UE Local 896 COGS Calls on Regents to Ratify Agreement
Iowa City – February 13, 2017 – Members of UE Local 896-COGS (Campaign to Organize Graduate Students), the union representing graduate teaching and research assistants at the University of Iowa, have voted overwhelmingly to accept the Iowa Board of Regents last proposal of December 5, 2016 and ratify a collective bargaining agreement for July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019.
The Agreement includes a two percent (2%) total package increase and status quo on all other items in the COGS contract. As part of the package, graduate employees will maintain health insurance with a seven percent (7%) projected increase in health care costs, a tuition and fees scholarship with a projected two percent (2%) increase, and a one point four percent (1.4%) salary increase.
This offer was made in good faith on December 5, and their chief negotiator had complete authority to make this offer. We call upon the Board of Regents to ratify this Agreement before the collective bargaining law changes. Doing so will protect graduate education and graduate educators at the University of Iowa. This agreement provides a guarantee of no cuts to graduate workers’ benefits for the next two years.
For any contract negotiated after the likely passage of SF 213 in the Iowa Legislature later this week, wages will be the only mandatory topic of bargaining. Negotiations over supplemental pay (tuition and fees scholarships) and health insurance will be prohibited. SF 213 is the bill gutting all meaningful collective bargaining for public employees in the state of Iowa.
UE Local 896 COGS President, Landon Elkind stated, “The members have overwhelmingly voted to ratify an agreement that keeps our insurance and tuition coverage intact, along with our other benefits. We have taken a smaller wage increase to secure what many of our members want: surety that NO CUTS to graduate workers benefits and wages will occur.
This is a chance for members of the Iowa Board of Regents to stand up and defend the people that work for them. Those regents that are up for reconfirmation will, by their decision, indicate the direction the board will take should they remain in office.
As president of COGS, I urge the regents to ratify the agreement before Iowa’s collective bargaining law changes: graduate workers are calling on you to support them and their well-being by ratifying your own offer.”