After a meeting with a lot of back-and-forth, GAU and FSU has finally come to an agreement on a contract! Here are the wins GAU's bargaining team was able to get into the contract:
$250 per semester in fee relief for GAs on a 0.5 full time equivalent (FTE) or above appointment
$125 per semester in fee relief for GAs on a 0.25-0.49 FTE appointment
An increase to the minimum stipend from $16,250 to $18,000 effective Fall 2023
A 5% across-the-board raise effective Fall 2023
An increase to the minimum stipend from $18,000 to $18,700 effective Fall 2024
A 4% across-the-board raise effective Fall 2024
Many of these numbers came from a last minute push in our last meeting. The meeting began with another two year contract offer from FSU where the minimum would increase to $17,500 this year and $18,200 the second with a 5% raise each year. Their team also stated that the deal would need to be done that day in order for FSU to implement fee relief (deadline given by the office of student business services) this upcoming fall semester which put a lot of pressure on GAU.
While we understood the stakes, we also did not want to lay down and give into FSU's offer just yet. We quickly returned a one year offer that put the minimum stipend at $18,000 with a 5.25% raise and agreed to their fee relief language and amount (listed above). This definitely got FSU's attention as they were in caucus for about an hour calling their "higher-ups" to come up with a counter. At the end, they offered an extra $500 to the minimum stipend for each year while only lowering the second year raise to 4%. They were also able to extend the deadline for the fee relief by two days for us to come back with an answer.
After deliberating and polling our membership, we decided to take the two-year deal. We have always been consistent with our attitude towards a two-year deal: we are open to it if and only if we see the financial investment FSU said it allows them to give. After forcing them to move up on the minimum stipend, we believe we pushed as far as we could and got a significant amount of investment for GAs. Furthermore, the threat of decertification next year could mean we won't have the ability to bargain, so taking a two-year deal is a safer bet long-term for GAs.
I am so proud of our bargaining team and all of the general members that showed up and made their voices heard during this bargaining season! However, while this contract does put a lot of money back to GAs, we still have a long way to go. The simple fact is that while wages will increase, we still face increasing inflation, housing prices, and health insurance costs.
The battle isn't over, which is why we need to turn our attention fully to organizing and getting our membership to 60%. Without a union, GAs will lose valuable protection from abuse, the benefit of collective bargaining, and be at the whims of FSU's board of trustees. So it's time to get involved, become a department representative or join a committee and be apart of a membership drive we have not see at FSU! The future is bright if we fight for it!
It's been a pleasure writing these bargaining blogs, and I thank all of you for reading them! This isn't goodbye, but a "see you soon". I hope you guys enjoy your raises and fee relief and remember: FSU works because we do!
Physics PhD Student