Bargaining update

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The next set of negotiations is scheduled for Tuesday, July 29th, from 1-4 PM in Grainger Library, Room 329. Observers are encouraged to attend part or all of the session. While there usually frequent opportunities to leave early, observers should come at 12:45 or 2:15 and plan to stay for 90 minutes.
Aftermath of Pay Increase Negotiations
The GEO team expressed frustration with the Administrations behavior during the sidebar negotiations of the pay raise. In particular, the GEO team criticized the Administrations imposition of artificial deadlines and the fact that the Administration reneged on assurances that such issues as pay-inversion and the restoration of merit raises would be addressed in the talks. The GEO team made known its intention to conduct all future negotiations in the open at the main table.
Two other wage related issues were also discussed. First, the Administration responded to GEO worries that some assistants may have been paid below the minimum stipend level during the last academic year. The Administration response assuaged many of GEO’s concerns, though a full analysis of the data is not yet complete. Second, the Administration presented a counter-proposal on wages. The Administration claimed that the counter was meant to formalize the interim agreement on wages reached last week. However, the GEO felt that the Administrations language reserved for the Administration the right to unilaterally determine all salaries and rejected the proposal. The GEO’s rejection of the proposal does not have any effect on the interim agreement on wages.
Distribution of Information, Union Rights, and Pay Dates
The GEO and the university are still far from a compromise regarding the distribution of information, union rights, and the interim agreement on pay dates. The Administration rejected the GEO’s compromise proposal on distribution of information, and in a feeble attempt at humor, Administration negotiator Peg Rawles offered to supply the GEO with a phone book. With regard to union rights and the pay date issue, the Administration made clear their unwillingness to make any written proposals on the issues.
Employee Expenses
The GEO’s expenses article is meant to insure that grad employees be compensated for any costs associated with their employment. The initial GEO proposal included expenses related to travel, immunizations, certifications, work supplies, lab equipment, library fines, commuting, parking, and fees charged to international employees. The Administration counter contained language related to travel expenses and lab equipment. The Administration has already agreed elsewhere to cover the cost of work supplies. During the caucus, the bargaining team decided to accept the Administration language regarding lab equipment and to weaken the GEO language regarding travel expenses. It was also decided to limit the GEO’s concern with parking to those grad employees who are required to drive as part of their work duties. The GEO team also withdrew its demands related to library fines and commuting.
Employee Evaluations
Although no new proposals were exchanged regarding evaluation, there was a productive discussion between the sides. Indications from the Administration were that they took the GEO concerns seriously. A new Administration counter on evaluation is expected at the next bargaining session.
Employee Rights
The sides reached a tentative agreement on the employee rights article. At the opening of the session the GEO presented a counter with stronger language in the section meant to protect international students who experience delays receiving a social security number. The Administration accepted the language, resolving the final area of disagreement.
Training & Personnel Files
Two other articles, training and personnel files, were also on the table for Wednesdays session. Discussion is just beginning on those topics, so as yet there is little to report.