United We Bargain, Divided We Beg
Dorian Blue #labor #union
On October 20th, University of Oregon Student Workers (UOSW) and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) held a joint rally outside Johnson Hall to demonstrate their collective power and call for solidarity between undergrad and grad student workers.
For GTFF, the rally marked the latest stage of their bargaining process with UO for a new contract. Their main demands are across-the-board salary increases to address unprecedented cost-of-living increases in Eugene, better resources and support for international students and caregivers, and better discrimination protections. After seven months of continuous bargaining, GTFF and UO administration have reached an impasse.
For UOSW, the rally came just a few days before their union certification voting period came to an end, confirming UO Student Workers as the official representative of over 4,000 undergraduate students working on campus. Their speakers emphasized the importance in not just voting to certify the union but also pledging solidarity with GTFF as they move toward a potential strike.
Multiple members of GTFF leadership spoke, including a member of the bargaining team, the chair for the RAGE (Research Assistant Graduate Employee) Committee, and a representative for international GEs. A UO Student Workers leader and Young Democratic Socialists of America member also spoke, expressing undergraduate solidarity for GTFF and thanking GTFF for all the help and inspiration they have provided to UO Student Workers.
“After the impasse was declared, we have entered a seven day period where the last offers are made by both sides to the Labor Relations Board. Then, we enter a 30 day cooling off period,” said Ben Benanix, a member of the GTFF bargaining team.
After the cooling off period, UO administration can impose the contract whether GTFF likes it or not, but in response, GTFF members can then vote to strike.
Undergraduate students can support GEs by signing GTFF’s Solidarity Pledge, a promise to stand with GTFF if they strike, and not cross their picket lines by taking jobs doing their work. The link is available on their social media and website and simply requires a student’s 95 number and virtual signature.
“We will continue to be visible on campus and show that we are united and are ready to walk out of work,” Benanix said.
GTFF is reaching a pivotal time in their campaigning. Whether a strike becomes necessary or not, The Insurgent, as a primarily undergraduate student publication, will continue to stand firmly in solidarity with them. UO only works because they do and they deserve a living wage.
Photos by Azzi Lescio