Early GTFF rally, from the GTFF Facebook page

The first higher education strike in Oregon has ended. This morning the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF) and the University of Oregon reached a tentative agreement. The GTFF posted some details on Facebook. The agreement does not go as far as the grad students would like. The main issue was providing paid sick leave for employees who do so much work for the university, but it does represent a step forward.

Graduate students handle about 1/3 of the grading at the U.O. While the GTFF was on strike, University administrators were scrambling to fill their assignments, even proclaiming that THEY would handle grading, overstepping the faculty entirely. And ignoring their own lack of expertise in the specific field being graded. A recipe for mayhem, and shoddy instruction, had it continued.

This lack of grading led to this great post that details how the vaunted Oregon Ducks football team risked not being about to participate in the national college football playoff in the Rose Bowl on January 1 due to a lack of timely grading, rending players academically ineligible to play. Would a prolonged strike lead to NCAA scrambling to adjust/waive its own rules? Probably. It would have been amusing to see the NCAA paying attention to ANY of its own rules for once.

Higher education has been exploiting graduate student labor, and part-time faculty labor, and, heck, been outright miserly with providing tenured positions for many decades. It will be interesting to watch how graduate teachers, now with a greater sense of identity and collective power, build on that success in years to come.