Monday, October 8, 2012
The 2012-14 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is now in place. The GTFF ratified the new contract during a week-long voting period that closed on Wednesday, October 10, 2012. The final agreement is now posted on the Human Resources website. Here are the highlights:
SALARY (Article 21)
Minimum salaries will increase 2% in 2012-13 and another 1.5% in 2013-14. Although these increases are less robust than we would have preferred, they are reflective of the GTFF’s preference to enhance health benefits and substantially increase the fee subsidy, and they are in line with our peers. Approximately 50% of GTFs are paid at the minimum salary rates.
The university has demonstrated its commitment to minimize the incidence of late September pay for GTFs by taking the following measures:
- The Graduate School will follow up with heads of departments with affected GTFs in September to identify means of reducing the number of affected GTFs; and with heads of departments whose GTF appointment contracts have not been received by the Graduate School’s mid-July deadline to identify any issues and to document the department’s plan to expedite fall GTF appointments.
- The Graduate School will compile a list of departments in which issues have been identified and forward the list to the dean of the respective school/college.The Graduate School will distribute an instructive memo each August from the dean of the Graduate School to departments to be forwarded to its faculty, staff and GTFs highlighting the department’s, the graduate student employees’, and the Payroll Office’s role with regards to completing and submitting hire documents, including the I-9. The memo will include clear action steps for each party, with target dates for completion and related outcomes.
- An email was sent last week to GTF hiring units with GTFs who may experience a late September paycheck. The email outlined new ways to offset the potential adverse impact of being paid after September 30, including access to an enhanced version of the Jesse M. Bell Graduate Loan and remittance of late fees and charges incurred through October as a result of not paying the GTF’s portion of fees.
TUITION AND FEES (Article 22)
The university continues to provide resources to cover the full cost of tuition regardless of the GTF's FTE. This support is of increasing value to GTFs as UO tuition rates continue to climb as a means to help offset reductions in state appropriations. Significant improvements in the 2012-14 CBA include the following:
- Increases the university’s contribution to mandatory fees by more than 50%. This university support reduces out-of-pocket costs and more than offsets the newly-bargained 5% contribution to health insurance expected of all GTFs (see below for more on healthcare). Beginning in fall 2012, the university provides $372.25 in mandatory fees, leaving only $61 per quarter to be paid by each GTF.
- Alleviates the GTF’s responsibility to pay fees for self-support courses that are required by the GTF’s graduate program.
- Better defines course fees so that GTFs remain responsible for course fees that fit the OUS definition of such fees, namely those that focus primarily on consumables or travel expenses that save students money through the economies of “bulk purchasing” by the University.
HEALTH INSURANCE (Article 23)
Bargaining over health insurance continues to be complicated by increasing costs and anticipated changes that are part of the federal “Affordable Health Care Act”. Key facets of the new agreement include:
- The University’s support both maintains the current level of benefits in the GTFF health plan and provides additional funding to cover the cost of soon to be mandated preventative medicine benefits.
- GTFs, like other employee groups, will now contribute 5% to their individual premiums. For the singly-enrolled GTF, this is a new cost during the academic year, amounting to approximately $50 per term in 2012-13. For those enrolled with partners, children and families this amounts to a significant savings per household.
- During the summer, those employed as GTFs will continue to pay 5%. This amounts to a savings of at least 20% of the premium cost for all enrollment categories.
- During the summer, those not employed as GTFs but entitled to insurance based on their previous spring term appointment, will realize a decrease in out-of-pocket costs as well. During the last biennium, each of these students paid approximately 27% of their premium costs. They will now pay 20%, effective summer 2013.
- The University’s contribution to the GTFF Trust’s healthcare administration increased to $87,500 in each year of the agreement and a joint committee will be convened this fall to explore health insurance options for all graduate students.
- The anticipated cost to the University is close to $5.5 million per year, which covers 94% of the plan’s total costs.
Highlights of the agreement reached on non-financial articles are summarized below.
Work Agreement and Work Assignment (Article 9). The University has committed to posting all GDRS documents for the coming year on the Graduate School website by August 15.
Appointment and Reappointment (Article 17). Both sides have agreed that:
- Graduate students may apply for GTF positions in all departments or employing units. There can be no limits on the number of GTF positions for which a graduate student may apply.
- Employing units will be encouraged to appoint full academic year (fall, winter, spring) appointments whenever feasible. It is already the case that GTFs will be employed year-to-year rather than term-to-term whenever possible, meaning that students should be given information up front as to their funding for the year, whenever this is possible.
Teaching Beyond Specified Workloads (Article 19). The provision related to the opportunity to teach more than one course beyond the specified workload limits in a single term has been updated, making it more clear and lending flexibility to departments offering this opportunity and to GTFs who volunteer to serve in this capacity.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Both sides are now in agreement with regard to increases to the minimum salaries, the breadth of tuition and course fee remission, and the costs associated with health insurance and healthcare administration. However, the disparity between current proposals on the mandatory fees subsidy has been deemed too great to resolve without the assistance of a mediator. After 11 sessions of active bargaining, the two parties agreed on June 26, 2012, to pursue mediation. A mediation session has been scheduled for September 6, 2012.
MANDATORY FEES SUBSIDY (Article 22)
The University, which continues to view compensation as a package, has proposed reducing each GTF’s out-of-pocket fee costs by 50%, from $140 to $70 per term. This reduction is part of the $1.9 million new dollars put on the table for the next biennium. Total compensation, which includes GTFs’ salaries, tuition, fees and insurance, amounts to around $43 million this year alone (not including summer).
In contrast, the GTFF has proposed covering mandatory fees at 100%. In 2012-13, this is valued at $433.25 per GTF per term, an estimated $1.8 million ($588,000 new dollars) for the year.
SALARY (Article 21)
Both the University and GTFF have proposed increases to the minimum salary rates of 2% in 2012-13 and 1% in 2013-14.
The GTFF has rescinded its $100 late pay fine proposal, having found the University’s proposal acceptable with regard to the small number of GTFs who receive their September paycheck after September 30 in spite of having signed their contracts and submitted other required paperwork on-time. At this time, both sides have proposed including an appendix that achieves the following: (1) the crediting of any interest or late fees incurred as a result of being paid late and not being able to pay one’s student bill; (2) expedited access to the Jesse M. Bell Graduate Loan with a waiver of the $8 loan fee; (3) increasing communication to GTFs and to faculty and staff in all hiring units about their roles in ensuring timely pay; and (4) more targeted training and support for hiring units identified as having GTFs affected by late pay.
SUPPORT FOR TUITION (Article 22)
Current proposals from both the University and GTFF support 100% tuition coverage, now to include fees for any self-support course that is being required as part of a graduate degree.
HEALTH INSURANCE (Article 23)
Both the University’s and GTFF’s current proposals involve the university providing 95% of the premiums for each GTF who elects coverage, regardless of their enrollment type (employee only, with partner, with children, with family), as well as $87,500 annually to pay for the administration of the plan. Each GTF will pay for 5% of his/her premium, estimated to cost the individually-insured GTF about $50 per term. GTFs will see an increase in benefits as the plan, under both sides’ proposals, namely, new preventive care coverage recommended by the Affordable Care Act, including routine mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, and other women’s services performed at no cost to the employee.
Mediation will be led by a mediator assigned through Oregon’s Employee Relations Board (ERB). A session has been scheduled for Thursday, September 6, 2012. The minimum number of days to remain in the mediation phase is 15 days. Mediation is not uncommon. In fact, a resolution was reached on the current UO-GTFF collective bargaining agreement during a single, 17-hour mediated session in August 2010.
If mediation is not successful, either party can declare an impasse by writing to the ERB and to the other party. Within seven days of this declaration, both parties submit their final offers and related cost summaries to the mediator. The offers are made public and a 30-day cooling off period begins. During this period, the two parties may continue to resolve issues.
After the cooling off period, the employer may implement all or a portion of its final offer after providing reasonable notice to the union of its intent to do so (5 days). Also after the cooling off period, the union may initiate a strike, with 10 days’ notice of its intent to do so.
Tuesday, April 9, 2012 (Edited 4/10/12)
The two parties have come closer on a number of items. The University's proposals focus on total compensation for GTFs, which includes salaries, tuition and fees, and insurance benefits. We have made significant progress in all three areas although, ultimately, the final agreement will be informed by how each of these aspects come together. In summary, the University is offering a compensation package that will result in solid gains for each GTF. Here are two examples:
A GTF paid at the minimum rate who is insuring his/her partner and child(ren). A GTF paid at the minimum rate who is insuring his/her partner and child(ren) year-round would realize a gain of $1,128 in the first year of the contract (based on a .42 FTE appointment at level 1in fall, winter, and spring).
A GTF paid at the minimum rate who is insuring only him/herself year-round will see a gain of $317 in the first year of the contract (based on a .42 FTE appointment at level 1 in fall, winter, and spring).
Read more about the University’s most recent (March 20) proposals:
Update on Information Release Consent Language (Appendix C)
On February 20, the two parties reached agreement regarding new language in Appendix C, which describes the delivery of data between the University and the GTFF, and outlines the release of information to be included in the GTF appointment contract. Read the agreed-upon proposal.
Update on Work Environment Proposals(Article 10)
The University proposes to address immediate needs of GTF workspace improvements identified by the GTFF through University resource expenditures of up to $100,000.
This proposal is in response to that of the GTFF to create a permanent fund of $100,000 annually to be administered by a joint committee that would identify and address GTFF workspace issues. Existing language in Article 10 already provides an avenue through which the GTFF can identify workspace issues for the University to review and resolve. Pursuant to this article, the GTFF recently provided the UO with a list, in priority order, of GTF workspaces it believes do not meet established requirements. All 108 units in which GTFs are assigned -were identified on the GTFF’s list.
Update on Salary Proposals (Article 21)
The University accepted the GTFF’s February 13 proposed minimum salary level increases of 2.5% in year one and 1.5% in year two of the next biennium as part of its full economic proposal.
The University’s current proposal also provides support to the small number of GTFs who receive their September paycheck after September 30 in spite of having signed their contracts and submitted other required paperwork on-time. This proposed support includes: (1) the crediting of any interest or late fees incurred as a result of being paid late and not being able to pay one’s student bill; and (2) expedited access to the Jesse M. Bell Graduate Loan with a waiver of the $8 loan fee.
This proposal is in response to that of the GTFF (attached here) which involves a $100 per-person late pay remedy.
Update on Tuition and Fees Proposals (Article 22)
The current University proposal:
Extends the tuition benefit to cover fees for self-support courses required for the degree;
Reduces each GTF’s out-of-pocket mandatory fees cost from $140 to $93 per term, an additional $47 savings per term to each GTF appointed in fall, winter, and spring;
Maintains the waiver of the $325 matriculation fee for first-time students who are also GTFs.
During negotiations, the GTFF brought to the University’s attention a concern about music performance fees. In response, the University’s bargaining team has worked to ensure that certain music performance and ensemble course fees are remitted for GTFs, effective immediately (spring 2012).
GTFs will continue to be responsible for approved course fees, which are typically specific to materials and services consumed in a particular course (e.g., clay used in an art class, the cost of transportation for a field trip for a specific class).
Update on Health Insurance Proposals (Article 23)
There are two aspects of health insurance being negotiated: the University’s financial contribution to premium costs, for which benefits improvements have implications, and the University’s contribution to the plan’s administration.
CONTRIBUTION TO PREMIUM COSTS
Academic Year (Fall, Winter and Spring Terms): Both parties have proposed that each participating GTF contribute 5% of the applicable premium (e.g., individual, with family, etc. ). Currently, the per-term out-of-pocket cost ranges from $0 for individually-enrolled GTFs to $358.62 (or 13.7%) for GTFs with families.
For a GTF with family, the current University proposal represents a positive difference of $227.75 per term. In other words, a GTF who insures his/her family would see a savings of $227.75 per term, or $680 per year. For an individually-insured GTF, the current University proposal represents an increase in costs of $46 per term, which is offset entirely by the proposed $47 per term decrease in out-of-pocket costs for mandatory fees. See the table below which illustrates how the University’s proposal on insurance and fees benefit each GTF.
Summer Term: Both parties agree that each participating GTF should continue to contribute to the applicable insurance premium.
The UO proposes that each participating GTF pay 20% of their premium. Currently, GTFs contribute an average of 26% in summer, with per-person costs ranging from $317.52 (20%) for a GTF who also insures his/her children to $242.43 (27%) for individually-insured GTFs. In no case would the University’s current proposal result in additional costs to GTFs.
The GTFF has proposed that the all GTFs’ current contribution to premium costs in the summer be further reduced to 5%.
While both parties have proposed maintaining the current level of benefits, the GTFF has also proposed changes in benefits that would increase the total cost of the plan by an estimated 3.5%.
Summary of University Proposal on Insurance and Fees:
|GTF by Insurance Category
||Current Premium Per Term
||Current Premium Per Year (fall, winter, spring and summer)
||Current Cost Per Year to GTF
||UO Proposal: Cost Per Year to GTF
Difference between Proposal and Current
Cost Per Year to GTF
|UO Proposal: Additional $47 Per Term Savings in Fees
||Net In-Pocket Effect on GTF Per Year
|GTF plus Child(ren)
|GTF plus Partner/Spouse
|GTF plus Family
*This summary does not account for proposed increases to the mimimum salaries. Because salary is dependent on FTE, GTF level, and annual pay rate, salary is too complex to report in this way.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE PLAN
The University proposes to maintain its current annual support of $85,000 towards the GTF insurance administrative costs.
Both parties have proposed the formation of a joint committee to explore and make recommendations about the GTFF Health and Welfare Trust Agreement as well as health insurance options for GTFs and other graduate students in light of requirements and options that may be on the horizon as a result of new and expected federal and state legislation.
The University’s proposal addresses the GTFF’s expressed concerns about adverse selection as a potential result of asking individually-insured GTFs to contribute to their premiums. “Adverse selection” is a term used to describe a situation in which a person’s interest in being insured is related to his/her risk for healthcare costs (e.g., those who are healthiest may decline to pay for insurance).
In an effort to understand how best to mitigate adverse selection, the University’s member of the Health and Welfare Trust conferred with the Trust’s consultant. Based on the consultant’s advice, the University offered the GTFF the following suggestions:
To set up term-by-term health insurance enrollment periods (currently there are no set periods and GTFs can enroll at any point in the term).
To use payroll deduction for insurance premium payments.
To work with the GTFF to develop an online health insurance registration process for use by GTFs (currently GTFs enroll in-person process utilizing hard copy registration forms).
The consultant’s advice conforms to practices commonly used at other institutions. For example, established enrollment periods are widely used by student and employer-led health insurance plans nationwide. Payroll deduction is already an option utilized by 20-30% of GTFs. Online registration options for enrolling graduate students in health care plans are in use at all 8 of our peer comparator institutions and many other universities that provide students with health insurance. Not only would online registration make signing up easier for GTFs, but it would also streamline a number of other administrative processes shared by the GTFF and University to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency. These include:
Confirming eligibility for insurance;
Making the (also currently a manual and paper-based) process for signing up for automatic payroll deduction for insurance premium payments more efficient; and
Identifying and logging GTFs who register as a full or fair share members.
The University has proposed that the two parties form a joint committee to develop and set up the online system in advance of Fall 2012.
Future Bargaining Meetings
The next bargaining session will take place on Tuesday, April 10. We expect the GTFF to present counterproposals to the articles cited above (Health, Safety and Work Environment (Article 10), Salary (Article 21), Tuition and Fees (Article 22), and Health Insurance (Article 23)).
March 2, 2012 (Edited 3/9/12)
The University and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) have begun negotiating the 2012-2014 UO-GTFF Collective Bargaining Contract. This update provides basic information about the progress made to date and a number of our current proposals. Given the centrality of graduate education to our mission and the valuable roles GTFs play in instruction, research and service, our goal is to reach a fair agreement that takes into account the fiscal challenges and constraints facing the institution.
The two parties have tentatively agreed to new language in two articles. Read the agreed upon proposals: Article 9; Article 17. Here are the highlights:
- Article 9, Work Agreement/Work Assignment. New language was added regarding the Office of Affirmative Action’s role in encouraging GTFs interested in filing employment-related discrimination complaints to contact the GTFF;
- Article 17, Appointment/Reappointments. New language ensures that all graduate students may apply for any GTF position and encourages departments to offer full-academic-year GTF appointments whenever feasible.
Our Current Economic Proposals
The University’s proposals on tuition and fees, insurance, and salary are intended to be viewed in terms of total compensation. They represent real expenditures to the University and provide tangible financial benefit to GTFs.
Tuition and Fees.The University continues to support a 100% tuition waiver for full-time study. In response to the GTFF proposal of waiving all fees, the University proposes:
- Extending the tuition benefit to cover fees for self-support courses required for the degree; and
- Reducing each GTF’s out-of-pocket mandatory fees cost from $140 to $93 per term, a $47 benefit per GTF per term, or $141 benefit per year.
- The waiver of the matriculation fee for first-time students who are also GTFs will remain in place.
Minimum Salary Rates. In response to the GTFF’s proposal of 4% plus 3% increase to the minimum salary rates, the UO proposal is a 1.5% plus 1.5% increase.
- This is in line with the 1.5% and 1.45% negotiated annual cost-of-living salary adjustments for SEIU-covered employees in the current biennium. No salary adjustments have been planned for other UO employees.
- About 60% of our GTFs are paid above these minimum salary rates, many of them substantially above those rates.
- Taking into account our current minimum salaries, as well as health benefits, tuition and fees, GTFs at UO who are resident students are the third highest paid among our AAU peer institutions*, behind only the University of California--Santa Barbara and the University of Michigan (our resident student GTF average minimum total compensation: $29,834; our non-resident student GTF average minimum total compensation: $36,233).
Health Insurance. Currently, the University contributes approximately 95% of the total premium cost during the academic year and about 75% of premium costs in the summer, for an overall contribution of 91%. The remaining costs are borne by participating GTFs enrolled with partners, children, and families during the academic year and by all students who enroll in GTF insurance in the summer. The individually-enrolled GTF pays nothing during the academic year.
The University’s proposal offers to cover 95% of the total cost of premiums during the academic year and—in keeping with the current contributions of other UO employees—asks that each participating GTF now contribute 5% of the cost of his/her premium during the academic year.
- Our proposed $47 per-GTF gain in fees offsets the individual GTFs’ 5% contribution during the academic year, holding them essentially harmless.
- GTFs most well served by this proposal are those in the most challenging position—GTFs with children and families. Currently, GTFs with families pay 14% of their premiums during the academic year. Our proposal drops this out-of-pocket expense to 5%.
Currently, those who select summer insurance pay 20-26% of their premiums, depending on their enrollment status (individual, with partner, etc.). The University proposal locks in the GTF’s summer out-of-pocket cost at 25% per person.
- This proposal maintains the current level of benefits. In contrast to this, university faculty and staff now contributing 5% of the cost of their health insurance premiums must also assume other new out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., increased prescription costs and visit co-pays) as a result of changes to their benefits plan; and
- This proposal upholds the current practice of offering this insurance to graduate students based on their spring appointment status—without summer or subsequent fall appointment.
- Potential additional costs for enrollment in health insurance during the summer term are also mitigated by the proposed $47 fee reduction per term during the academic year.
In short, the overall percentage of premium contribution would not change, but would be distributed evenly over all GTFs regardless of their enrollment status: 5% of premium during the academic year, 25% of premium during the summer term. This proposed more even participation in premium costs mirrors the recently instituted contribution in health care premium cost for employees in other employee groups at the UO with respect to the participation of each individual, rather than participation by particular employee groups.
About the Bargaining Process
The bargaining process officially commenced in November 2011, with the first round of presentations from the GTFF on January 24, 2012. Both sides have expressed a commitment to completing the bargaining cycle as quickly as possible.
The GTFF bargaining team: David Cecil (GTFF); Sierra Deutsch (Environmental Studies); Judith Lechner (German and Scandinavian); and Steve McAllister (Biology).
The University bargaining team: Kassy Fisher (Graduate School); Elaine Jones (College of Education); Linda King (Human Resources); Mark Lonergan (Chemistry); Andrew Marcus (College of Arts and Sciences); Marianne Nicols (College of Arts and Sciences); and Randy Wardlow (Human Resources).
Faculty and staff with questions about GTFF bargaining should contact Kassy Fisher (firstname.lastname@example.org; 541-346-2807) or Randy Wardlow (email@example.com; 541-346-2965). GTFs with questions are encouraged to contact the GTFF (firstname.lastname@example.org; 541-344-0832).
*The University of Oregon is one of just 61 members in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). As defined by the Oregon University System, UO’s eight peer institutions include Indiana University at Bloomington; University of California--Santa Barbara; University of Colorado--Boulder; University of Iowa; University of Michigan; University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill; University of Virginia; and University of Washington.