Graduate Student Union President Michelle Campbell said all bargaining issues are now on the table.
Campbell said the GSU introduced language on health care in bargaining on Monday. The GSU began bargaining Feb. 15 on the smaller issues of its platform, and she said, by April 15, the university had responded to most of the proposals.
Campbell said the GSU and the university have reached agreements on the arbitrator process and necessary materials. She said the issue of necessary materials assures that if graduate assistants are expected to meet with students in private and if space is available, GAs have a right to have access to that space.
“We do have 24 issues out on the table, and we only have two issues signed as far as a tentative agreement,” she said. “We are 1/12 of the way there.”
Campbell said most of the issues have been brought to the table by the GSU. She said the university has brought a couple of issues to the table, mostly concerning certain language in the contract. She said one of the main issues for the university is putting language into the GSU contract to help solidify the right-to-work law.
“From the GSU’s point of view, many of those requests are not things that we find appropriate to put in our contract, and we will continue to seek as much autonomy and as many rights for our employees at CMU as we are able to fight for,” she said.
The union will be negotiating as it sees new leadership take power. Erin Lewis will succeed Campbell as president on May 1, while Benjamin Fortin will take over as vice president and Olaseni Fadipe will become the GSU’s new treasurer.
Health insurance is one of the larger issues of the GSU platform. The GSU does not have health insurance under its current contract. The 2010-13 bargaining agreement states that CMU will provide a wellness allowance of $175 during the academic year 2012-13.
As previously reported by CM Life, the GSU platform states on the issue of healthcare: “We believe that it is imperative to have reasonable employer-sponsored health insurance to guard against catastrophic health emergencies that could endanger a graduate assistant’s educational endeavors. We believe graduate assistants should have health care coverage beyond the wellness allowance, and we support health care coverage that extends to spouses, civil partners and children.”
One of the issues the GSU and university keep going back and forth over is leave time, Campbell said. She said the GSU’s stance on leave time is that the expectation for women to be back teaching in a classroom one week after giving birth is “ridiculous.”
“One of the things that we’re making sure is that people with conditions that require long-term leave time have that protection in our contract,” she said.
CMU’s GSU was recognized in 2009, and the three-year contract from 2010-13 expires this summer. Campbell said she can’t comment on whether the GSU expects to reach an agreement before the contract expires, but she said the university has expressed hope at a tentative agreement by the end of May.