Our first session open to the community highlighted many of the persistent issues that have plagued the bargaining processes. As usual, we came with substantive proposals intended to move bargaining forward. The University, in what is becoming an unfortunate pattern, responded by listing every proposal we haven’t countered on, most of which are of little to no concern to our members (e.g. punctuation changes in the preamble of our contract, an article pertaining to our right to use bulletin boards) followed by counter proposals on low priority articles that pair minor movement with poison-pills. For example, the University made minor movement towards the Union’s position on meeting space while simultaneously attempting to exclude the meeting space article from grievability, which would leave us with nothing but unenforceable promises.
We opened the session by offering a compromise deal: in exchange for an $11,000/year cut to our proposed Union Leave pool, we asked that the University 1) stop attacking our capacity to organize under the pretense of spurious FERPA concerns that have never once been raised by students and 2) stop attacking our right to third party arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination. We also delivered a letter bringing our position on anti-Bullying closer to the University’s position by accepting their policy language on the issue and asking only that this language be contractualized and backed up by the same enforcement procedures we rely on for all other contractual disputes. Following this, we spent most of the session in futile attempts to get straight answers from the University about their vague invocations of legal compliance issues related to FERPA and Title IX. No clarity was attained.
The University concluded with a push for more frequent and longer bargaining sessions. We would love to wrap up this process as soon as possible, but the University has yet to demonstrate that we can trust that they will use bargaining time productively. We are tired of discussing trivialities, our members’ real and pressing needs can’t wait.