UO Administration and GTFF reach contract agreements, this time without strikes
The University of Oregon Administration and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation met on June 30 to negotiate the latest contract agreements for GTFs and the university. Unlike the negotiations two years ago, this year’s did not result in most of the graduate fellows going on strike.
There were a few notable elements to this year’s contracts. First, it marks the first time that the GTFF has agreed to a three-year contract as opposed to the traditional two-year span. Across those three years, GTFs will see minimum pay increases of 3.5 percent for the first two and 3.7 percent in the last year.
All GTFs will also benefit from a 65 percent reduction in summer course fees, regardless of whether they are also taking on a summer teaching role.
“My role on the bargaining committee [for the administration] was to ensure that the university keeps in mind that we need to look at ways to accommodate GTFs not only as employees but also as students,” said Dean of the Graduate School Scott Pratt.
Both sides also agreed on mandatory trainings for GTFs, which will educate them on things specific to teaching, but also on cultural competency.
“We’re really excited about the trainings because it’s something that we pushed for really hard in order to make our campus safer for graduates and undergraduates,” said former President of the GTFF Shawna Meechan, who was present for both of the previous negotiations.
Speaking about what was different this time around, Meechan said that the overall atmosphere of the negotiation table was much more positive this year compared to the sessions two years ago.
“Last time the university hired out a lawyer to represent them in these discussions,” Meechan said. “He was very rude and it was clear from the outset that he had very little understanding of what it means to be a GTF. This year there was a much clearer sense that we were speaking with others who are invested in what happens on our campus and with getting a contract that was agreeable and enforceable.”
The UO administration also highlighted a clearer sense of mutual understanding with the talks this year.
“I wasn’t here for the last negotiations,” said Assistant Vice President of Labor Relations Bill Brady, “But from my perspective both sides worked very hard [and] did a nice job being responsive to finding solutions based on each other’s needs.”
Both sides are confident that this year’s contracts reflect a positive outcome for both GTFs and the administration and that this agreement will be ratified by the GTFF without incident.
“If I were writing the contract I may have pushed the numbers with our minimum wages a bit higher,” Meechan said. “We’re still struggling to get by here in Eugene. But overall I think this is a positive contract.”