Liveblogging the GEO Contract Negotiations

Well here we are in the Koessler Room of the Michigan League. Violet-tinted windows let the late-afternoon, late-winter light into the wood paneled room. There’s a big table across the front of the room. On the far side of the table are a number of well-kempt academic types. On our side are a range of hastily cleaned-up, slightly underfed (vegans? smokers?) studenty looking types.

The rest of the room has chairs, some empty, some occupied with less-well-kempt slightly underfed studenty looking types. The predominant sound is the clicking of laptop keys. The studenty types at the table occasionally ask a question, slowly and carefully. The man in the center of the academic types answers slowly and carefully. There are pauses in between the questions and the answers and the questions.

As each new section of the contract comes up, paper print-outs are passed out throughout the crowd. These copies show the contract proposal as submitted by the union, with the administration’s response superimposed in the form of MS Word-style revision mark-up. That mark-up is mostly in the form of large-scale deletions.

It’s not a particularly exciting event to live-blog. Most of the substantive issues are dealt with very quietly and in small-scale language.

Here’s the gist as I see it:

Your request of pay raises in keeping with cost-of-living increase: No.

Your request for same-sex benefits: meh.

Your request for pay during required training events: No.

Your request for partial tuition waivers for small-fractional GSIs: No.

Your request for tuition waivers for quarter+ fraction GSIs: No.

The key words here are: “current contract language”. As in the old one. AT least we’re not losing ground I guess.

The justification is: we can’t deal with that proposal until we know what the financial impact of those other proposals is. Repeat as necessary.

Best moment so far: one of our guys asks “of the substantive proposals we’ve put forward, can you think of a single one which you not turning down?” Followed by 20 seconds or so of silence. Then an “okay, moving along…”.

Us: “Given that almost everything you’ve given back to us is just “orginial contract language”, I’m a little surprised that it took you until today to give it to us…”

Also good (but again, the good stuff mostly comes from people getting frustrated and saying stuff which probably isn’t particularly productive):

Us: “You’ve framed this as a series of economic “repercussions”, which sounds really bad, we’ve framed it as an investment in people who will bring more money to the school. Do you reject that philosophy?”

Them: “Well, can you ask a yes or no question?”

Us: “It was.”

Them: “With respect to your proposal for professional leave, the language you’ve proposed leaves it open to being as much as a term..”

Us: “Uh, I think you mean pregnancy leave…”

Them: “Oh right sorry.”

Us: “Yeah ‘I have to go to a conference, it lasts 4 months”.

Them: “Well, actually, that could happen under the language you’ve proposed for professional leave too”.

Oh snap.

Us: “yes, so you’ve struck the word (inaudible), because it’s passive and unclear I suppose…”

Other us: “…ask an english major…”

Them: “we’ll check that with our english majors…”

And so on. Scintillating material. Now we’re negotiating the number of copies of the contract to be printed. Vigorously.

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