TUGSA rejects tentative agreement with Temple, continues strike

More than 92 percent of TUGSA members voted against the tentative agreement with the university.

Temple University Graduate Students’ Association has voted to reject a tentative agreement with the university and continue striking. | MOLLY FISKE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Updated on 2/21 at 9:25 p.m.

Temple University Graduate Students’ Association has voted to reject a tentative agreement with the university and continue striking, the union tweeted Tuesday night.

More than 92 percent of TUGSA membership voted against the agreement with over 83 percent of the union voting.

“TUGSA members know that [Temple University] has the resources to support its graduate TAs and RAs, that is why the strike has grown every day since it began, including since the details about the TA were shared with members,” TUGSA wrote in the tweet. “It has always been about choices. We’ve made ours.”

The vote comes days after Kaiser announced a tentative agreement between TUGSA and Temple that includes an increase to minimum pay this year and in the next three years, a one-time payment this month and the retaining of free single health care coverage for graduate student employees. 

TUGSA believes that the terms of the agreement offer minimal raises and no monetary support for dependent care. The union said that the university would look into more affordable plans for dependents, but gave no guarantees on when or how this would occur, TUGSA wrote in the tweet.

Temple offered a retroactive pay increase of 10 percent as well as a one-time payment of $1,000 to every TUGSA member, wrote Ken Kaiser, senior vice president and chief operating officer, in a message Tuesday night. The deal also included a 5 percent, 2.5 percent and 2.25 percent increase to the minimum pay of the next three academic years, respectively, he added.

”Although the TUGSA leadership left the Friday meeting promising to unanimously recommend the agreement for ratification, the TUGSA membership did not ratify the agreement,” Kaiser said. Therefore, the parties will return to bargaining soon, and we will continue to negotiate with TUGSA in good faith as we have done to date.”

The university’s offer would increase the average pay of teacher assistants and research assistants to around $21,500, the union wrote. By the end of the contract in 2026, the average will be just more than $23,600, they added.

The email also detailed an agreement between the two sides to reimburse striking students’ health costs, reinstate tuition remission and for TUGSA to withdraw pending claims of unfair labor practices.

The union’s contract negotiation team tentatively agreed to the deal because the university made the offer and said to bring it to members to vote before bargaining would continue, TUGSA wrote. 

TUGSA has been striking since Jan. 31 for increased pay, better benefits and classroom improvements. 

The strike has culminated in rallies, daily picketing and an eventual undergraduate march that blocked traffic on Broad Street to support the union. 

TUGSA has received support from multiple local and national politicians, including United States Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in a tweet on Feb. 17. Both United States Pennsylvania Senators have also shown their support for the union. 

“We look forward to bargaining with [Temple University] as soon as possible, including tomorrow, as we believe there is a clear path forward that is easily and quickly achievable for both sides,” TUGSA wrote.

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