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UO begins negotiations with graduate employee union

Nathan Wilk
Demonstrators for the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation march on the campus of the University of Oregon.

The University of Oregon began negotiations Friday with a union of its graduate employees. In the morning, union supporters demonstrated on campus.

The university currently pays graduate students to teach courses and do academic research. But union representatives say wages haven’t kept up with rising costs of living in Eugene.

"We are not compensated fairly for that labor in a way that allows us to have a dignified standard of living," said Teresa Caprioglio, treasurer for UO’s Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation, which represents over 1,400 employees. "And those of us who are not privileged enough to come from generational wealth don't have a way to make up that gap."

Caprioglio said the union is seeking a new contract with higher pay and protections against wildfire smoke exposure.

UO representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Nathan Wilk is a freelance reporter and former reporting intern. He began in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon. He is a senior at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.