4/17/19 - We Earned our Income – Give us W-2s!

Hello fellow scientists!

Right now your bargaining team is doing everything humanly possible to make sure that this was the last time you’ll ever have to file taxes from a 1099 (until you start your own business of course). If you’re like me, you probably followed this handy three step procedure for filing:

          1. Enter your tax forms into TurboTax like a good law-abiding citizen

          2. Observe the results, panic, and slam your laptop shut

          3. Give up and never try again

Switching from payment through 1099s to W-2s is among the top issues for the union as we put together the contract. Your bargaining team will be discussing this with Management at the next bargaining session, which will be this Thursday, April 18th, 9:00-12:00 in Sam Jackson 4243C.


Contract – An official agreement between employers and employees that is legally binding

Clause – One section of a contract, also called an article

Proposals – Rather than passing a whole contract back and forth between the bargaining teams, negotiations happen one clause at a time. In general, the Union bargaining team writes a potential clause or ‘proposal’ and the Management team responds with a counter-proposal. After negotiating back and forth as much as is necessary to find language that is acceptable to both sides, the proposal becomes a tentative agreement.

Tentative Agreement – Not as tentative as the name implies, a tentative agreement can’t be opened back up for negotiation once it is reached (unless both sides agree there is a good reason). Tentative agreements become clauses in the tentative contract.

Ratification – When all of the tentative agreements have been put together into a tentative contract, the union members will vote on whether or not to make it legally binding. This process is called ratification.



When we last left our heroes, they had submitted proposals on Grievances, Arbitration, Union Recognition, Union Rights, a Request for Information, and Ground Rules for bargaining. Management responded by saying ‘ok cool, we will read these when we get back from our spring break vacations.’ At the April 4th session, the union proposed several new articles:

Vacation – Time off that is planned in advance

Sick Leave – Time off that is not planned in advance

Holidays – Days off you get without using your vacation

Inclement Weather – When you should not enter your workspace

Union Use of Facilities – Not about bathrooms, this means the union is allowed to communicate with its members using OHSU bulletin boards, and can schedule meetings in OHSU spaces without paying fees

Successor Clause – If the employer gets sold, merged with another employer, or rebranded in some way, you still get representation by the union

Savings Clause – If part of the contract becomes illegal or otherwise invalid while it’s in effect, management and the union will go back into bargaining only to resolve the issue rather than opening the whole contract up for re-negotiation. Basically, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.


Management provided a combined counter-proposal to the Grievance and Arbitration articles that looked completely different from the ones proposed by the union. The ball is now back in the union team’s court to respond.

No other counter-proposals were offered, but the management team reiterated their stance that they are uncomfortable with any proposal that might cross the line between employment and academics. The union team reiterated their response: what line is that exactly? Management also reminded everyone that there could be ‘tax implications’ if changes are made to benefits.

The management team suggested broadening the scope of the Inclement Weather proposal to include circumstances that would prevent safe entry to a workspace other than weather, i.e. a chemical spill, and changing the article name to Modified Operations. The union team agreed with that suggestion.


The management team accepted the Savings Clause without providing a counter-proposal, and a tentative agreement on this article will be signed at the next bargaining session.


Graduate researchers at OHSU overwhelmingly support a switch from payment by 1099-Misc forms to W-2s. But why does this matter? It’s just a different form, right?


A W-2 tax form is your standard issue report of wages. A 1099-Misc is used for a couple of different purposes, both of which are at best a stretch to apply to our situation:

  1. “Hobby Money” also called “un-earned income,” which is intended for things like gambling and lottery winnings. In addition to being unnecessarily mean, making us report to the IRS that we didn’t earn our income makes us ineligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, which the vast majority of us would otherwise qualify for.
  2. Self-Employment/Independent Contractors. Online tax platforms like TurboTax and H&R Block will likely classify your stipend this way by default, which is responsible for why they spit out an enormous number for how much you owe. This is because if you were self-employed, you would be responsible for making both the employer-side and employee-side contributions to social security and medicare (FICA).

Either way, you are currently forced to pay more taxes than you should.


Program: NGP 4th Year     Lab: Von Gersdorff     Undergrad: Humboldt State University, Post-Bac at UC Davis     Favorite Animal: French Bulldog

Marc is a fourth year NGP student in Henrique von Gersdorff’s lab, where he studies neuromodulation of the retina. In Marc’s office, dimly lit with ominous red light, he uses patch clamp electrophysiology techniques to measure the kinetics of vesicular release from specialized retinal neurons like bipolar cells and amacrine cells. When these cells are filled with a second messenger like cAMP, fusion of vesicles to the cell membrane increases its overall surface area, and this increase can be measured by a proportional increase in capacitance. His work contributes to how we understand the molecular-level differences between night vision and day vision.

Marc was among the first graduate researchers to push for unionization. He believes that graduate researchers and other young scientists are the future of the labor force, and that their contributions to science and society are significantly undervalued. Marc feels that poor working conditions for graduate researchers will never change unless we change our mindset about our own value. He is also involved with the Alliance for Visible Diversity in Science (AVDS).

That’s all for now! As always, you can learn more about what’s happening with the union by finding us on SlackFacebookTwitterInstagram, and our Website. The best way to make your voice heard is to come to a Contract Action Team meeting, held every Monday from 5:00-6:00 in BRB-381. Hope to see you there!

Science and Solidarity,

-       Graduate Researchers United