On Monday Oct. 30, the Temple University Graduate Student Association (TUGSA) met with other organizations to talk about labor relations.
TUGSA members were joined by the Workers Rights Board (WRB), a Philadelphia labor relations group comprised of 40 unions and groups/organizations including the National Nubian Jewish Organization and Philadelphia City Council members.
Five guest speakers headlined the meeting, followed by small group discussions debating issues to be addressed by TUGSA in an open letter to Temple President David Adamany.
There were eight points each group agreed on: recognition of TUGSA, open communication between the neighborhood and administration, establishment of a health care and benefits package, funding for programs like the Russell Conwell Center, access to the Board of Directors, reaffirmation of affirmative action and better relations with the public.
April Logan, an English teaching assistant and TUGSA member, summarized the goals and grievances integral to TUGSA. Important issues include getting health care benefits and livable wages.
After the groups brought all of their ideas together, there was an inclusive discussion on general grievances for the open letter. They concluded that there were four points absolutely necessary to Adamany’s attention: a partnership between public schools and Temple, recognition of TUGSA, Board access and open communication and reassert policies of affirmative action and reassess racist policies.
Tom Cronin, President of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, District Council 47, was the first to speak.
When asked what his experience as a union leader has been when dealing with Temple, Cronin replied simply, “Not good.” Cronin added that in his experience under former President Peter Liacouras, the situation was not favorable for unions.
Cronin stressed he would like to see some changes at Temple including a fair agreement consisting of decent wages and a benefits package, without sacrificing wages. He said it is essential for Temple to recognize TUGSA as a union in order to go forward.
Vicki Millhouse, organizer for the United Childcare Union and former Temple employee offered her organizations’ assistance to TUGSA.
“The only way to gain respect is to stick together,” Millhouse said.
Darcell Waters is the President of the Nelson Brown/People’s Village Community Organization- located near Temple.
Waters said there is a resentment of unions passed down from parents and grandparents based on the belief that Temple used deception to gain land and buildings.
She referred to the situation as “master and slave” with policies based on “control issues.” Waters said the community was “being told what to do.”
Tara Colston, a sophomore from a local high school, and member of the Philadelphia Student Union, consisting of five chapters in local high schools, was concerned about admissions issues. Speaking about Liacouras, Colston said, the “old president decided to turn away from accepting inner city students, because they were accepting too many” and that the new president will continue with that trend.
Colston thinks that has refocused their recruiting efforts towards “magnet schools” and “suburbia.”