University of Oregon reaches deal with graduate employees, avoiding strike

By Rebecca Hansen-White (KLCC)
Jan. 17, 2024 12:57 a.m.

The union that represents teaching and research assistants reached a tentative deal with the University of Oregon Monday afternoon, narrowly avoiding a strike that was scheduled to begin Wednesday.

The University of Oregon and its graduate workers union has struck a deal, avoiding an impending strike.

The University of Oregon and its graduate workers union has struck a deal, avoiding an impending strike.

Elizabeth Gabriel / KLCC / AP


The proposed contract raises the pay floor for all graduate employees to around $35.50 an hour.

Rosa Inocencio Smith, a member of the union bargaining team, said workers have not been willing to accept a contract that did not meet the rising cost of inflation.


“We’re really excited to talk more with our members about this,” she said, “it’s not over til they ratify, but initial reactions have been really positive.”

The deal also increased the definition of discrimination to include refusal to use preferred pronouns, improved health insurance coverage, provided more support to international graduate employees and employees who are also caregivers.

Inocenscio Smith said the union, the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, is hoping to hold a vote on the proposed contract in the next two weeks.

In October, 97% of the union’s membership voted to go on strike if they could not reach a deal. In early January, leadership declared Jan. 17 as the planned strike date. A flurry of final conversations Monday, however, led to a tentative contract.

If the graduate teaching and research assistants had gone on strike, it would have been only the second time in the union’s history, according to data provided by the Oregon Employment Relations Board. The last strike was in 2014.

In a statement to KLCC, the U of O said it was pleased to reach a deal that invests in research and academics, and keeps the university’s graduate programs competitive.

“University administration is incredibly grateful to the members of the university’s and GTFF bargaining teams for their many hours of work to reach a tentative agreement,” the university statement said. “GEs are valued members of the campus community who play key roles in teaching and research.”