Members of the Graduate Teaching Fellow Federation, which represents the graduate educators at the University of Oregon, and their supporters chanted pro-union slogans and distributed pamphlets with information about their role on campus and their ongoing contract negotiations Thursday.
Two demonstrations were held at the EMU and at 13th and Kincaid Street to raise awareness among the UO community of the union’s potential impending strike. Around 12:30 p.m., the two groups marched to Memorial quad, and merged into one group numbering upwards of 75 people.
At the demonstration, union members and their supporters marched in circles displaying signs with pro-union slogans and proclamations of solidarity. On the periphery of the protest, union members distributed pamphlets with information on why union members are ready to withhold their labor and how the community could show support in the case of a strike.
Mike Magee, GTFF bargaining team chair, said the demonstration was a preview to the administration of what is to come if union members walk out of work. “[The demonstration] is just a tiny, tiny taste of what’s possible.”
In November 2018, the GTFF and UO began negotiating a new contract. Since the beginning of those negotiations, the GTFF has stated it will not accept a contract that includes restructures their health insurance.
Over the 11 months since negotiations began, the two parties have resolved most issues, but when UO’s final offer last month contained changes to health insurance, the GTFF announced an impasse. Last week, the GTFF voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing a strike. If UO admin and the GTFF don’t reach an agreement by Nov. 4, GEs will walk out.