt will reach 1 trillion dollars. Learn about the implications of this major financial burden on our nation’s next generation of leaders. And, there will be food.

At 3pm until 6pm, in Lillis Hall room 112, will be another bargaining session between the University of Oregon Administration and the GTFF. Come support the bargaining team as they attempt to reach an agreement on a fair contract for all GTFs.

United Academics Supports GTFF in Bargaining

The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF), the union representing over 1,500 graduate employees at the UO, is currently bargaining its contract with the UO administration.

On February 4, the United Academics Executive Council unanimously passed the following resolution in support of the GTFF:

A strong contract for the GTFF supports the research and teaching missions of UO. GTFs are critical contributors to the research and educational programs throughout the university. United Academics recognize their vital role and stands with the GTFF in their negotiations. Defending and strengthening their contract are essential ways to help recruit, retain and support graduate students, who enliven and enable the educational and research mission across the UO.

The bargaining sessions between the GTFF and the UO are open to the public—please consider coming to an upcoming session to support the GTFF and learn more about the many issues facing graduate employees—upcoming bargaining dates will be listed here.

In addition, faculty and other GTFF supporters can sign a petition in support of the GTFF here.