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Grad union will meet OSU Pres., Demand to bargin

Tommorrow, January 22 at 3:30 PM a bunch of OSU graduate teaching and research assistants and union members will meet with Interim President Tim White in 600 Kerr Administration. They will present him with petitions containing over 760 signatures collected during Fall Term from the grad workers and their supporters on campus seeking paid health insurance benefits for graduate assistants.
CHILDREN OF THE GULF WAR opens with presentation by Oregon PSR
CHILDREN OF THE GULF WAR opens with presentation by Oregon PSR
CHILDREN OF THE GULF WAR opens with presentation by Oregon PSR
CHILDREN OF THE GULF WAR opens with presentation by Oregon PSR
Grad union will meet OSU Pres., Demand to bargin
Grad union will meet OSU Pres., Demand to bargin
CHILDREN OF THE GULF WAR opens with presentation by Oregon PSR
CHILDREN OF THE GULF WAR opens with presentation by Oregon PSR
CHILDREN OF THE GULF WAR opens with presentation by Oregon PSR
CHILDREN OF THE GULF WAR opens with presentation by Oregon PSR
CHILDREN OF THE GULF WAR opens with presentation by Oregon PSR
CHILDREN OF THE GULF WAR opens with presentation by Oregon PSR
On Wednesday, January 22 at 3:30 PM a delegation of OSU graduate teaching and research assistants will meet with Interim President Tim White in 600 Kerr Administration. They will present him with petitions containing over 750 signatures collected during Fall Term from their co-workers and OSU community members seeking paid health insurance benefits for graduate assistants.

The petition presenters will be members of the Coalition of Graduate Employees (CGE), a labor union affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which was recognized by OSU three years ago as the exclusive bargaining representative of the majority of its graduate assistants. Presentation of the petition will mark the formal kickoff of CGE's campaign to negotiate paid health insurance benefits this academic year.

"Graduate assistants have been trying for seven years to get OSU to provide us with paid health insurance", said CGE President Luke Ackerman, a Graduate Research Assistant in Chemistry. "It's our biggest employment-related concern and we need OSU to make this their priority, too. Nearly all of our peer institutions, including the University of Oregon, provide their graduate employees with fully-paid health insurance coverage. If they can do it, so can OSU."

"Besides," Ackerman continued, "OSU realizes it must pay for our health insurance, if it intends to compete successfully with other schools for 'the best graduate students in the world.'" In the current draft version of the OSU 2007 Plan, graduate assistants are scheduled to receive a $330 per term health insurance subsidy by the year 2006. "We're glad to see that," Ackerman said, "but unless the timetable is accelerated, very few of today's graduate assistants will benefit and other schools will continue to have a recruiting advantage."

"We know the university is faced with shrinking financial resources from the State of Oregon", Ackerman added, "but we also know OSU can afford the cost of graduate employee health insurance. The University of Oregon currently spends about $2 million a year on graduate assistant health insurance premiums. OSU only contributes about $500,000 to help us pay for our insurance."

OSU provides no health insurance benefits for graduate assistants. However, CGE bargained an agreement with OSU in 2000 that requires the university to pay every graduate assistant who has a 0.2 FTE appointment $110 per term in lieu of health insurance. That agreement allows CGE to renegotiate the issue of health insurance at this time. The ASOSU (student government) offers students a very limited accident and sickness insurance plan, which graduate assistants can purchase for $324 per term.

"Most graduate assistants have few resources," said Ackerman. "A great many of us earn less than $1,000 a month, and some of us make under $700 a month. Spending $200 a term on health insurance puts a huge dent in our budgets." According to a survey CGE did last spring, fully 20% of OSU graduate assistants carry no health insurance at all. Ackerman added, "These co-workers try to stay healthy and avoid seeking medical treatment as long as they can. As a result, many unfortunately develop more severe conditions and end up paying larger medical bills when they finally do see a doctor."

homepage: homepage: http://www.peak.org/~cge

same shit 21.Jan.2003 20:26

old grad

Its the same shit as before. Back in '99-2000 the administration refused to provide grad employees with health insurance, but agreed it was important. They said that they couldn't do that because the Oregon University System (OUS) was just about to provide all Oregon college students with health insurance and they didn't have the authority to negotiate it. To offset their inability to provide this important benefit the union agreed that until OUS finished creating their own full student health insurance plan, OSU should provide a health insurance stipend. They wouldn't even agree to call it that. Instead the administration takes credit and calls it a recruitment and retention differential. Since that time OUS has done nothing. In fact our state director of higher education has scrapped the health insurance plans all together. Now he only wants the state to provide 1/2 of the schools operating budgets. He calls this his 'deal'. Currently, after two years of state budget cuts to higher ed., the state of Oregon funds only 73-74% of its universities operating costs. The national average is more than 78%. Since then the university has raised student fees more than 5 fold to ~$400/term and tuition by more than 8% this year alone. This is in addition to another $118/term tuition raise planed. Even more raises are planed if measure 28 should fail. In fact a few years ago a student died (non-emergency) shortly after they didn't get quality diagnosis through the universities health care system. Students have had to leave school because of the costs associated with health problems all the time. There are students with cracked teeth, rotten teeth, taking out education loans to pay for surgeries. There are women, forced to leave school because once pregnant they couldn't afford the universities health insurance. Sometimes it's an issue of the university accepting many grad students, awarding very low assistantships (.1-.3FTE) and nearly PROFITING off their mandatory student fees, surcharges, and work they provide the university. This is classic exploitation of the worker. For international students it's almost like indentured service. Because international students are required to have health insurance, the university automatically signs them up for its $104/mo bare bones health insurance. Then if they don't know enough to find something cheaper, they have to pay. This is in addition to the mandatory $80/term health care 'fee'. Even if they do know enough, international students are likely to purchase a cut-rate (often fraudulent) health insurance carrier only to find out too late the hard way, or if the university doesn't 'accept' the alternate carrier it automatically switches them back to the university's $104/mo bare bones health insurance. All this is found out once they shell out $1000-$5000 to come here for the opportunity to study. So they can't just leave... they have to stay, and work, and pay! Now not everyone has this rough of an experience, but it happens with alarming regularity. Besides, this is a no-brainer for the university, insured workers stay healthier, are happier, and more productive. Even if that were the only thing that mattered (which it isn't!) it makes fiscal sense. Instead, the short-sighted and narrow-minded administration stuck its head in the sand and waited for a crisis to come along so it could shirk its duty.

and now they have 22.Jan.2003 19:02

grad student

And now they have met and politely been told, "Thank you for your input. We'll let you know our final decision." Increadible.

bargain with aft, too 22.Jan.2003 23:06

wobbly grad in california

it is good to see grad student employees organizing. as you move from recognition to contract negotiations to full fledged aft members, you should consider getting any promises made by aft paid staff from aft in writing. in other words, right now you have negotiating power with aft and should use it to secure promises made.

i mention this because during the uaw campaign at university of california, uaw staff promised graduate student employees things which were quickly taken away. the most important promise was a commitment to keeping separate locals at each of the eight campuses. there is now one local, which is over 400 miles away for some folks in southern california. this was one of many broken promises.

you can negotiate on everything from dues retention to guarentees of no merging/amalgamation with other aft locals. good luck!