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Graduate Assistants at U. of Oregon Walk Out

Graduate teaching assistants at the University of Oregon went on strike on Tuesday after their union and the administration failed to come to an agreement on a new contract, The Register-Guard reports. The roughly 1,500 graduate students are walking off the job as the university enters the last two weeks of the semester, when final examinations are administered and final grades are due.

In a last-ditch effort at an agreement on Monday, representatives of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation and the university couldn’t come to terms on medical and parental benefits. Oregon offered to create a $150,000 hardship fund that the teaching assistants could tap in cases of medical emergency or the birth of a child. But union leaders said the administration would not put the terms of the proposed fund in the new contract.

After the union threatened to strike, the university sent out a memorandum suggesting that work normally done by graduate assistants could be handled by adjunct professors, retired faculty members, or nonunionized graduate students.

The University Senate, which is made up of students, faculty and staff members, and administrators, voted to condemn that response last month, saying it ignored the wishes of the faculty and could bring about “the dilution and degradation of teaching standards.”

This is the first time in the union’s 38-year history on the Eugene campus that its members have gone on strike.

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