TLDR; Bargaining Committee (BC) met with WPI admin yesterday; we received several second-round counter-proposals and presented some as well! The University is actively making carve outs in the contract language that would prevent us from protecting GWs from retaliation and harassment. We are pushing back on these issues, but the University insists that current avenues to address harassment are the best way to move forward. We’ll have a hybrid all-member meeting this Wednesday at 5PM in SL402; RSVP here.
**CW/TW: mentions of sexual assault**
You can see all our proposals and progress on our website.
Yesterday (02/22), your BC met with the administration for another bargaining session. We presented counters to admin counter-proposals (click to see proposals): VCAP (re-asserted), Appointment Security, Appointment Notification, Workload, and Workplace and Materials. Additionally, we signed a tentative agreement on our Intellectual Property proposal!
The University bargaining team presented a number of counters, and addressed some Health Insurance concerns ahead of our initial proposal (click to see their language): Grievance and Arbitration, Job Postings, Employment Files, Travel, Union-Management Committee, and Discipline and Dismissal.
We are awaiting counters from admin on three more proposals: Union Access and Rights, Non-Resident and Non-Citizen Graduate Worker Rights and Protections, and Titles and Classifications. We are continuing to iron out further responses to their counters and will aim to win more rights and protections before moving on to economic issues.
Once again, the counters from the University focused much more on reasserting existing policies and procedures as the best way to address the concerns of Graduate Workers. The current systems do NOT work; this is why we voted for a Union. We are asking for BETTER, not the status quo. The University has made it clear that they want to address all cases of harassment and discrimination through existing university policy, including retaliation, themselves. We want a better WPI and that not only includes attracting the best and brightest to our institution, but also ensures that we have a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. It is vital to have access to a neutral, 3rd party arbitrator to hear such cases, and it is unacceptable to just go through existing University policies with no oversight or enforceability. Current University policies prioritize protecting WPI from liability or accountability, which can get in the way of protecting the victims of wrongdoing. In 2016, WPI placed blame on a survivor of sexual assault. The university needs our input for better policies. They cannot be solely responsible for handling sexual harassment and discrimination cases. Putting all the power in the hands of an employer creates an unbalanced power dynamic and is problematic.
Our next meeting with the university will be on March 8th. We will continue to assert the importance of these protections and rights for the mental health and productivity of Graduate Workers, and find common ground in negotiations to get this contract in writing ASAP. We know happy, healthy, supported workers are better workers; shouldn’t the University want us to be better workers?
Our monthly meeting for all union members will be NEXT Wednesday, March 1st at 5PM in SL 402. This is a forum where union members are welcome to come ask questions, bring suggestions, or discuss any other union topics. Please RSVP here (Zoom link will be sent if you indicate you’ll be there online) and email us if you have any additional questions or concerns about bargaining!
Your WPI-GWU Bargaining Committee
Jake Scarponi, Andrew McReynolds, Sabine Hahn, Gabriela Rovi & Abhinav Gandhi