Today was our 26th bargaining session, the fourth since our strike began.
The administration still did not have a response to the proposal we gave them on Tuesday on waiving and capping fees. We had also given them a proposal on Tuesday on not denying GEO the right to speak at departmental orientations for new TAs to be able to inform new grad workers about their workplace rights and give them an opportunity to join the union, something the administration has previously been opposed to. They did not have a response to this either today.
The federal mediator told us he thinks the administration still has no willingness to have the General Fee or International Student Fee be reduced, capped, or waived in any way. He suggested the admins might only consider offsetting future increases to the General Fee by having a wage raise in the same amount of the increase (which, unlike a waiver, would be taxable because it would be part of our wages), though they have not actually made a proposal to us on this. The members in the bargaining room had a very long caucus discussion about this, trying to think about creative ways to end the stalemate in negotiations, ultimately concluding that we still need meaningful relief on fees.
We will hold another bargaining session tomorrow, 10am to 12pm, in UH 650. By agreeing to so many bargaining sessions but without being willing to change their position, it feels to many of us that the admins are simply trying to waste our time and use up our energy instead of reaching a settlement.
Also, to clarify something mentioned in the last bargaining update: when the police told us on Tuesday we couldn’t bring picket signs into UH, they specifically meant signs on sticks, and we still brought in signs without sticks. There were no police present at today’s session that we could see.
GEO Bargaining Team