My name is Bryan, and I’m a third-year PhD student in the English department. I’m also a member of the GSWOC-UAW bargaining team, and I’m reaching out today with an update on three new Tentative Agreements (TAs), including a historic win on paid time off (PTO) and an excellent Reasonable Accommodations article. To follow the full back-and-forth of yesterday’s negotiations, you can use the bargaining tracker and the bargaining portal. The next bargaining session will be held on July 27th (RSVP here).

Yesterday, GSWs won industry-leading paid time off (PTO) as part of our TA on holidays. Through ensuring that GSWs are entitled to at least the holidays included in the academic calendar (including the three-week winter recess), and guaranteeing flexibility in using this time off at other times during the academic year, this article guarantees more than six weeks of annual PTO  not including other forms of leave, such as sick, bereavement, or parental leave, which are still being negotiated.

GSWs also won a great TA on Reasonable Accommodations, which will provide new protections to GSWs and ensure our accommodations/access needs are met. Historically, many GSWs have had to navigate a bureaucratic logjam, bouncing between OSAS and HR. This TA makes progress toward a more streamlined, accountable, worker-centered interactive process, and it empowers GSWs to include a union rep throughout the process while we advocate for ourselves.

USC administration has, so far, shown some willingness to negotiate in good faith — the direct result of the power we GSWs have built and demonstrated. Winning big on compensation, union rights, international GSW rights, and protections from workplace abuse will only be possible if we continue to build power by organizing our departments, labs, and cohorts, and showing up in large numbers to actions (like last month’s bargaining session). With mass participation across USC, we can continue to make progress at the bargaining table and win a great first contract.

In solidarity, 
Bryan Byrdlong, English