My name is Maggie, and I’m a 4th-year in the Sociology department, also on the bargaining team. I’m writing with an update from yesterday’s bargaining session, where we reached three new Tentative Agreements (TAs) but saw little progress on the three major issues still on the table: Wages, Nondiscrimination, and Union Security.
- USC admin still delaying Nondiscrimination and Union Security counters, little progress on Wages
- TA on Leaves: Guaranteed one semester parental/health leave + five annual days bereavement leave + five annual sick days
- TA on Parking: 200 slots for GSWs to participate in partial week permit program
- “Know Your Rights” Town Hall happening this Friday, 3pm, in EEB 132 (RSVP here)
- Strike Deadline November 28th: Clock is ticking for USC admin to come to the table with fair offers
Beyond the TAs listed above, the most notable aspect of yesterday’s bargaining session was USC admin’s unwillingness to move on the three core issues left on the table. At the bargaining table, admin justified their lack of movement with misleading talking points about Graduate Student Worker (GSW) pay.
USC admin claims: Wage increases are essentially a zero-sum game; any increases that GSWs receive would come at the expense of USC’s overall graduate education mission. Also, any additional wages this year (current GSW proposal: $10 million total cost) would be unbudgeted for USC Graduate School and too expensive for USC administration.
Reality: USC administration is crying poor while skimming off the top of every grant that GSWs help bring in, and while spending exorbitantly in other areas. The $2.6 billion in grant money that USC GSWs have helped bring in for this year and future years don’t just support graduate education and research; they support the entire University and help pay USC administrators’ sky-high salaries. In keeping the lights on in labs and classrooms, USC GSWs provide immense monetary value for the entire university.
This is USC we’re talking about: an institution known for being incredibly wealthy and powerful. USC spends roughly $6 billion annually, and has assets totalling over $16.7 billion. The total cost of the wage supplement that GSWs are demanding for this year is less than they pay the USC football coach every year ($11 million). GSW wages are absolutely not a zero-sum game; USC admin can afford to pay us more without blinking an eye.
Finally, USC administration has continually failed to make any meaningful progress on Nondiscrimination or Union Security. Admin’s current position, which has been the exact same position for months now, is that protections from harassment and discrimination should be carved out of the grievance process and unenforceable under the contract. This means that GSWs who face discrimination would be the only workers barred from using our hard-won worker-oriented resolution procedure.
Admin’s position on Union Security is similarly untenable: it’s a right-wing proposal meant to limit GSWs’ ability to organize a strong and effective union.
We can’t bargain forever. It’s time for USC admin to get serious, stop committing Unfair Labor Practices, and come to the table with fair offers. If they don’t, thousands of GSWs will walk out on strike on November 28th.