From the bell tower, Rob Callahan shouted “One, two, three, four” over a loudspeaker to a crowd of 20 people. The crowd responded with, “We won’t take it anymore.”
He continued, “Five, six, seven, eight” and the crowd responded, “Temple must negotiate.”
Callahan organized a TUGSA “Trick or Treat” rally for a better contract, held Wednesday, Oct. 31.
The rally was held in conjunction with Campus Equity Week, which started on Oct. 28 and runs until Nov. 3.
The crowd was composed of TUGSA employees, some wearing navy blue shirts that read “Temple Works Because We Do.” Some shook bottles with change to attract attention from passersby.
One TUGSA member wore a mask with University President David Adamany’s face on it.
“We gave out snack size candy bars to represent our snack size paycheck,” said Callahan. “I think we deserve something more. We deserve something meal-size.”
Part-time employees from the Community College of Philadelphia held signs that read “FF-CCP (Faculty Federation of CCP) Supports TUGSA.”
Graduate and part-time employees from the University of Pennsylvania came to support TUGSA and wore shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Penn Works Because We Do.”
In March, Temple graduate employees voted 290-16 to unionize. The University agreed to honor the results, said Anthony Dick, a graduate in Psychology.
According to Dick, the rally was held because of unfair labor practices such as low pay, poor benefits and a heavy workload.
Dick said that graduate teaching assistants are paid for 20 hours of work a week, but usually end up working much more.
In addition, Dick said that the University was supposed to negotiate a contract with TUGSA Friday, but later pushed the meeting back.
“The University minimum for graduate stipend is in the bottom third of universities across the country. Rutgers’ [teaching assistants] make about $3000 more than we do,” said Dick.
Ruth Dickau, an international graduate teaching assistant from Canada, dressed as an archeological dig to make a statement about low pay.
“I feel like dirt-cheap labor,” said Dickhau over the loudspeaker. “I pay double taxes even though I don’t enjoy any of the benefits.”
As an F1 Visa holder Dickhau can not go on welfare or receive other federal benefits. In addition to that, she said all F1 Visa holders were ineligible for President Bush’s tax cut.
Dickhua said that she makes around $1000 a month, but after taxes and healthcare, she is left with $800 to live on. She said that because she is an international student she is not allowed to get a job off campus.
“Temple needs to address TUGSA’s concerns and they are now the legal institutional bargaining unit for all teaching assistants,” said William Cutler, president of the Temple University Association of Professional Faculty.
Cutler said the average teaching assistant makes about $11,000 a year, plus the cost of tuition. He added that it is higher in some departments.
Cutler said that increasing the salary of graduate employees would be beneficial to Temple because it would prevent students from going to other universities where the pay is higher.
Karen B. Schermerhorn, a part-time faculty member at CCP, and co-president of the American Federation of Teachers came out to support TUGSA. She said part-time employees experience some of the same things as the graduate teaching assistants.
“Depending on seniority, the part-timer [at CCP] gets one-third to one-half of health care coverage, that a full-time employee gets,” said Schermerhorn.