Protect our well-being: codify our contract as University policy (plus an offer letter checklist)

The arbitrator has given a ruling (link). The award only extends to Article IX (Wages) of our current contract. No other benefits will be covered after June 30, 2017 because of the Regents illegally stalled negotiations until Iowa’s collective bargaining laws changed.

The University denies that they cut graduate employee benefits, or “stole Christmas” as we put it. They claim this despite silently watching the Regents strip our benefits from our legally-binding union contract. They must put it in writing. Piecemeal, unenforceable e-mails are insufficient.

In particular, we demand that our COGS contract be codified into University-wide Policy. We should not be subject to the whims of each department. The University has a compelling interest in avoiding discrepancies among the 103 departments that confer graduate degrees. Such discrepancies would be especially likely to harm us.

The University administration must also continue to meet and confer with UE Local 896-COGS on matters concerning the employment of graduate assistants. We insist that our workplace be one in which we have democratic control over the conditions of our work.

We will continue to fight for workplace democracy and for our benefits. You can protect yourself individually by checking that many critical benefits are included in your offer letter. We have provided a checklist you can use to quickly do this (link). We have also included an offer letter template (link).

We will be sending this to department chairs, directors of graduate study, and university administrators. We demand that the current offer letter template, which guarantees far less, be updated to protect what is guaranteed the current COGS contract.

We will continue to take collective action to protect our welfare. Contact cogs@cogs.org for information or to request a steward visit your department.

We will not accept cuts. We will not be silenced. We will not go back to life before COGS.