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Graduate Students Walk Out at University of Oregon

Rachael McDonald

The 1,500 members of the University of Oregon Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation went on strike Tuesday. This is the first time in the union's 38-year history that its members have walked out.

Graduate Teaching Fellows march the picket lines on a bitterly cold morning on the U of O campus.

The main sticking point in contract negotiation with administration is paid leave. The GTFF wants 2 weeks medical leave and 2 weeks family leave. Joe Henry is president of the GTFF.

Henry: "The University continues to demand that our most vulnerable members go without a modicum of dignity that comes with a basic wage, living wage, and very minimal paid leave. We don't understand what's holding them up."

U of O spokesman Tobin Klinger says the administration has a robust offer on the table that includes flex time and a hardship fund for medical expenses. He says the University won't budge on paid leave because it can't afford to offer it to all its employees.

Klinger: "We want to maintain equity across campus and that benefit is not available to all employees that fit that .5 criteria."

The two sides go back to the bargaining table Thursday. Meanwhile, Klinger says the U of O has contingency plans in place to make sure students are not disrupted during the strike.


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