In 2014 we succeeded in solidifying our rights as employees in a hard-fought contract, with strong language that recognizes, among other things, our right to affordable healthcare, a fair wage, and a safe working environment free of hazards, discrimination, and harassment. That contract expires at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year. This means that we will soon begin fighting for an even stronger contract. On this page, the bargaining committee will keep you posted regularly on the status of our progress as negotiations get underway.
UPDATE: October 31, 2017
Thanks to everyone who voted so far on our bargaining goals. A majority of Graduate Assistants have now endorsed our goals. While this is a strong first step in this year’s contract campaign, continued participation and support from GAs across campus will be critical to securing a fair second contract with the university.
On Halloween, we met with the University’s bargaining team and came to agreement on ground rules for our negotiations. We subsequently presented our bargaining agenda, which focuses on four themes: quality, accessibility, inclusivity, and competitiveness. While the University expressed agreement with some of our conceptual themess, they made no commitment to any of our particular goals and stated we will likely have to work through some obstacles – especially the current state budget crisis — in order to reach agreement. We will have a better sense of how we can expect negotiations to go after our next bargaining session, as we barely began to discuss substantive aspects of our agenda on Tuesday. But we do know that when we negotiated the first contract with UConn, the participation and action taken by GAs played a critical role in achieving the important improvements we won and we expect this round of negotiations will be no different.
UPDATE: November 3, 2017
We met with the University bargaining team again on Friday. We made initial proposals on Appointment Notification, Childcare, Time Off, and Travel We designed our proposals to improve the current language in the contract in ways we believe would improve our experience as GAs and enhance the quality of our teaching and research work, while also making our university more inclusive, competitive, and accessible.
Rather than discuss the merits of our proposals, the University team mostly pointed to the state budget crisis and emphasized that it would not make any counter proposals on economic issues until we had made all of our proposals. While we are aware of the economic climate in which we are negotiating, we will continue to pursue a contract that reflects the critical and unique value we provide as GAs alongside faculty and other staff at UConn. If you would like to get involved in helping win a fair contract this year, please send us an email at email@example.com. See below for more details about our proposals so far.
Appointment Notification- As our bargaining surveys indicated some unevenness with timely appointment offers for GA positions, we proposed strengthening the language calling for early notification of appointments and specific assignments, as well as the language encouraging longer appointments. Timely and longer appointments provide more security so that we can focus more of our energy on doing quality research and teaching.
Childcare- While GAs with children deeply appreciated the establishment of childcare subsidies under our first contract, a large portion of actual costs went uncovered. So, in order to continue our efforts to enhance family-friendly benefits, we proposed an ambitious increase to our subsidy pool that would maximize coverage of the expenses incurred by GAs with children.
Time Off- Since some departments and supervisors still tried to deny time off to GAs under our first contract, our proposal would clarify specific minimum amounts of time off for all GAs and help clarify the difference between time off (for personal reasons like vacation or visiting family) and “leaves of absence” (for things like maternity, or sickness). Fair access to time off allows GAs to visit family, which can involve overseas travel for international students, or attend to other personal needs.
Travel- We proposed that GAs who are required to work at a campus other than their home campus (e.g. a graduate student at Storrs who is required to teach at Waterbury) are reimbursed for travel costs. We believe this is a fair proposal for the small number of GAs affected by this unique set of costs and helps achieve equity for the GAs required to work at branch campuses.