At GEO’s most recent GMM, the bargaining team–the group of GEO members who negotiates the contract on our behalf–responded to questions from the crowd and gave a little more context to what bargaining is actually like.

Key Take-Aways – Proposal are In and Come to a Bargaining Session!

As of last week, the bargaining team has officially submitted all of its proposals to the university.

Our bargaining team reported that lots of emotional labor happens at the bargaining table. It can be very draining for them, so they urge GEO members to turn out in person to the bargaining sessions when they can! Members are allowed to work quietly to the side and observe the negotiations first hand as they happen. They also emphasized the importance of personal anecdotes, or personal, first-hand accounts of problems GSIs have experienced with our current contract. The university’s team responds well to this type of information, since it is on a more personal level, as opposed to raw facts and figures.

Again, we encourage you attend sessions at which issues important to you are discussed, so that you have the opportunity to tell your story! Check our newsletters and Facebook page for updates on which topics will be discussed at which bargaining sessions.

How Bargaining Works

The team said that bargaining is held almost every Monday and Wednesday (see the GEO calendar) on the 4th floor of Palmer Commons, in the Great Lakes North Room. There are eight people on the University’s team: three from Academic HR, one representative from LS&A, four faculty members, and Melissa Sortman is their lead negotiator, who is new to the university.

The process involved for each bargaining session is as follows. The day before a session, the GEO team sends its new contract language to the university’s team. When the two sides meet at the bargaining table, the university team can ask the bargaining team questions, and team members can answer.

Within our own bargaining team, the division of labor has changed somewhat, as compared to previous years. We have an ambitious platform with many proposals, so each member adopted one or two articles of our proposed contract to specialize in. Then the team member whose specialty is being discussed will take the lead that day. We also have been inviting members to speak and answer the university’s questions.

In the past, we usually had one lead negotiator who knew the whole platform and negotiated the whole contract, with support from the other team members. For this year, that model seems unsustainable, so the team adopted a more diffuse division of labor.

GMMs are where major decisions on counter-proposals will happen, so be sure you attend these meetings.  Also, caucuses can be called at any time during bargaining sessions, in which the doors are closed and GEO, including the members who are present, can discuss issues internally.

The University’s team just recently sent across some minor counter proposals and expects to see more soon. Please stay tuned for important updates about decisions on which we need members to weigh in!

January Bargaining Update – All Proposals Are In!