UO GTFS vote by 98% to authorize strike!

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(Reprinted from Local 3544 (GTFF)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Teri Del Rosso, PR Coordinator: 315.552.8359
Richard Wagner: member.communications@gtff.net

Eugene--The 1,500-member Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) authorized our leadership to call for a strike in response to unsatisfactory contract offers from the University of Oregon Administration. Following the Administration's refusal to continue to negotiate financial packages last week, our membership called for a strike authorization vote Friday night and, over the last four days, 98% voted in favor of authorization.

Because the Administration’s proposed contract diminishes the quality of compensation for GTFs, we are left with no choice but to strike and demand a fair contract now. The GTFF has made it clear to the Administration that our top priority during negotiations is to achieve a
contract that moves toward closing the substantial gap between wages and cost of living, which for many GTFs is hundreds of dollars per month. The offer made by the Administration keeps up with recent average rates of inflation but does little to address this gap, which the GTFF is determined to close within the next five years. The University’s surplus consistently increases by millions of dollars every year. Such surpluses contradict justifications by the Administration for stagnant wages and do little to make the program more competitive and attract the highest caliber candidates.

In addition to stagnant wages, the University Administration is pushing for modifications to the funding of GTFF health insurance, which will drastically increase individual GTF costs for health insurance. The Administration's proposed cap on health insurance premiums ignores the realities of the healthcare marketplace, forcing individual GTFs to double or triple our healthcare costs or face slashed benefits in order to keep those costs down. The Administration is also looking to remove a fixed cap on graduate student fees, allowing an increase to its revenue and risking GTF financial security moving forward. These proposed changes do not constitute a contract, which facilitates movement to a better financial position in the future.

As GTFs, we are proud of the work we do. We thrive on the rewards and challenges that come with teaching and research. We care about the University of Oregon and want to see it and the community succeed. But the proposals offered by the Administration are ones that GTFs just cannot afford. On Friday, May 23rd, GTFs from all across campus will show UO administration how much we value the work we do for the University at the GTFF Johnson Hall work-in between 10am and 1pm. At 1pm, we will rally outside Johnson Hall, showing the Administration how passionate, dedicated, and unified our members are to our university, students, and union. However, we are just as passionate, dedicated, and unified in our fight for a fair contract for all present and future GTFs.

The administration has requested to meet for a bargaining session at 4pm tomorrow (Fri) in the Walnut Room of the EMU to negotiate a work assignment article, but they still refuse to bargain over wages, healthcare, fees, or paid leave. The bargaining session is open to the press and the public.

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