April 22, 2019
Dear faculty members,
As you know, the University of Oregon has been in bargaining with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) since last fall. Over the last several months, the GTFF bargaining team and the university bargaining team have presented proposals and reviewed counter proposals in hopes of reaching a new agreement. The reality is we remain far apart on key issues. For this reason, the GTFF and the university bargaining teams have formally requested mediation from the State of Oregon Employment Relations Board. Mediation is the next step in the process and is a valuable tool during these negotiations. It begins on April 26.
We remain committed to keeping you informed about our position and the values that are guiding us as we seek to reach agreement with the GTFF. To help in this effort, we have created this side-by-side summary that compares economic and non-economic proposals from both the GTFF and the university.
Two of the key factors under consideration are salary and benefits for graduate employees. We are committed to providing graduate employees with a fair and equitable employment contract that is competitive with peers in the Association of American Universities (AAU). The UO currently offers lower stipends than other AAU institutions. We want to change that. To do so, we have to look at the benefits package because the current health insurance we have for GEs is about twice as generous as those offered by peer AAU institutions, and we also waive more fees than other institutions.
The current proposal from the university increases the average annual salary of a graduate employee working three terms by $2,265, which would put the UO above the AAU average. For future recruitment of graduate employees, we could offer a minimum salary that would be 14.7% higher than it is today. The increase in the total compensation package, including insurance, tuition waivers, and fees, will be 1% for all GE levels each year.
Realigning a portion of our contributions to benefits to increase salaries gives current GEs more take-home pay. It also allows us to offer a clearer, more competitive funding package to future graduate students. Our contributions to health insurance would still be nearly 50 percent higher in value than the support offered by AAU peers. It is important to note that the graduate employee trust has the autonomy to choose the health insurance package that makes the most sense for its members. This means, for example, that the trust could choose to maintain current benefit levels. If it made that choice, members could pay for the difference in premiums with the increased salary provided by the institution. In addition, our mandatory fee coverage would be consistent with what is offered by other public AAU institutions.
The university greatly values GEs and the critical work they do supporting academic and research pursuits. It is also our goal to maintain and grow successful, competitive graduate programs, now and in the future. The university’s proposal offers a compensation package to graduate employees that helps make the UO a top choice among the very best students, supports our mission, and ensures graduate students receive outstanding professional experiences to become the next generation of excellent scholars, researchers, and teachers.
We want to achieve an agreement that best meets the needs of our graduate employees while supporting the university’s mission of teaching and research, and it is our responsibility to remain good stewards of student tuition and taxpayer dollars.
We will continue to provide accurate and up-to-date information about the process. For more information, faculty members can visit the GTFF bargaining website and the Human Resources website, which includes periodic updates on the bargaining process.
If you have any questions, please contact Missy Matella, the senior director of employee and labor relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for all you do to support our students, our graduate employees, and our campus.
Provost and Senior Vice President