Although the Coalition of Graduate Employees was not going to strike alongside the classified employees union, SEIU, they aimed to show support in other ways, and believe the classified employees deserve the benefits they fought for.
The Coalition of Graduate Employees, American Federation of Teachers 6069 is a student employee union representing graduate teaching assistants and research assistants at OSU. According to the union president, Hazel Daniels, CGE was not going to be able to participate in the Monday, Sept. 30 strike which SEIU members had authorized, then called off after a last-minute contract agreement was made. However, Daniels said CGE was standing in solidarity with SEIU in multiple other ways.
“Per our own contract with OSU, we cannot sanction our members to participate in any strike action SEIU initiates,” Hazel Daniels, president of the CGE, said in an email, during the period of mediation between the SEIU and administration. “That being said, CGE supports SEIU in other ways.”
According to Daniels, the CGE attended rallies, displayed signs of support in their homes and offices, maintained open communication between their unions and helped SEIU educate the OSU and Corvallis communities through social media in support of classified employees.
“We are educating our members about the ongoing situation and encourage them to show solidarity with SEIU in ways that resonate with each individual,” Daniels said via email.
The members of CGE appreciate the efforts that SEIU is doing to reach an agreement for what they believe to be a fair paycheck. CGE believes workers should be treated fairly and with respect.
“The workers who make up SEIU are a valued part of our communities, here at OSU and in cities all over Oregon. We think they are hard workers who deserve the benefits they are bargaining for,” Daniels said in an email. “Workers shouldn't have to decide between paying their bills and feeding their families—yet that is the choice some are forced to make on the wages the universities pay. SEIU's call for ‘RESPECT’ resonates with us, and we support their efforts completely.”
Although SEIU and Oregon’s public universities reached an agreement last Saturday, preventing the strike, the classified employees’ union still must vote to ratify the proposed new contract in October.