4/24/19 - Dear Management, Bargaining Starts at 9:00

Hello Fellow Scientists!

Your bargaining team delivered a fresh batch of proposals to Management at the bargaining session last Thursday. They’ll be coming back to the table tomorrow, April 25 from 9:00-2:00 in School of Nursing room 122. If you’d like to stop by to show your support or view some bureaucrats in pastel button-downs, reply to this email and let me know.

What Does the Bargaining Team Actually Bargain About?

Bargaining Subjects – The bargaining process covers everything that goes into the contract, but there are some rules about what can and cannot be discussed.

  • Mandatory Subjects – Things that must be discussed include wages, benefits, grievances, strike/lockout policies, union security, and management rights.
  • Illegal Subjects – Essentially, you can’t write contract language that goes against existing state or federal law. So no topless Tuesdays if you work in a BSL-4 lab.
  • Permissive Subjects – Literally anything that is not defined as one of the other two subject types. We could write a proposal asking for Danny Jacobs to personally make a strawberry milkshake for every graduate researcher at OHSU on a biweekly basis. Whether the bargaining team will listen to my great ideas is a different story.

So What Happened on April 18th?

Well for one thing, Management showed up late.


The Union presented 6 new proposals, bringing the total to 18.

  • Layoff/Loss of Funding – OHSU will provide graduate researchers with their stipend for up to six months if their PI loses funding
  • Drug Testing – Here’s the whole proposal: GRs will not be required to submit to drug or alcohol testing for any reason at any time except as required by applicable federal or state law.
  • Strikes and Lockouts – Authorized strikes can only occur during bargaining and not while the contract is in effect, graduate researchers will not be prevented from working by Management
  • Past Practice – Management is prohibited from taking away existing benefits to graduate researchers
  • Dues Checkoff – The Union will collect dues from its members
  • Tuition and Fees – OHSU will cover tuition and fees for all graduate researchers


First, to defend the use of 1099 forms, they made a convoluted rationalization for why the money given to us in stipends, research assistantstips, and teaching assistantships is not considered wages despite being money exchanged for services. Not sure that would hold up well with the IRS (or common sense frankly, I wonder what their real justiFICAtion is). Management was not very happy with limiting the administration’s ability to drug test, take away benefits, and charge fees and tuition.  They are close to agreeing with the Strikes and Lockoutsarticle but will be providing a counter-proposal with minor changes.  They also provided counter-proposals for Union Recognition and Union Use of Facilities, bringing their total to 3. There were no new Tentative Agreements.

On the Soapbox – Nurses Writing Laws?

If you have friends or family members who are nurses, you have probably been hearing about a bill circulating in the Washington state legislature called SHB-1155, which requires medical facilities to give regular breaks to nurses during their shifts. This prompted one Washington lawmaker to make some ignorant comments implying that nurses spend most of their shifts playing cards (I won’t mention party affiliation but it’s the one you’re thinking of). You can read more about SHB-1155 here or take a look at this in-depth analysis.

This discussion got me wondering how the nurses in our union spend their time between rounds of blackjack. It turns out, they are involved in writing some legislation of their own. Here’s a recent Oregon bill written by students and faculty in the OHSU School of Nursing:

  • SB698 – Requires that prescription bottles are labeled in a language that the patient can understand (which is apparently only a law in two states!?!?)

And here are a few bills with legislative testimony from our nurses:

  • HB3031 – Establishes a system for people to receive wages while on family and medical leave
  • SB1035 – Provides emergency support for people with family caregivers
  • SB770 – Establishes a commission to set up plans for a single-payer healthcare system in Oregon

Why should nurses be involved in legislation at all? I’ll let one of our union members break it down for you:

“From the very inception of the field, nursing has set itself apart from other health professions in its commitment to advocacy. There is a reason why nursing is consistently the most trusted profession in the US – we are the people to whom you entrust your darkest secrets, your most intimate moments, and your greatest hurts. We are trained and self-selected to see systems from the inside out, from the perspectives of those with the greatest needs in our society. Nurses are responsible for the greatest leaps in public policy our country has seen in the last century, from the implementation of widespread vaccination, to the expansion of choice-focused reproductive health, to the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. Nurses should be writing legislation.”
-Robin Tarter, RN, GRU member, and Secretary for Nurses for Single Payer

Better Know a Bargainer – Lead Negotiator Sam Papadakis

Program – NGP 4th Yr     Lab – Damien Fair     Undergrad – Oberlin College     Favorite Animal – Jaguar

Sam is a 4th year graduate researcher in the School of Medicine Neuroscience Graduate Program working in Damien Fair’s research group. In her research on sensory processing disorders, she uses Resting State Functional Connectivity MRI to map out the networks and functional connections between different parts of the brain. Sam uses MRI data from human subjects and animal models as well as nonhuman primate immunofluorescence experiments to evaluate potential aberrant connections between the sensory cortices and the amygdala.

Sam ran for office in the School of Medicine GSO because she cares about improving graduate student life and wanted to be actively involved in the community. She was first elected GSO Treasurer, and now serves as the incumbent GSO President. In her capacity in the GSO, Sam has participated in numerous discussions with OHSU management at all administrative levels. Time after time, these discussions would lead to no real changes because the administration had no contractual requirement to respond to any presented demands. Because of her growing frustration with these roadblocks, Sam was among the first graduate researchers to get involved with the union effort. She became a member of the bargaining team because of her experience representing student needs to OHSU administration. Within the bargaining team, Sam was unanimously chosen to be the lead negotiator. Management, if you’re reading this, I’ll repeat that again for you: SAM is our lead negotiator, please stop only looking at and talking to Dennis!

That’s all for now! You can learn more about Graduate Researchers United by visiting our Website or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. To get involved with contract writing and union organizing, join us virtually on Slack or in person at a Contract Action Team meeting, held every Monday from 5:00-6:00 in BRB 381.

Science and Solidarity,

-       Graduate Researchers United