Negotiators make unexpected return to bargaining table

Editor's note: This is a breaking news update.

Negotiators for the university and the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation returned to the table unexpectedly this afternoon following a request by the union to resume mediation.

The two sides were back at the table Monday afternoon, Dec. 8, in a renewed effort to bargain toward a final contract. No further information was immediately available.

Interim UO President Scott Coltrane has said he remains committed to finding an equitable solution that meets the needs of both graduate students and the university. But with finals week starting today, he said the university is prepared to conduct exams and enter grades with as little disruption to students as possible.

“There is nothing more important than meeting our academic mission and the needs of our students,” Coltrane said in a statement Friday. “I want to thank each and every one of the thousands of faculty, staff and students for their patience and dedication during this tough time.”

Talks are focused on proposals for medical and parental benefits. The university has proposed a hardship fund to provide financial support to graduate students facing medical problems or the birth or adoption of a child, along with a flexible leave plan to provide time off. The GTFF prefers automatic paid leave.

Coltrane said both sides continue to look for common ground, but he said he believes the university’s offer will better serve the needs of all graduate students. Regardless of people’s positions, he urged the UO community to stay positive.

“Let’s keep pulling together so that our students continue to be minimally impacted by this challenging situation,” Coltrane said. “No one wants to see a strike continue and we will stay in mediation for as long as it takes to find agreement.”

—By Greg Bolt, Public Affairs Communications