In it Together: SEIU members at UO support Graduate Teaching Fellows

Graduate Teaching Fellows rally on the UO campus, holding signs that say "Ready to strike"

SEIU Local 085 members at University of Oregon value and support our graduate employees

WE STAND TOGETHER with the University Senate, the University of Oregon Faculty United Academics (UA), the Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network (ESSN), and the Student Labor Action Project (S.L.A.P.), a student organization fighting for social and economic justice, in support of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) fight for an equitable contract that honors and values their work, and provides medical and parental leave.

For the past several years we have faced tough bargaining for continued health care benefits and fair wages. Our workload has increased, and they tried to take away our overtime and layoff rights.

The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) has voted to authorize a strike. Our GTFs do not want to strike. Similar to us, they would rather agree to an equitable contract that meets the needs of graduate employees. Our GTFs are paid minimum wages that fall more than $200 below what the University of Oregon’s own Financial Aid Office estimates it costs to live as a graduate student, and they have no form of paid leave from work if they are ill, injured, or have recently had children.

We know how important health care benefits are – the value of medical and parental leave – for our individual well being, and what it means for our families. While we deal with the University Shared Services Enterprise (USSE), the GTFF deals directly with the University of Oregon. In either case, the tactics are the same: they claim there is not enough money while paying $300 an hour for a lawyer to sit at the table. Now they are delaying and refusing to consider fair proposals. Our three Unions, along with the Teamsters and the UO PD Union (also part of SEIU), represent approximately 5000 employees who make this University the place of quality education  and learning that our students deserve.

You can show your support!

SEIU Local 085, representing Classified Staff, will be coordinating with the GTFF to join together in action to support a fair contract for the graduate employees. Keep watching your email and Union bulletin boards for notice of these actions. Bring your rain gear and plan to join us.

Our Union contract prevents us from engaging in “any strike, or walkout or commit any other acts of work stoppage during the term of this Agreement“. What we do on our own time, however, is ours. You are encouraged to take actions in support of GTFF members such as walking picket lines or passing out flyers before or after your regular work shift, during your lunch or break time. You must make sure, however, not to do anything that can be viewed as withholding your labor or refusing to go to work. If you wish, you may take vacation or comp time to come out and lend your support to our fellow unionists.

The University’s Academic Freedom Policy encourages open and free discussion of a wide variety of issues. Really, nothing is off the table, including discussions of the issues around why the GTFF is on strike. Share your thoughts and reasons for supporting them with co-workers, supervisors and other interested parties. Also, hang some GTFF strike signs in your work space. There is a great In It Together sign with the logos of GTFF, SEIU and UA available on our web site:

In the event that you are asked to perform the work normally done by a GTF, evaluate whether such duties are in your position description. If not, this likely constitutes work out of class. Our contract does not expressly address this issue, so it would be best to not refuse, though you could mention that you will do so under protest. If you feel that you are not qualified for these duties, be sure to bring this up to your supervisor.  All communications, including the original instruction, should ideally be in writing. We also want you to contact a Union Steward should you be placed in this position. Please call the Steward Hotline at 541-346-0321 to report a request to do the work normally performed by a GTF.


Join UO faculty, staff, and students and tellUniversity administration that GTFs deserve a fair and equitable contract.

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