The proposals on the table that day included grievance procedure, employee rights, and distribution of information. The sides also discussed measures suggested by the GEO for dealing fairly with the change in pay dates that will occur this fall. Near the end of the meeting, the Administration presented counter-proposals on both the grievance procedure and distribution of information. The Administration team also promised to put together a response to the pay date proposal for the next bargaining session.
Most of the meeting was spent talking about the grievance procedure. When asked, Moosa agreed that this was the most important proposal discussed. He identified the key issues as, “gaining a broad definition and a reasonable timeline for filing a grievance.”
Rosemary Braun, grad in physics and GEO’s Chief Negotiator, concurred. “Those are the areas of substantial disagreement,” she said, “the Administration is doing everything it can to limit opportunities for grad employees to file grievances.”
Braun was quick to point out that substantial progress had been made on the grievance procedure, noting that the sides were in agreement with regard to the mechanics of filing and resolving grievances. Progress has also been made towards ensuring that grads won’t be penalized for their participation in the grievance process.
Comparatively little movement was made on employee rights and distribution of information. This lack of progress is partially explained by the fact that Monday’s meeting was dominated by discussion of the grievance procedure. But GEO Bargaining Team members agreed that another factor was Administration disinterest.
Hannah Bellwoar, grad in English and member of the Bargaining Team, was dismayed by what she viewed as lack of preparation. “It seems like they don’t even read the proposals before they come to the meeting,” she said.
The GEO’s employee rights proposal is intended to guarantee that grad employees have access to the materials necessary to perform their jobs effectively, to provide protections for international grads, and to ensure that inclusion in the bargaining unit is not used by the administration as an excuse to deny any grad employee access to benefits linked to her status as a student. While the Administration has been willing to adopt language designed to assure employees the opportunity to do their work, they have been unwilling to take action on the other issues.
The distribution of information clause would require the University to provide GEO with timely updates regarding the composition of the bargaining unit. GEO’s proposal also includes provisions for enhanced access to campus mail. An Administration counter-proposal is currently under review by the Bargaining Team.
The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday, June 11, from 1pm to 4pm in Room 514 Illini Union Bookstore (enter the Bookstore building at the northeast corner and use the elevator to go to the 5th floor).