On Monday, November 13th the final two tentative article agreements for the proposed 2018-2019 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the University of Florida and Graduate Assistants United were signed.
After nearly a year of intense negotiations, including an assault on GA health benefits and misleading offers for salary minimums and raises from the University, we are pleased to announce that we won several notable items for the new contract. We also understand you may have some questions as to what this means to you as a graduate assistant...
SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? UF GAU is currently compiling the previously agreed upon articles of the CBA and checking for accuracy to ensure that language that we have won is not left out or altered. The UF Board of Trustees (BOT) will be asked by the university to ratify the agreement once both versions are correct. After this vote takes place, GAU will also administer a ratification vote for GAs.
WHEN IS RATIFICATION AND WHO CAN VOTE? GAU is still considering polling locations and times that will best reach the entire unit. Given the timing of this agreement, we anticipate that voting will take place early 2018. ALL GRADUATE ASSISTANTS, regardless of GAU membership, are encouraged to vote. A notice of ratification with final details will be sent to your UF email prior to the vote..
WHAT IS IN THE NEW CONTRACT ANYWAYS? In addition to compiling the new CBA, GAU is working to provide comprehensive but easy to understand summaries to any changes made to all 26 articles. These will be made available prior to the ratification vote. In the meantime, we'd like to highlight some of the major changes:
The minimum salary for a GA increases from $15,000 to $16,000 for those on 9-month appointments and appointed at .50 full-time equivalent (FTE), with the actual amount being proportional to your FTE and appointment length.
GAs will receive $100 in fee relief and a $550 raise to annual salaries, both effective January 1st, 2018. Includes an additional $100 in fee relief, effective August 15th, 2018, and an additional raise of $225, effective January 1st, 2019.
GAs have the chance to respond the feedback in writing before punishment from negative supervisor feedback regarding work duties.
The University and its colleges, departments, and other branches may not discriminate based on gender identity.
The University will explicitly acknowledge a level of academic freedom of GAs in the classroom, the laboratory, or the public sphere that approaches that of the faculty.
GAs may be eligible for an unpaid leave of absence (from a semester up to a year) to pursue dissertation/thesis research, but includes health benefits and a tuition waiver.
9-month appointments may be appointed as “Research Assistant” over a summer term to work on personal dissertation/thesis research with full pay and benefits but without a work (e.g. lab or teaching) requirement.
In-depth changes to GatorGradCare can be viewed HERE.
WILL THE NEW TAX BILL EFFECT THE CONTRACT? The current tax reform proposals in Congress pose a serious threat to the financial stability, and therefore general well being and productivity, of graduate students in general and GAs specifically. GAU will remain vigilant in the upcoming weeks and months, applying pressure wherever and however we can to help to prevent this harmful bill. In the event the tax on tuition waivers comes to fruition, the GAU Bargaining Committee will do everything in our power to mitigate the financial damage to GAs. As per the CBA, we are due back to the bargaining table to negotiate salary and raises next year. GAU will fight to ensure that hardworkingGAs, who already struggle to get by every month, are not the ones who bear the brunt of this proposed plan!
If you are already a dues-paying member of GAU, please know that a portion of your dues goes to support national organizations (AFT, NEA) currently working and lobbying aggressively against passage of this bill. If you are not a dues-paying member, please consider joining today to aid in the movement against this and other assaults on graduate education and the livelihoods of academic employees.
We also need your help! Please contact your representatives!
To read the full statement on the conclusion of bargaining from our Chief Bargainer, please click here!
Graduate Assistants United at the University of Florida Your Union! Your Voice!