Oregon State University’s proposals to graduate workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic should trouble those concerned with worker rights. After 8 months of negotiation with the Coalition of Graduate Employees, OSU has proposed cutting the graduate worker cost-of-living adjustment from 2% to 0%, increasing the risk that an already vulnerable, underpaid demographic of university employees will lose housing, face difficulty buying groceries, or be unable to cover essential bills in the midst of a pandemic. This stress is even more acutely felt by graduate workers with children, a group routinely overlooked by the administration. These are all issues that have been raised countless times in testimonies from graduate workers during the past months of bargaining. The current COLA is already insufficient to keep up with the increasing cost-of-living in Corvallis, and in addition to hurting current workers, any cuts will put future graduate workers at a more pronounced disadvantage. Graduate workers contribute an enormous amount of work to keeping OSU running and thriving -- at a great value to the university. It is long since time OSU acted, and not just spoke, as though it recognized this.
OSU graduate student in the Department of Statistics