3/12/15 GEO Bargaining Update

Hello GEO members!

The bargaining committee met on Tuesday for the first of two bargaining sessions this week. Management repeatedly refuses to share information with GEO on healthcare that would enable both sides to bargain more fully and effectively over this critical issue. In response, GEO has filed a formal information request to which management is (predictably) dragging their heels to respond. Management thinks that if they drag out negotiations that GEO will get tired and settle for less than what our members deserve. GEO is here to say that management’s strategy will not work; GEO will not be worn down by a petty delay.

On Tuesday, the GEO bargaining committee hand delivered a letter to Chancellor Subbaswamy demanding him to direct his negotiating team to stop these childish games and to bargain in good faith. GEO is giving the administration an opportunity to work with us to correct this situation and get this contract settled in a timely fashion. If GEO doesn’t see significant movement from management at the next bargaining session this Friday, then we will take this as a signal that it is time to escalate our contract campaign.

A contract campaign will not be as effective without the full participation of our members. GEO’s mobilizing force has been canvassing the campus this week, informing members of our bargaining successes and struggles. GEO has several campaign strategies in mind and many different ways for members to show support for GEO and frustration with management. Be on the lookout for days of action and events in the near future!

Here are some of the major issues that GEO has already won:

• All-gender bathrooms all graduate employees are now able to request access to an all-gender bathroom near their place of work (classroom, office space, or otherwise)

• Affirmative action hiring committee: we are pushing the administration to hire more graduate student-workers of color and revise their hiring procedures

• Paid family and medical leave: we got administration to include 40 hours of paid family and medical leave in one of their proposals. This would be on top off our additional time off and vacation time (which is already guaranteed in our contract)

• Out of Pocket Maximum (OOPM): management has stated at the table that they could lower to OOPM from $3,000 to $1,500, but GEO knows we can do better

The chart below illustrates the three biggest proposals left to go: wages, workload and healthcare. We present a side-by-side comparison of our proposals and management’s counter-proposals on these issues. Management’s proposals simply don’t stack up and are not in the best interests of graduate student workers.

Management’s wage proposal does not even begin to keep up with inflation and the rising cost-of-living expenses. This “raise” would keep graduate student employee wages stagnant and would not alleviate the burdens currently faced by our members.

The rampant overwork of our members that happens across all departments is unacceptable and must stop. Management simply refuses to see overwork as an issue.

Co-insurance shifts costs from the plan to our members, to the tune of thousands of dollars per year for our members. UMass admits that co-insurance discourages many members from getting needed health care for themselves and their families. This must stop!

  Union Proposal Admin Proposal
Wages 5% increase per year (15% total over 3 years)  1.5% increase per semester (9% total over 3 years) 
Workload Recognize daily and weekly workload maximums and institute an expedited workload grievance procedure  Do nothing: The Admin believes we are already sufficiently protected 
Healthcare Create co-payment system with dramatically decreased out of pocket maximum (ex :you pay a flat fee of say $25 for your doctor’s visit)  Continue with co-insurance (ex: you pay 15% of whatever your doctor’s visit is going to cost) 

We hope that all of our members have a great Spring Break and we look forward to waging a successful campaign with you when classes resume.

In solidarity,
GEO

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