March 21 Bargaining Update

In this update:

  • GRU offers new proposal to reduce misinformation about our contract and require PI mentorship training.

  • GRU and OHSU reach agreement on language to protect GRs working offsite.

  • Discussions continue on overpayment/underpayment problems, timelines extended for paying back large one-time overpayments.

  • OHSU responds to GRU DEI proposals.

  • OHSU claims it is not feasible to codify remote work.

On March 21, our GRU bargaining team met in person with OHSU's team for the first time. One of the most important issues discussed was the idea of a Contract Education and Misinformation Article, proposed by the union to address misinformation issues including misinterpretation of the contract, and to give GRU a seat at the table in discussing how to address such issues. This proposal was developed in part in response to long-standing issues of misinformation in BME regarding the ability of GRs to take internships. Our proposal would make it a violation of the contract to consistently and repeatedly provide misinformation to GRs about the contract, and would also require PIs to participate in a training about the contract and best practices for mentorship. We await a response from OHSU on this important topic. Many of our members attended to show their support for this proposal–we filled the room nearly to capacity! Thanks to all who came out to sit in as silent observers.

OHSU provided counter proposals on Article 2 (recognition), Article 19 and our proposed DEI Appendix (discrimination and harassment), and Article 8.8/8.9/8.10 (overpayments and underpayments).

Discussion of Article 2 centered around GRs who are performing work at another institution while still receiving a stipend from OHSU. After some discussion we are pleased to say that we have reached a tentative agreement for Article 2 that clarifies that OHSU remains responsible for ensuring that our contract is upheld for GRs working off-site for any topics OHSU has control over (such as wages and benefits).

Regarding article 8.8 and 8.9, we had previously asked that the union should be notified when a GR is over or underpaid. OHSU feels restricted by FERPA to share any information with the Union regarding students who experience over/underpayment, but did agree to our proposal to extend the timelines for paying back large, one-time overpayments. We offered a counter proposal that would require any GR who is overpaid to be notified of their right to union assistance.

Regarding article 19 and the DEI Appendix we proposed several weeks ago, OHSU proposed clarifications to the process for graduate researchers who need to file complaints regarding discrimination or harassment, or need accommodations. The changes include clarifying which offices to contact for specific issues, adding a route for informal resolution of problems, and outlining available processes under OHSU policies. OHSU feels that the current policies of OHSU are enough, and that the DEI appendix we proposed should only be used as guidelines, not as policies on their own. Given the ongoing work of the Covington Oversight Committee on these topics, we felt it was important to consult with GRU’s Covington Committee representative before offering a counter on this topic.

OHSU also responded to the proposed Article brought forth by our union regarding remote work. OHSU does not see a possibility to contractually protect remote work, as all their accreditations are for in person teaching and not online/remote. They claim they would be in violation of their accreditation status if they codify remote work for students. They expressed their intent to get back to the “status quo” from before the pandemic, with PIs and students handling remote work on a case by case basis. Our team requested further information on this topic so we can consider our options in terms of a response.

All together, this was a productive session, and we were very grateful to all those who attended as observers to show their support!

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In solidarity,

Your GRU Bargaining Team

Raphael Kirchgäßner, Adrian Baris, JD Russo, and Austin Wright