The Temple University Graduate Student Association voted overwhelmingly on April 17 and 18 in favor of the new four-year contract settlement that was negotiated between the union and Temple’s administration.
Union organizer Rob Callahan said that by a vote of 287-2, the TUGSA membership “decisively ratified” the contract settlement that was reached on April 10 between TUGSA and Temple negotiators. The contract still has to be ratified by Temple’s Board of Trustees before it goes into effect.
University Relations spokesperson Harriet Goodheart said that the Board will most likely meet Friday to vote on the settlement. It is expected that the Board will vote in favor of the contract.
Under the contract, TUGSA won increases in wages and healthcare coverage as well as limits on the workload graduate assistants can perform. These were three key issues the union held during the negotiations.
Graduate assistants are currently paid an average of $11,000 a year. Under the new contract, those working in the science departments will be paid a minimum of $13,400 for the 2002-2003 school year, those in Social Sciences, Business, Education, and Health will receive $12,900, and those in Arts and Humanities will receive $12,400. The grads will receive a 2.75 percent raise each year the next three years following this initial increase.
The University will also be making a higher contribution to health coverage for the graduates. Currently, the University pays $400 a year toward health coverage and the cheapest plan, CompSelect, costs over $600. Under the new contract, the University will fully pay for 12 months of coverage for CompSelect, or for 9 months of coverage from Keystone. The Keystone plan has lower co-pays and deductibles than CompSelect as well as vision, dental and prescription coverage.
Limits on workload were also established in the new contract. Union members had contended that they were being given more than 20 hours of work every week, the previously established limit. The contract formalizes this rule, guaranteeing that it will be followed.
The settlement is the result of five months of contentious negotiations. TUGSA had accused the University of using stalling tactics against the union during the course of the negotiations. The union also picketed on campus on Groundhog’s day at the Liacouras Center and at March’s Board of Trustees meeting.
Brian White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org