Fellow Graduate Assistants,
It has taken six months since reopening our 2022-2023 Article 10 salary negotiations to receive our first counter proposal from the UF administrative bargaining team– a counter proposal that not only ignores all our demands and priorities as outlined in our first session but goes beyond to threaten fee relief under the guise of a collaborative and transparent effort.
In late January, UF-GAU presented our first proposal which prioritized raising the minimum stipend to a livable wage and avoiding one-time payments and percentage raises. This was primarily done to protect those of us who make the least and bring our most marginalized groups out of financial crisis. We used comparable data from our competing Top 5 institutions to request a livable stipend based on our cost of living, with a new minimum stipend on a 9-month appointment of $28,875 and a 12-month appointment of $38,500.
While the UF administrative bargaining team has entered new leadership, we are still receiving the same pushback and disregard for graduate assistant wellbeing. Instead of a reasonable offer, we’ve been met with a percentage “raise” in lieu of fee relief, a one-time 3% raise (equating to $9.80/week for students on the minimum), and no regard for raising the minimum stipend. It is incredibly concerning and disheartening to see UF administration, despite recent additions to their team, continuing to repeat history with low-ball offers and no true willingness to pay graduate students what they are worth.
We must continue fighting and pushing for a dignified wage and show UF that we will not stand for an offer that refuses to address our needs. GA’s need to be able to afford housing, to feed our families, and live comfortably outside of the confines of the University’s exploitative wages. We cannot bridge our way to a more communicative bargaining process when we are refused anything close to resembling a livable wage.
Figure 1 (left) and Figure 2 (right). A brief overview of UF’s minimum stipend accounting for inflation in 2023 for a nine-month appointment (left) and a twelve-month appointment (right). Both graphs show that UF has continually paid less over time (blue lines) when accounting for inflation, ultimately showing a pay-cut with each offer on the table.
GAU Chief Bargainer
Collective bargaining is the process by which labor unions negotiate with employers to reach a contract on terms of employment, including salary, health care, benefits, and workplace safety. Each year, GAU bargains with UF over such terms.