Bargaining update

For the July 2, 2003 bargaining session the majority of the observers came from the Physics department, reflecting the fact that the session was the first to be held on the North side of campus, at the Grainger Engineering Library. It is likely that sessions will continue to be held at Grainger for the remainder of the summer.
The session was notable for the broad range of topics discussed. Subjects covered included the GEO’s paydate proposal as well as the articles on grievance procedure, personnel files, union rights, employee rights, distribution of information, and evaluation. The scope of the discussion was attributable to the fact that the sides are wrapping up discussion on several articles. Grievance procedure was tabled, and discussion of distribution of information and employee rights is likely to conclude at the next session.

The sides exchanged proposals on grievance before agreeing to table the article. The main outstanding issues have to do with the scope of disputes to be handled by the grievance procedure. There has also been difficulty arriving at language which would ensure that grads not be penalized for their participation in the grievance process.
The GEO is waiting on an Administration response on the distribution of information article. Bargaining team members agreed that unless the Administration accepts the proposal the article will likely be tabled.
“Our current proposal is about as far as we’re willing to go,” said GEO’s chief negotiator Rosemary Braun. “We’ve offered to concede on a number of points, but we won’t sacrifice our right to communicate with our constituency.”
The outlook is more positive regarding the employee rights article. The bargaining team had hoped to reach agreement on the article at the Wednesday session. Those plans were derailed when the Administration presented a proposal with a clause responding to the GEO’s previously undiscussed article on expenses. That clause was withdrawn at the request of the GEO, and the bargaining team must now decide if the current administration proposal is acceptable. The only remaining difference between the sides lies in the phrasing of a clause outlining protections for international grads who experience difficulty obtaining the documentation required for employment.
“Neither side ever gets everything they ask for,” said Vahagan Minasian, bargaining team member and grad in Math, “but they’ve agreed to the key provision of the clause. We’ll have to decide if that’s enough.”
Wednesday was the first discussion of the evaluation article. The article outlines the procedures for the evaluation of grads as employees. In an unplanned coincidence, both sides came prepared with proposals. Some common ground has already been found. The GEO accepted administration language regarding the kinds of evaluations that might be used, and the administration adopted a GEO clause giving grads the right to respond in writing to any evaluation they receive. Among the issues still to be resolved is the extent to which grads will be involved in the formulation of evaluative procedures in their departments.
Discussion also continued on the GEO’s proposal to fairly handle this Fall’s change in paydates. The GEO’s latest proposal incorporates stated Administration policy regarding both late arriving grads and the handling of 3-month summer appointments. The GEO also asks that 12-month appointments be treated the same as summer appointments. The Administration has yet to produce a written proposal on the issue.
The Administration has also continued to refuse to respond in writing to the GEO’s union rights proposal. In response to Administration worries about clarity, the GEO team rewrote several clauses of the article and submitted the revision at Wednesday’s session. Once again the Administration verbally rejected the entire article.
“The sides agreed that all proposals would be in writing,” said GEO bargaining chief Braun. “Their refusal to present a proposal could be interpreted as a breach of that agreement.”
No proposals were exchanged on personnel files, but some fruitful discussion was had. The Administration clarified some of their record keeping procedures in the hope that a fuller understanding of University policy would forestall some possible disagreements. The Administration plans to present a written proposal at the next bargaining session.
The next bargaining session will be held in Room 329 of the Grainger Engineering Library on Wednesday July 16. The dates of future sessions is still undecided, but it has been tentatively proposed that meetings be held July 29, August 5, and August 12.