With the data gathered through two phases of member surveys, contract talks, walk-throughs and GEO leadership’s experiences working with members over the last two years, we have developed and submitted just over fifteen initial demands based in our members’ diverse experiences, needs, and perspectives (called “proposals”). Please be advised that the content of our demands should be expected to change as negotiations progress; we will keep you posted on important changes as negotiations move forward. Below is a list of the initial proposals GEO-UAW2322 has provided to the administration:
RESIDENTIAL LIFE ISSUES: The current contract defines all grad student employees who work in the Residential Life department as ARDs, though we know that this is no longer the case. Our duties, terms and conditions in the Residential Life department are not reflected in our current contract. We have asked to identify all changes which may be in conflict with the existing contract so that we may determine how to resolve any such inconsistencies.
ARTICLE 15, NON-DISCRIMINATION: As academics,our work in the classroom, lab, or library stacks can be mentally and emotionally intensive. We want to make sure that all grad student employees have protection when our work is impacted by mental and emotional health problems which may not rise to the current standard of ‘disability.’
ARTICLE 17, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: Following widespread complaints about institutionalized discrimination, we have proposed the formation of a joint committee– including representatives from GEO and representatives from the administration– be established to discuss affirmative action and anti-discrimination measures. The committee will be responsible for ensuring that hiring practices across departments include active effort to hire graduate employees from underrepresented populations for GEO-eligible positions. In order to ensure timely movement, we’d like the plan to be ready for implementation no later than 6 months after the contract is ratified.
ARTICLE 22, WORKLOAD: Our current workload clause has several loopholes making enforcement difficult, and several departments have made unilateral changes which have increased our workloads over the last five years. We have proposed several updates to fix these issues:
- Additional methods for calculating workload caps that address workload over the course of the entire semester, not just week to week;
- An expedited grievance process for overwork grievances;
- A requirement that the university notify GEO and all workers in the affected department before instituting changes to curriculum, class size, credit hours, etc. that would increase graduate employees’ workload.
Additionally, our contract currently does not differentiate between TAs’ and TOs’ unequal workloads; as instructors of record, TOs carry far more responsibility. We have proposed clear recognition of TOs’ increased responsibilities. We have also proposed increasing the minimum TO workload from ten (10) hours to fifteen (15) hours, in order to reflect the additional work that goes into course preparation and other TO-specific labor.
ARTICLE 23, APPOINTMENTS/REAPPOINTMENTS: Although departments currently must give written notifications of their appointment procedures, we are currently not allowed to formally grieve over the accuracy and content of certain aspects of these notifications. We want the contract to protect us by making sure that we can grieve when departmental criteria is not being followed, or when the procedures themselves undermine fairness in appointments.
ARTICLE 26, DISCIPLINE/DISCHARGE: Although the current contract says we can only be disciplined or discharged for “just cause,” it remains vague. We want to spell out more clearly what that means and protect ourselves from being disciplined in ways that do not follow clear and transparent procedures.
ARTICLE 30, HEALTH & SAFETY: Nobody should be forced to work in a space that threatens their health or personal safety. We have proposed language that protects our workers’ rights to contact the Environmental Health & Safety office about workplace concerns, as well as a joint labor-management committee to address workplace safety concerns.
ARTICLE 32, STIPENDS: In order for our wages to keep pace with inflation and remain competitive, we have proposed that the University increase the GEO minimum stipend and all pay rates by 6% each year for the next 3 years. We are still researching and developing a proposal to increase minimum stipends for Continuing and Professional Education instructors.
ARTICLE 35, HEALTH FEES: We want to eliminate co-insurance payments! We’re currently liable for up to $3,250 in out-of-pocket medical costs each year, and some members have reported being billed far more than that. The university initially introduced co-insurance unilaterally and without negotiations, so this time around, we are asking for a clause forbidding any healthcare plan changes that result in reductions to our benefits or increases to our out-of-pocket costs.
We want the university to pay more into our Health and Welfare Trust Fund (money for our dental and vision, childcare, and gym reimbursements) in order to keep up with rising costs.
SUMMER EMPLOYMENT: Graduate students on academic year- and semester-only contracts need summer income and should not be denied summer jobs on-campus! Graduate student employees shall be eligible for on-campus summer employment (outside of the bargaining unit) on the same basis as undergraduates.
ARTICLE 45, PARKING FEES: Pregnant graduate student employees should be given access to parking that is close to their work space, with a doctor’s note, at any stage in pregnancy. Also, all grad student employees should have the option of paying parking fees through pre-tax payroll deductions on the same 10 payment schedule as other student fees made through payroll deduction.
ARTICLE 46, WORK SPACE: Currently it is unsafe or impossible on our campus for some of our members to meet their basic need of using a restroom. We demand that the University provide all graduate student employees with access to all-gender, fully accessible bathrooms in each building.
Currently, due to departmental inequalities, grad student workers have unequal access to the printing and copying that is necessary to do most jobs. We propose that the University pre-load $50.00 on every grad student employee’s U-Card each semester for the purpose of using campus printing and copying resources for work-related tasks.
INDEMNIFICATION CLAUSE: We believe the GEO contract should guarantee that if a student, a student’s family, or any other party brings a legal action or sanction against a graduate employee for actions taken in the course of employment, the university must defend the employee’s innocence and cover their legal costs. This protection is crucial for our workers; we handle delicate matters like grades and often do not earn enough money to cover legal costs associated with lawsuits.
PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: We believe all graduate student employees should have access to paid parental leave.