1/14/2020 Boycott Recruitment

Hello fellow scientists!

Mediation between GRU and OHSU Management is ongoing. As a reminder, this is a new stage of contract bargaining in which a mediator from the Oregon Employment Relations Board facilitates bargaining. There have been two mediation sessions and you can learn about how that process is going below. We won’t bury the lead, mediation is not going particularly well.

Wait what happened at the first mediation session again?

In our first mediation session on November 27th, Graduate Researchers United (GRU) proposed three packages to the management bargaining team. Broadly, these three packages covered conflict resolutionwages and benefits, and time off. At that session, management only responded to first package, regarding conflict resolution.

Prior to the second mediation session, Management responded to the wages and benefits package with a counter that was unchanged from their previous counter. This offer is also scarcely better than the current conditions. Stipends would remain unchanged for the vast majority of the GRU membership. For graduate researchers (GRs) in the School of Nursing, their stipend level would remain lower than the Portland minimum wage.

Oh boy, what about the second mediation session?

For a little bit, things started to look up. At the January 7th mediation session, GRU and Management agreed on a package of articles concerning, nondiscrimination, the conditions of our employment at OHSU and the process by which GRs can be disciplined or removed from the program doubling the number of articles agreed to. Your bargaining team is excited about the language in these articles; they represent a step forward for protecting GRs at OHSU. However, the excitement over this victory was short-lived...

A month ago your bargaining team and management reached out to the NIH to understand if there would be any repercussions for providing GRs with W-2 tax forms. Management claimed that providing W-2s to GRs would cause the NIH to revoke its grants. GRU used their critical reading skills and realized this was a bunch of baloney. But since people got understandably concerned when Management told them that providing GRs with W-2s would make all the money to go away we decided to ask the folks in charge (that’s the NIH).

This week the NIH responded saying that grants would not be jeopardized by providing GRs with W-2s. They went even further and said that they could not find a single instance of a grant being revoked or reduced due to the tax form provided to the researcher.

During the January 7th session, Management provided GRU with a proposal about what conditions would need to be met to provide GRs with W-2 tax forms. Once the W-2 language was provided to us (3 hours late), it became clear that the issuing of W-2s was packaged with management’s last economic counter. In fact, it included a worse health insurance option than one offered prior to mediation. This represents the third time that the management bargaining team has countered with a completely unchanged, or worse, economic counter since the start of bargaining. It means that Management is trying to force our hand by offering W-2s only if we accept an unlivable wage and unaffordable healthcare.

Management even went so far as to imply that the costs for reporting GR stipends on W-2s would be so expensive that there would not be any funds left over to offer 300 graduate researchers a fair wage. This seems unlikely for an institution that made a record $175 million in profits last year.

So what are we doing to help OHSU realize they can in fact provide W-2’s and an acceptable standard of living?

Your bargaining team is calling for a complete boycott of all recruitment duties until there is a signed TA guaranteeing us fair wages, affordable healthcare, and W-2s.

This means that we are asking GRs to not attend recruitment events, act as student hosts, or provide transportation for recruitment. Instead take the day to work on your science! Or meet with prospective students to let them know why you have decided to take this action. If you’re feeling particularly rebellious, get on Twitter or Facebook or Twitch or whatever the kids are using and let prospective students know why your smiling face won’t be showing them around OHSU this year.

We realize this is a big action that will have a substantial impact on our graduate programs. However, we feel that we cannot in good faith advocate for an institution that has continually demonstrated a lack of support for GRs. If OHSU would like GRs to advocate for them they need to demonstrate their commitment to us by providing a fair economic package. In addition, we need our program directors and department heads to start putting pressure on management to reach a consensus.

If they do that, then they’ll find that GRU will happily tell prospective students that OHSU is a place where the stipend is livable, the healthcare is affordable, and benefits like parental leave are codified. There will be GRU reps walking through labs and emailing you in the coming days to chat about this action. You are also free to email [email protected] with any questions.

What do I tell my PI?

GRU is sending out a faculty letter today that provides an extensive overview of the bargaining process and an explanation of the issues. That letter is also posted on our website https://www.gradresearchersunited.org/ This letter includes an explanation of why GRU is calling for a boycott of recruitment events. If your PI or Mentor would like you to participate in recruitment 1) explain that this collective action is entirely dependent on whether OHSU management is willing to come to the table to bargain a fair economics package 2) let them know that they can contact Dr. Allison Fryer to express their concerns.

Have your voice heard

Do you have opinions? Do you like food? Do you want your voice heard? Come to Contract Action Team (CAT) meetings! BRB 581 at 5pm on Monday. Note the room change, we’ve moved up two floors. See you there!

Science and Solidarity

  • Graduate Researchers United