Oregon State University (OSU) and the Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE) are engaged in negotiating an update to their existing labor contract, which expires June 30, 2020. In these negotiations, OSU and CGE bargaining teams will discuss potential updates to existing language contained within the current collective bargaining agreement. These efforts will lead to a successor labor agreement between OSU and CGE.
This webpage provides information regarding updates from bargaining sessions held by the University and CGE, as well as information about the University's bargaining principles and its bargaining team.
CGE has presented the University with economic proposals related to salaries, benefits and other requirements. The University estimates that the requests would increase OSU’s expenditures by $45.0 to $54.4 million beginning next year and that most of the requests result in continuing increased annual expenditures. For context, the University anticipates a total increase of $20 million in education and general funding this coming year for the Corvallis campus.
In bargaining, the University must balance the cost of attendance for all OSU students, as well as manage competing financial pressures, such as challenges in state and federal support for higher education, and invest in priorities that advance the University’s mission and financial viability. Meanwhile, OSU colleges, divisions and units are managing significant expense reductions that occurred in FY18, FY19, and this fiscal year, and that will be necessary again next year.
Among other things, CGE is seeking:
- Graduate assistant appointments to be extended to 12 months regardless of research or teaching work requirements. For example, 78% of current appointments are 9 months. This proposal would result in an estimated additional annual expense of $8.3 to $11 million.
- An increase of 18.6% in "minimum monthly" graduate assistant salaries from $3,922 to $4,650. This would result in an estimated additional annual expense of $2.2 million. “Minimum monthly” salary on a 1.0 full time equivalent (FTE) basis is the agreed benchmark used in the collective bargaining agreement and in negotiations at the table to set assistantship salaries. However, graduate assistants are appointed on a part-time basis, from 0.3 FTE to 0.49 FTE. Thus, the monthly earnings of an assistant at the contract minimum salary level currently ranges from $1,177 (0.3 FTE) to $1,922 (0.49 FTE) depending on an employee’s FTE status and part-time work responsibility. The actual average monthly salary for all assistants at OSU is $2,028, with a range across colleges of $1,599 to $2,375.
- Annual guaranteed pay increases going forward of 6% compared with current contracted annual increases of 2%. This would result in an estimated $1.7 million in annual expense.
- Creation of a $300 per month subsidy for each graduate assistant, who lives off campus. This would result in an estimated additional annual expense of $3.9 million.
- A one-time reimbursement of $400 for each graduate assistant for the purchase of a bicycle. This would result in an estimated $600,000 expense.
- The establishment of a bicycle repair fund in the amount of $500 per graduate student per year. This would result in an estimated additional annual expense of $900,000.
- Establishment of one gender neutral bathroom on each floor within all OSU buildings. It is estimated that 100 such restrooms, for example, would cost $2.5 million.
- For additional information about CGE’s economic proposals and their estimated expense, please click here.
Going forward, it is clear that CGE and the University must find common ground on these economic proposals. The University will pursue continued good faith bargaining to reach a fair and sustainable agreement.
Bargaining teams for the Coalition of Graduate Employees and the University are making steady progress. Teams exchanged four written counterproposals at the bargaining session, and multiple individuals offered testimony on behalf of CGE.
CGE offered counterproposals to the following articles – Evaluation (Article 15) and Grievance Procedure (Article 18). The University bargaining team presented written counterproposals on – Work Assignments (Article 10) and Appointments (Article 9). The university bargaining team also presented a detailed estimate of the financial cost of the CGE bargaining unit proposals offered to date by the union. The preliminary projected annual cost of the CGE proposals is estimated to be $45 to $54.4 million beginning next year. For more detail on the estimated costs, please see the university’s CGE bargaining web page.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Feb. 26
The CGE and University bargaining teams exchanged a total of seven written counterproposals at this bargaining session. CGE offered counterproposals to following articles – Recognition (Article 2), No Strike or Lockout (Article 6), University Rights (Article 7) and Discipline and Discharge (Article 17). The University bargaining team presented written counterproposals on – Evaluation (Article 15), Consultation and Labor Management Meetings (Article 19), and Grievances (Article 18). Both bargaining units are in alignment regarding the extent to which eSET scores are used as a method for evaluation and achieved the first tentative agreement of the negotiations on the Consultation and Labor Management Meetings article.
The CGE and University bargaining teams presented a total of eight written proposals during the session. The CGE bargaining team presented four articles – Sick Leave (Article 30), a new article on Family and Medical Leave (Article Z), Grievances (Article 18), and Labor Management Meetings (Article 19), while the University bargaining team brought written counterproposals on the four articles, as well – Recognition (Article 2), University Rights (Article 7), No Strike or Lockout (Article 6), and Discipline and Discharge (Article 17). Through the University’s written counterproposals, the bargaining team reaffirmed OSU’s commitment to: (1) notify CGE if the University creates a new University-wide classification for graduate employees; (2) maintain existing language agreed upon by the Parties in previous negotiations related to the Graduate Assistants’ employment role should another group of employees strike; (3) continue to preserve the appraisal of academic progress and protocols within the academic units; and (4) encourage bargaining members to work with the office of Equal Opportunity and Access on issues related to discrimination, harassment, bullying and retaliation.
The Union bargaining team opened by presenting revisions to Article 6. Strikes and Lockouts, articulating that the union does not enter the negotiations with the intention of striking, but does not support individuals who work despite an ongoing strike.
Next, the Union bargaining team presented a proposal on Article 29. Restrooms and Locker Rooms. The Union stated the desire for bathrooms to be safe, accessible, gender neutral, and not located in a busy building hallway, and to be stocked with hygiene and sexual health products. As suggested by the addition of locker rooms to the article title, the Union bargaining team articulated the Union’s interest in safe, gender-neutral locker rooms being located throughout university facilities, and specifically within the Dixon Rec Center on the Corvallis campus. The Union bargaining team said that the current space provided CGE members is shared with Dixon employees and is deemed inadequate with respect to privacy.
After testimony by Union members, the discussion turned to the Letters of Agreement (LOA), which are matters negotiated between the two Parties, either during a partial negotiation re-opener or agreed to on a specific matter outside of the typical negotiations period. The University bargaining team brought a number of LOAs and expressed its desire to deactivate the LOAs and, instead address these matters within the body of the contract. The Union bargaining team responded that it does not intend to strike the LOAs, even though the Parties had previously agreed that certain letters would cease to remain active after a specific date. The University bargaining team reinforced the intent to transition concepts contained within the LOAs, when applicable, into the body of the contract and that a future counterproposal from the University would reinforce this position.
Attention then turned to Article 3. Terms and Agreement. The University bargaining team expressed a desire for a five-year contract within this counterproposal. In addition, the University bargaining team also offered a counterproposal to Article 18. Grievance Procedures. Proposed revisions expressed in this counter reinforce the principles of resolving matters at the informal stage, whenever possible. This benefits all parties as the direct supervisor can work directly with a graduate assistant to find resolution, when possible, in an appropriate timeframe. If a resolution is not identified between the graduate assistant and their direct supervisor, then an escalatory system remains available through the appropriate structure.
A number of the Union bargaining team’s counterproposals seek to include matters that would dictate academic performance conditions. The University bargaining team reaffirmed that the collective bargaining agreement covers employment issues, and shared that the University does not have an interest in having the collective bargaining agreement govern academic matters.
The parties bargain again in the new academic term. Dates and times to be determined at a later date.
The parties met for a third bargaining session. The session began with the CGE bargaining team presenting proposals on the following articles:
- Article 3 – Terms of Agreement
- Article 7 – University Rights
- Article 17 – Discipline and Discharge
As the university team did not have immediate questions, the CGE offered members the opportunity to present testimony and each team convened a caucus. Subsequent to the caucus, the CGE team presented proposals on the following articles:
- Article 18 – Grievance Procedures
- Article 24 – Nondiscrimination
The University bargaining team posed clarifying questions to the CGE team about these two proposals and indicated that it would need additional time to consider CGE’s proposals.
The University team presented proposals on the following two articles:
- Article 27 - Statutory Compliance
- Article 30 - Sick Leave
The CGE and University bargaining teams clarified the articles and Letters of Agreements to be discussed at the December 6, 2019 bargaining session. The session concluded with final testimony from CGE members.
The CGE and the University bargaining team met for a second session. The CGE bargaining team provided a second grouping of initial proposals for the university’s consideration:
- Article 2 – Recognition
- Article 9 – Appointments
- Article 8 – Union Rights
- Article 10 – Work Assignment
- Article 13 – Summer Session
- Article 15 – Evaluation
Article 22 – Parking/Transportation">
The University bargaining team indicated it would need more time to fully consider the proposals.
In addition, the University bargaining team presented a proposal to the CGE bargaining team that offered to integrate the concepts agreed to within the Labor Management Meeting Letter of Agreement with the existing Consultation article. The proposal confirms the University’s agreement to meet on a monthly basis and the ability to include five representatives to these meetings.">
The University and CGE bargaining teams met for their first bargaining session and agreed upon a set of ground rules for the negotiations. Subsequent to the agreement on ground rules, the CGE bargaining team presented their initial proposals on the following articles:
- Article 11 – Salary
- Article 12 – Tuition Waiver
- Article 28 - Insurance
- Article X – Mandatory and Paid Training
- Article Y – Housing
- Article Z - Family Leave and Policies
The University bargaining team posed a few questions related to the articles and indicated that they would need more time to consider the proposals presented by CGE.
- Consultation and Labor Management Meetings, Article 19 - January 22, 2020
University Labor & Bargaining Team
University Bargaining Team
Heather Horn is the Associate Vice Provost and Senior Director, Employee and Labor Relations and serves as OSU's lead negotiator. Before joining Oregon on Feb. 28, 2019, she worked in labor and employee relations at the University of Illinois at both the Urbana-Champaign and Chicago campuses.
Steph Bernell is an associate dean of the Graduate School. She has taught over 80 courses at Oregon State, primarily in the areas of health policy and health economics.
Sherm Bloomer is the director of the Office of Budget and Fiscal Planning and a professor of geology and geophysics. He oversees the development of OSU’s Education and General Fund budget, fiscal planning and tuition rate projections. Previously, he served as dean of the College of Science and taught undergraduate and graduate students for 22 years.
Eric Kirby is a professor of earthquake geology and active tectonics, and the associate dean for academic programs in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. He joined OSU in 2013 after having taught for nearly 11 years as a faculty member at Penn State University.
Linda Nye is a university human resource officer. She has 14 years of service in education and 9 years of service at the university.
Cory Vieira is a senior employee and labor relations officer at OSU. Since 2016, he has served the university within the Human Resources Service Center, and worked in employee and labor relations.