GTFF holds a sit-in at Johnson Hall on May 31, 2019

Demonstrators and members of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation sit outside Johnson Hall on Thursday, May 31, 2019 to protest budget cuts, cuts to health care and tuition increases. GTFF members held sit-ins for three days prior to negotiations with the university. (Emily Matlock/Emerald)

Members of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, in addition to other UO community members who came to show support, sat in front of Johnson Hall on Thursday afternoon to protest budget cuts, tuition increases and reductions of health care benefits packages.

Thursday’s demonstration was part of a four-day sit-in this week. Friday, GTFF will again sit-in in front of Johnson Hall during the group’s fourth mediated negotiation session to discuss the proposed budgetary cuts. The first mediation session was April 26.

The sit-in tomorrow will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with members from Service Employees International Union joining for a “Solidarity Against Austerity” rally at noon.

Graduate Employee Rajeev Ravisankar, GTFF’s vice president of external relations, said that he’s looking forward to the mediated session with university administration. He said at this point, the “ball is in their court.”

Ravisankar said GTFF is committed to continuing good faith negotiations until the university proposes a plan that both parties can get behind. The organization’s biggest concern is that the university doesn’t cut their healthcare benefits, which have been the topic of discussion since the mediated sessions first began in April.   

The Emerald reported that GTFF proposed a plan that would raise GE wages while maintaining their current health care plan. The university proposed a wage increase as well, but would add fees to their health care.  

“We plan to continue negotiating through the summer and fall if we have to,” said Ravisankar. He questioned whether or not UO administrations truly values the role GEs have in how the university functions.

If neither side can come to an agreement and declares an impasse, members of the union may go on strike.

Ravisankar said that while UO has made “hardly any movement” in the discussions, he said he hopes they can “slowly work toward an agreement.”

Emily is a senior news reporter for the Emerald. She covers student organizations on campus and is interested in covering small community news through solutions journalism. She is a journalism and Spanish double major.