Bargaining Updates

The GEO has heard from many members who want to know what has been happening at the contract negotiation sessions with the university administration. While the best way to be in the know is to come to the bargaining sessions, we will provide weekly updates here on the sessions and the progress, or lack thereof, towards reaching a new contract.

Bargaining sessions are on Mondays and Wednesdays in University Hall (UH) 650. Next session: Feb. 8, 12-5pm.

Update: Feb. 1 and 3, 2016

GEO held its 20th and 21st bargaining session with the University this week. On Monday, GEO presented a counter proposal to University which was met with a counter from the University. Both sides made movement towards the other. On Wednesday, GEO responded to the University’s most recent counter, the University responded, and the GEO countered (doesn’t it seem like I’m describing chess or a sporting event?). Once again, both sides made movement towards the other. At this point in time, the main outstanding differences between the two parties are wages and changes to Fair Share. As always, the University wants to pay us less than we deserve, but there have been significant advances in their position and we are close to an agreement here. However, the University has proposed changes to Fair Share that would force GEO to send signed member cards to the University. This would allow them to stop deducting fair share fees (which are used to keep the union running) from those who had not signed a card. This is something that we are still fighting against.

Our next bargaining session will be Monday February 8th, from 12-5 PM in UH 650. Note: the University will be caucusing until 1 PM and therefore will not be in the room until after 1 PM. GEO will be caucusing from 12-1 PM to discuss Fair Share and what is a proposal that we would be willing to accept. The University’s proposal on Monday will be brought to the GMM on Tuesday the 9th to get a sense of whether or not we might be ready to tentatively agree to a new contract. See you all next week!

Update: January 20 and 27, 2016

On Wednesday January 20th, 2016 the University and GEO restarted negotiations which had been on hold since before Thanksgiving due to the holidays and the University Team’s vacation schedule. However, the tone of negotiations was changed with the meeting on the 20th. Dean of the Graduate College, Karen Colley, is now attending bargaining negotiations as the Chancellor’s spokesperson.
Additionally, the University brought to the GEO a new comprehensive proposal that had made significant movement from the previous position and in the context of how bargaining has been proceeding this contract negotiation season. GEO did not accept this proposal, but created a counter proposal that was presented today, Wednesday the 27th, to the University. The University responded with a counter. GEO will pass another comprehensive proposal to the University on Monday, February 1st, in UH 650 from 1-4 PM. This process will likely repeat on Wednesday, February 3rd, from 12-5 PM.

TL;DR: There has been movement from both the University and the GEO in negotiations. We will be meeting with the University again on Monday the 1st from 1-4 PM in UH 650 as well as Wednesday the 3rd from 12-5 PM also in UH 650. GEO will pass another comprehensive proposal to the University on Monday the 1st and will likely receive a response. This will likely repeat on Wednesday. Come and make your voice heard in our decisions to accept or reject the proposals that the University gives to the GEO!

Update: November 21, 2015

The Bargaining Committee met with the University’s bargaining team to discuss our healthcare proposals. They had questions last week that we put off to receive their comprehensive contract proposal. We feel like we addressed the concerns that they had. The message from the University was: that CampusCare is great and incomparable to other insurance plans, that their main decision driver is cost to the program but not the users, and that when medically necessary care is not covered by our insurance its unfortunate but uncontrollable.

After discussing healthcare we asked for an update on the University’s economic proposals. They did not have one. In fact, they indicated that no update to their proposals would be forthcoming, likely until the new year. However, they did reiterate their desire for absolutely no changes to the old contract. When pushed, they indicated that they would only make changes on wages and the healthcare fee. They offered campus wage (a % increase to wages) which will most likely be 0% next semester, with the state budget stalemate given as an excuse. We are tired of their rhetoric and empty proposals.

Update: November 13, 2015

The GEO met with the University for our 16th bargaining session on 11/11. We have now been in bargaining for more than 6 months and working without a contract for almost 3. The University passed us a comprehensive proposal (meaning it addressed every article in the contract), which was as terrible, if not more terrible, than we expected. Highlights include (in the order they appear in the contract):

  • The University wants the rights to take away appointments without replacing them even after the offer letter is signed (This is a right we already have under the contract!!!)
  • No change to the minimum and only campus wage program increases for continuing students
  • No change to fees including Campus Care
  • The University wants to collect signed member cards before they have given us a list of members for the semester
  • The University wants the right to immediately terminate members who fail to complete ethics training
  • The University wants to end guaranteed tuition waivers

The University admitted that the proposal for wages and the Campus Care fee were not necessarily accurate because their lead negotiator had not received some information that was needed. We closed the session by letting them know that we could not accept this offer and that we would like to see the real figures for wages.

Update: November 6, 2015

The GEO met with the University for the 15th bargaining session on 11/04. It was decided that GEO would not pass counter-proposals back to the University as we wanted to push on through the last 2 semi-economic articles. This did not please the University (as it did not play into the game they like to play: stall, stall, stall). However, we were able to get a verbal commitment from the University that they will propose a comprehensive economic package next week. They explicitly stated that the only movement in this package would be around wages, health care, and fees and that it would be paltry and unpalatable to our members. Next week’s bargaining session (11/11) is highly important as we will see if the University delivers on their commitment to bring a comprehensive economic package and how sparse it is.

Update: October 29, 2015

The Bargaining Committee and GEO members met with the University for the 14th contract negotiations session on Wednesday 10/28/2015. Currently, 15 of 28 articles in the contract have been tentatively agreed to (TAed). 4 of those 15 do not have any changes whatsoever. 9 of those 15 articles only have global language changes (his/her -> Their | assistant -> employee); these global language changes have been tabled and are not yet agreed to. In only 2 of those 15 articles have we won some changes: a more flexible timeline for the grievance procedure and protection from termination if you miss mandatory training for an excused reason.

This means that there are still 13 articles left (out of 15) with changes. We will be polling you, the members, for your priorities at the next general membership meeting on November 11th at 6PM in Gallery 400 on Peoria St. In doing so we can hopefully speed negotiations up. Also, knowing your priorities will help the Bargaining Committee to pressure the University to present the GEO with a comprehensive financial proposal. By doing so we can show the University we know what we want, and we will not give up what we want without a tenacious fight.