After several last minute cancellations and weeks without bargaining, GAU finally met with FSU's bargaining team for the second time. In this session, FSU provided their counter-proposals.
Before I get into the proposals, I just want to express my gratitude to the over 20 GAs that showed up - most of which were general members! There were so many people that we had to move into a larger room! This type of participation is so crucial because it puts a LOT more pressure on admin, and they were definitely feeling the heat. All of the members there either read a submitted impact statement or spoke about their own experiences, clearly showing FSU that our demands are essential for our well-being and they must be addressed. If we can replicate this number for future bargaining sessions, I am confident it will make a huge difference as negotiations continue.
We also addressed FSU's unprofessional behavior since bargaining started on March 5th. Despite having our proposals for weeks, they decided to cancel a meeting just two days before it was scheduled. Then they said they would not be able to bargain until the end of April (about a month). The session in April was cancelled due to COVID concerns on FSU's side, but they did promise to send us their counters prior to this Friday's meeting. That promise was not kept, and despite me emailing them several times, I never got a response. This behavior demonstrates that FSU simply does not care about us, even though we are an integral part of the institution.
My message to them was simple - this is a pattern of disrespectful behavior and it must end. FSU made excuses about waiting for the legislator and that they were "working until midnight last night" to get a proposal. Next time you feel bad for putting an assignment to the last minute, just remember that FSU's bargaining team does the same thing! Jokes aside, the very least we should expect is a response to our emails and some level of transparency. FSU promised to do better, but the trust is simply not there. We will have to see how this unfolds.
Article 22: Stipends
Now onto the proposals. FSU responded to our demand of increasing the minimum stipend to a living wage ($34,156 for 0.5 FTE) with a flat raise of 4.25% across the board. While this initial offer is much higher than the 1% raise we fought hard for last bargaining, it is still inadequate to address the needs for GAs. It only raises the minimum stipend by $690 and gives more money to GAs that are already making higher stipends. Our response was to lower our initial demand of $34,156 to $33466 (decrease of $690) and emphasize that our priority is to get every GA to as close to a living wage as possible. Any raise that fails to do this is simply not good enough.
Let's also remember the fact that we have experienced record high inflation the last few years, ranging from 6-8% in Florida depending on what CPI number you use. Given this, the "generous" 4.25% raise results in a pay cut.
They also rejected our fee relief clause but did say they were open to "being creative" on this issue. They cite legal issues as the reason for being hesitant on accepting our language. However, much of the language we use is taken directly from UF-GAU's CBA and they have not had any legal issues since it was implemented. We kindly asked FSU's team to list out concrete concerns they have so that we can communicate with our friends at UF-GAU and show how their concerns are unfounded. All in all, it is nice to hear them open to the idea of fee relief, and it is something that we will push hard for in the coming weeks and months.
Article 16: Health Insurance
For the health insurance and appointments articles, FSU completely rejected our initial proposals and came back with status quo. For health insurance, they claim premiums have increased, so they will already be taking on more financial burden. But premium increases are expected, and they are still only covering 79.9% for GAs on 0.5 FTE, which means our healthcare costs will go up. They also did not want to include dental and vision subsidies. This was obviously very disappointing, but for this session, we decided to focus on the stipends article since that was where the most movement was. While we focused on stipends, health insurance remains a top priority for GAs and our bargaining team.
Article 2: Appointments
As for appointments, they claim that significant progress was already made last bargaining so we don't need to continue increasing prep pay. The validity of that statement is irrelevant, as significant progress can be made but that does not mean it is finished. We still need a full two weeks prep pay for our TA's and instructors of record, and we will be sure to fight hard for it in later sessions.
That about wraps up the important updates from bargaining. I highly recommend you come and attend our next bargaining sessions or write and send us impact statements to read to FSU's team. It's really cool seeing new people in different departments come together for a common cause! So come, meet new people, and fight for a better life. Bargaining is one of the only ways you can truly have a say in the workplace, so take advantage!
If you'd like to send us impact statements or get more involved with bargaining, email me at email@example.com.
Department of Physics