GTFF Mediation Continues Ahead of Start of Fall Term

The University and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation engaged in constructive dialogue but failed to reach an agreement on a 2014-2016 collective bargaining contract during a mediation session held Aug. 21. A second session with a mediator appointed by the Employment Relations Board is scheduled for Sept. 5.
Key issues still to be resolved include salary, health benefits and paid leave.
Prior to the start of mediation, the University proposed to increase minimum salaries for Level 1 GTFs by 12.2% over two years. Level 2 and Level 3 GTFs would receive 6% over two years. There was some discussion during mediation of the need to increase salaries equitably across all levels.  However, the session ended without agreement regarding salary.
The University continues to be willing to pay 95% of health insurance premiums for coverage that includes GTF partners and dependents. With rising healthcare costs still a concern, however, the University had asked union members to pay premium increases if they spike above 10%. During mediation, the University indicated it is willing to explore other strategies to control costs.
Little progress was made on paid parental leave.  Paid leave for GTFs represents a benefit that no other part-time, <.5 FTE, academic employee receives at the University of Oregon. And it is an exception the University is not willing to make.
Currently, GTFs are eligible for a total of 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for a birth or adoption of a child, to care for an ailing spouse or close relative, or if the GTF has a serious health condition.  If a GTF works 88 hours over the course of the term the leave is taken, the GTF has the right to retain his or her tuition waiver and health insurance benefits.
Additionally, should a GTF need to be away for as long as five days due to illness, bereavement or accident, departments already have the flexibility to manage the absence without docking GTF pay. The University has proposed contract language to better standardize this practice. 
The value of the total compensation package for a .49 FTE GTF over nine months ranged from $30,319 to $54,442 this past year. Compensation for GTFs is structured to support them as students first and foremost. It includes 100% tuition, fee subsidies, health benefits and a monthly salary for graduate students who are limited to working no more than 20 hours a week. The majority of GTFs earn salaries above the bargained minimum rates.
The University will continue to work hard to reach a tentative agreement with the union before the Fall term begins but, because of the timelines involved, at this point the University has no choice but to prepare for the possibility of a strike. The University will keep its commitment to serve students without interruption.
Updates and FAQs about the GTFF contract will be posted on this site. Faculty members, staff, students and others who have questions are welcome to email


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