GAU met regularly with university representatives from June to August to negotiate a new contract. As part of negotiations, we argued for better pay and other benefits after discussing strategies to obtain the best possible contract. During bargaining sessions, we presented research on benefits at comparable educational institutions in and out of Florida. We ran quantitative analyses of university offers to determine their impact. We also carefully discussed each offer. In addition, while negotiations were ongoing, we distributed a press release to media organizations about our efforts. As a result, the following story ran on WFSU: http://news.wfsu.org/ .
We are pleased to report that, on Sep. 21 and 22, Graduate Assistants voted unanimously to approve the 2017-18 contract changes.
The university’s initial contract offer included a $13,000 minimum stipend for a 0.5 FTE academic-year appointment (up from $12,000), no percentage pay increase and no increase in the health insurance subsidy. We negotiated a contract with the following:
These changes were the product of multiple bargaining sessions held with university representatives this summer.
1. Stipends (Article 23)
a. A $14,000 minimum stipend for a 0.5 FTE academic-year appointment (an increase from the previous year’s amount of $12,000).
b. A 2% pay raise for every graduate assistant.
2. Health Insurance (Article 16)
a. An increase in the health insurance subsidy covering the rise in premiums. This is an increase of $82/year for domestic Graduate Assistants and $95/year for international Graduate Assistants.
3. Leave (Article 10)
a. 8 weeks of continuous unpaid leave during any 12-month period (an increase from 6 weeks).
4. Consultation with the FSU President (Article 24)
a. Currently UFF-FSU-GAU is entitled to a fall and spring consultation with the university President or his designee. The changed article requires that during at least one of these two meetings, the President must be in attendance.
5. Dependent Coverage
a. Although FSU unilaterally cut dependent coverage for the upcoming academic year, GAU has secured an agreement stating that FSU will seek proposals to add such coverage. According to this Memorandum of Agreement, FSU will issue an invitation to negotiate to vendors regarding dependent care coverage. FSU and GAU will form a committee to review the proposals that will meet within two weeks of the end of the solicitation period. GAU strongly believes FSU should offer dependent coverage to graduate assistants. We will continue to work toward this goal.
6. Pay Structure Issues
a. GAU has secured an agreement stating that FSU and GAU will form a committee to discuss pay structure, appointment length and summer stipend rates for graduate assistants. We hope to make progress on these issues before the next bargaining cycle.
In a typical bargaining cycle, the union opens 4 contract articles during bargaining. However, this spring, the entire 24-article contract will be opened for negotiation. This only happens once every three years. Significant planning and research will be required ahead of bargaining. If you are interested in helping shape negotiations by serving on a bargaining committee, or if you have suggestions, email Chief Negotiator Clancy McGilligan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to get involved in another aspect of GAU, from organizing to outreach, email email@example.com.
The union plans to be active in trying to pass legislation at the state level to reduce graduate assistant fees. Our political action committee will need members to help with these efforts, so please let us know if you are interested. We want to get started as soon as possible.
Thank you to all the GAs who showed up to this year’s bargaining sessions. By attending, you helped show FSU we are invested in our contracts.