Big news for you, GAs:
Bargaining with the FSU administration concluded on Wednesday, October 30th. I’ll spare you the back and forths because I think I know what your main questions are going to be:
The university agreed to a $600 raise to the minimum stipend next fall, bringing the minimum up to $15,600, or $20.00 an hour. As the minimum is a locked-in minimum threshold every year going forward, this is classified as “recurring” money for the university’s budgeting purposes. With this $600 gain, this makes Graduate Assistants the ONLY FSU employees to have won an increase in recurring funds this year.
Not even the faculty union managed to do this.
As the FSU Board of Trustees agreed to those recurring funds, we agreed to a one-time, non-recurring bonus instead of a % salary increase. Although we’ve been fighting hard against bonuses all year, we appreciated the university moving from its deadlocked position against recurring funds when it came to the minimum stipend, so we compromised on this.
The bonus is $650 that you will see as a lump sum on your December 6th paycheck, if you are appointed at .5FTE. For GAs at .25-.49FTE, you will receive a $325 bonus on your December 6th paycheck (if you have multiple appointments that add up to .5FTE or higher, you will receive $650). If you’re at or near the minimum, that’s equivalent to a 4% raise—an amount we’ve never gotten in the history of our union.
Yes, this does mean next year we’ll have to fight for twice as much of a salary increase in order to make sure we keep up with the cost of living, but we’re aware of that and already planning our 2020 bargaining strategy with that in mind.
The university agreed to cover the $82 increase in health insurance premiums. This means the price of your health insurance is exactly the same as last year for you, even though the university is paying $82 more for it.
Reminder: vision, dental, and dependent coverage are all available to buy when you’re purchasing your spring insurance. The more people on these plans, the lower costs are, and the more likely the university is to keep these plans around. I highly recommend them! Our vision insurance apparently has good coverage for contacts, and the dental insurance is accepted at both the dental office inside the university health center and at other dental offices throughout Tallahassee.
International Student Tuition Waivers
Although we have not yet managed to fix this problem once and for all, great strides are being made and we’re closer to a solution than ever. The university agreed to add strong language to the contract about working on this problem, they are currently holding committee meetings which are progressing towards a solution, and they agreed to open this article next year for us. As we only get to open 4 articles per year for bargaining, freeing up one of those articles strengthens our bargaining position. Note that this article is also the article which concerns student fees and is therefore a priority for us to have open every year for bargaining.
And now, for the first time ever, I am NOT going to end this email begging you to come out and support us at bargaining.
Instead, look for me in the HCB Breezeway November 12th, 13th, and 14th around noon each day to come and VOTE to ratify this new Collective Bargaining Agreement! And then on the 15th come on out to our monthly social at proof for free beer, food, and a celebration of our new contract! Your support did this, guys, and I can’t thank you enough.
For the last time,
Vincenza Antonetta Berardo
Chief Negotiator, UFF-FSU-GAU
Ph.D. Candidate Philosophy Department Florida State University