The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, the union that represents the University of Oregon’s 1,400 graduate employees, held a sit-in Tuesday at the EMU’s ground floor. The demonstration was the most recent step in nearly 12 months of the union’s contract negotiations with UO.
According to Mike Magee, the union’s lead negotiator, the negotiation teams have recently gotten closer to an agreement, but if they don’t reach an agreement by Monday, the GTFF will go on strike.
The sit-in took place feet from EMU 011, where the contract negotiations were taking place. Demonstrating GEs and their supporters occupied space with pro-union signs, pamphlets and clothing. According to Rhiannon Lindgren, a GTFF member, their purpose was to show support for the union bargaining team and pressure UO into accepting the union’s contract offer.
Magee said that one major point of contention that has prevented the UO and GTFF from coming to an agreement, healthcare, has been settled and that the union’s remaining goals are to secure 3% raises for the lowest paid GEs and reimbursement for international students’ visa fees.
“Formally speaking, strike authorization is still in effect,” Magee said, “but I suspect [a strike is] not going to happen at this point because we’re very close to a deal.”
There are no more negotiations scheduled before the GTFF can strike, but if UO and GTFF leadership don’t agree on a contract by the end of Tuesday, the negotiation teams will meet over the weekend.