2023 Bargaining Has Begun!
On Friday, March 3rd, your union met with FSU to begin bargaining. This year is not a full book year, which means only select articles are to be negotiated, not the contract as a whole. Articles 16 and 22, which cover health insurance and stipends, respectively, are opened automatically. We chose to also open Article 2, which covers appointment periods, while FSU’s bargaining team opted not to open any additional articles.
GAU bargaining committee’s main priority is to fight for as much material gain as possible as quickly as possible. The current political landscape in Florida has mandated such an approach. Union-busting legislation, such as SB 256 and HB 1445, not only threaten public sector unions’ ability to organize, but their very existence as well. Despite Florida’s antagonism, GAU's bargaining committee remains focused on fighting for better living conditions for GAs through the collective bargaining process.
Our initial proposals include raising the minimum university stipend to a living wage of $34,156 per academic year, granting student fee relief, raising the university health insurance subsidy from 79.9% to 100% of premiums, including dental and vision insurance in the health insurance subsidy, and increasing the amount of paid preparation days to ten days for TAs and instructors of record.
Our demands target the greatest struggles GAs at FSU face. Earlier in the year, GAU sent out a bargaining survey to help determine the most pressing issues. From this survey, 32.8% are food insecure, 55.7% are housing insecure, and 72.5% struggle to pay for physical and mental healthcare. A comprehensive report can be seen at fsugau.org . Putting the proposals in context with these numbers, it is clear that not only are they “good” for GAs, they are needed.
The meeting itself did not include any negotiations. GAU presented the proposals to FSU’s bargaining team and answered some clarifying questions. A member from FSU’s bargaining team commented “a 1.0 FTE employee doesn’t get 100% coverage of dental and vision, are you all aware of that, that you’re asking for more than full FTE employees get?”. Apparently, since FSU screws over full time employees, they must screw GAs even more! It's only fair right??
Jokes aside, this comment tells us FSU does not believe we deserve a better health insurance subsidy. We need people to come out to the next session and tell them how important this issue is!
Courtney Riggs, GAU treasurer and bargaining committee member, responded that GAU does not bargain for full time employees and so that point is irrelevant. I responded that I hope full time employees also get full subsidies! It's always good to show solidarity with other university employees when FSU tries to pit us against each other.
The next scheduled meeting is Friday, March 24th 2-5 PM at the training center. With the ongoing attacks on public education and public sector unions, this is shaping up to be an extremely important bargaining year. We need YOU to come out and let FSU know that we need these gains! Remember, FSU works because we do!
Physics PhD Candidate
GAU Bargaining Chair