GTFF Strike likely: December 2nd (tomorrow)

LCC Faculty Colleagues,

I’m writing regarding the possible (likely) strike by our colleagues in the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation local union (GTFF) at the University of Oregon, possibly starting tomorrow. The LCCEA, and the OEA Community College Council, support the efforts of our GTFF union sisters and brothers in seeking fair wages and paid sick time for GTFs at UO. They have been without a contract since March, and have worked hard to reach an agreement with the University administration, but the administration has been intransigent, preferring to spend their money on attorneys that have prevented any agreement from being reached, rather than trying to negotiate one (e.g. instead of bargaining sick leave rights with GTF representatives, the administration has proposed only a small emergency fund that all employees could apply for help from, a far cry from the rights to be able to stay home with one’s sick child, a right that was recognized by the Eugene City Council this year, but which unfortunately didn’t cover university employees). If no agreement is reached today, I believe a strike will begin in tomorrow morning.

In order to try to make that unnecessary by showing strong public support for GTFs, there is a rally today at 5:00 p.m. at Johnson Hall at the UO campus; I hope many of us can attend and show our support for their action. Speakers will include politicians such as Kitty Piercy and our former LCCEA VP Claire Syrett, representatives of other local unions including the (new) university faculty union (United Academics), Bob Baldwin and myself, and student representatives, among others. A strong showing of community support will be very helpful to encourage the University administration to come back to the table prepared to reach an agreement, as well as to encourage GTFF members if the administration doesn’t heed the call and members have to start walking a picket line tomorrow. For more on the rally and other matters:
http://www.uomatters.com/2014/12/uo-hires-lawyer-to-negotiate-new-contract-with-gtff-union.html

Also, I know I don’t really need to say this, but I hope very much that any LCC faculty members that have been approached by the University or seen ads to work as so-called “replacement workers” (better known in the labor movement as “scabs”), have told the University what they think of taking the work from fellow workers walking a picket line. The University is specifically planning to “Hire LCC instructors or community subject experts” to take the jobs of striking GTFs (see UO strike planning document, #7, top of page 5). The gall that the University administration would even think to look to LCC faculty to work as scabs is, of course, outrageous. I invite all of you who share a similar revulsion to our school and faculty being treated as a source for scabs during a labor strike to respond to this email with your reaction, which I will share with our GTFF brothers and sisters at the rally today (or better yet, in addition to emailing them to me, also attend the rally and we’ll demonstrate our solidarity and our aversion to being seen as a strikebreaking force together!). I know that should we ever strike, we will want and expect such solidarity from GTFs and other faculty at the UO, and we must stand in solidarity today when they are on the picket line. And if anyone has been contacted by UO regarding such “replacement work” (and likely it would have been framed as simply “temporary work,” not “strikebreaking opportunity”) please do let me know so that I can share such information with our GTFF members (anonymously if you wish); and if you have any questions about such things, please don’t hesitate to call me.

Finally, there’s little doubt that we can expect the UO administration to try to pitch the strike as “harming UO Students,” who “will suffer if grades aren’t submitted on time” (grading is one of the key responsibilities of many GTFs). But that is up to the University administration to prevent by reaching an agreement with the GTFF this week. And observe that the GTFF obviously chose this week to begin to strike, rather than waiting until finals week when the effects would be greater, so that the Administration has time to recognize the only solution is to bargain an agreement in good faith before UO students are harmed by the Administration’s intransigence. The well-being of UO students is in the hands of the UO Administration; any effects of a lasting strike cannot be blamed on GTFs who already have worked almost nine months without a contract.

I hope to see many of you at Johnson Hall, UO, at 5:00 p.m. today.

Jim Salt
LCCEA President and proud former GTFF member!

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