On Friday, May 12th, GAU met with the BOT bargaining team for our third session and boy a lot happened!
Firstly, the BOT team presented their counter to article 22 - Stipends. In their proposal, they rejected our lowered minimum stipend of $33,456 (for 0.5 FTE) and instead replaced it with a flat across the board raise of 5%. This effectively raises the minimum from $16,250 to $17,100 for 0.5 FTE.
They also finally met our demand for fee relief language. Although the language is not as strong as we would like it to be, this is a huge win for us. GAU has been fighting for the inclusion of fee relief for over 10 years! Their proposal said that FSU would give $200 per semester for GAs on 0.5 FTE and $100 per semester for GAs on 0.25-0.49 FTE. The numbers are small but the foot is in the door!
We then presented our response to article 16 - health insurance. If you'd recall, FSU basically denied our initial proposal of 100% subsidy including dental, vision, and dependent insurance. However, noting their movement on fees and stipends, we decided to scale back our initial demands. We kept our demand of 100% coverage for dental, vision, and dependent insurance but scaled back our demand for the health insurance rates. Our demand was to raise the health insurance subsidy from 79.9% to 90% (for those on 0.5 FTE) and subsequently raise the other rates by the same amount of 10.1% for the other FTEs. We got to this number by comparing how much other comparable schools' health insurance subsidies are. Most Florida public schools, as well as other competitor schools, invest much more money than FSU on graduate healthcare - that needs to change.
The BOT team did not have any clarifying questions and took our counter to caucus.
In caucus, the bargaining committee deliberated a response to BOT's stipends article. We decided to strengthen the fee relief language by capping how much GAs pay rather than stating how much FSU will give us. This way, if fees ever increase, we are guaranteed to pay the same rate. We used the same numbers they did, so the language states no GA shall pay more than $100 if they are on 0.5 FTE or higher and $200 if they are on 0.25-0.49 FTE.
We also crossed out the 5% ATB raise and replaced it with a lowered minimum stipend of $29,160. This is the minimum salary we would need in order to not qualify for food stamps. We reiterated that our main priority here is to get GAs out of poverty, a 5% raise simply does not do that for most of our unit. This is not to say we are against having a raise, but the floor must be lifted first before we proceed.
FSU was not able to come with any other counter proposals during the meeting, so we expect responses for both stipends and health insurance in our next meeting on Friday, May 26th.
It is still early in the bargaining process, but there is a lot of movement! Please consider attending the next meetings if you can as a large membership presence has a lot of influence in the proceedings. This last meeting again had around 20 members, which shows FSU that these issues are important and change is needed! Hope to see you there!
Department of Physics