By COLIN STAUB
The Graduate Employees Union (GEU) has a new contract with Portland State University covering about 800 teaching assistants, research assistants and administrative assistants.
The union is jointly affiliated with American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Bargaining began in April but bogged down over health coverage. Graduate workers get the same plan the school offers all students: They pay $1,108 per quarter, and it doesn’t cover dental or vision or extend to dependents. That contrasts starkly with what graduate workers receive at University of Oregon. There, members of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation own and administer their plan through a trust. They pay just 5% of their premiums, while the university pays 95%. UO graduate workers pay $111.15 per quarter for a single plan, or up to $317.79 for a family.
GEU proposed health insurance subsidies to workers, but PSU declined. Instead, a task force will explore group health insurance plans to replace the current plan.
Minimum wage for GEU members is currently $18 an hour, and workers got a 1.5% cost-of-living adjustment at the beginning of the current term.