My name is Anna, I’m a 4th year PhD Student in Marine and Environmental Biology and a member of our bargaining team. I’m writing with an update from yesterday’s bargaining session. Graduate Student Workers (GSWs) reached another important Tentative Agreement (TA) on Health Benefits. This TA guarantees that all University Health Fees are paid for by USC and importantly establishes a $250,000 Hardship Account where GSWs with dependents can apply to receive up to $2,500 per semester.
For full updates, check out the tracker.
- TA on Health Benefits
- Some actual movement on Wages from USC admin
- Still no USC admin counter on Nondiscrimination and harassment
- Bargaining more today (RSVP here)
- Sign up for Week One strike picket shifts, starting November 28th, here
On Wages, USC admin, for the first time ever, made proposals that make movement toward meaningfully addressing cost-of-living concerns. Graduate Student Workers’ pressure is working, but it remains to be seen whether USC admin will continue making enough progress to prevent a strike. GSWs need to see higher numbers before an agreement is reached: a wage supplement for this academic year, a minimum stipend for next year that addresses cost-of-living concerns, and wage adjustments for subsequent years that keep pace with inflation.
Although the progress on Wages is encouraging, USC admin must make a proposal that enshrines arbitrable protections from harassment and discrimination in the contract. As it stands, USC admin’s proposal is that protections from workplace abuse should be carved out of the worker-led grievance process and unenforceable under the contract. USC administration has the power to ensure that what happened to Kayla Love, a 4th year PhD candidate in the Chemistry department, never happens again. Kayla experienced blatant pregnancy discrimination when she tried to take a parental leave and USC admin’s internal processes denied her any real recourse.
USC admin needs to come to the table with an offer that addresses these issues now. If they don’t, GSWs will walk off the job and onto the picket lines on Tuesday. To show administration that we mean business, GSWs are planning to flood the picket lines Week One.