GAU and FSU BOT met for the fourth time last Friday, May 26th. In this meeting, FSU responded to our demands in both the stipends and health insurance articles. We demanded a raise to the minimum stipend to $29,160 as well as a cap for how much GAs pay for student fees ($100 for 0.5FTE and above, $200 for 0.25-0.49FTE). For health insurance, we demanded an increase of health insurance subsidy from 79.9% to 90% for 0.5 FTE and above (other FTE's were also increased by 10.1%), with dental, vision, and dependent insurance fully covered.
FSU did not meet us on any of these demands. The only movement was an increase to their previous initial fee relief offer from $200 to $250 per semester for 0.5 FTE and above ($100 to $125 for 0.25-0.49 FTE). Their counter included making the contract a 2 year contract instead of a 1 year, and keep the 5% raise for both years. This will mean we effectively skip our full-book bargaining next year.
This is a substantial development considering the political climate we face ourselves in and our decision to accept or deny a 2 year contract has several risks. For those that do not know, Florida signed a law that would require public sector unions (except firefighter and police unions of course) to have 60% membership in order to recertify. If you do not reach that threshold, a new union election must occur. Needless to say, that would make things much more difficult for us. We have to be realistic, our membership is around 20% right now and so we need a huge organizing effort in order to get to that 60%. This reality must be taken into account for our decisions in bargaining. We will be having a bargaining committee meeting Wednesday at 5PM at the Keen Building (room 701) where we will discuss at length our options and the best path forward. We will also send out a poll to see our general membership's opinions on what direction to take, so keep an eye out for that!
But back to the meeting... FSU never actually put their proposal into writing. GAU took time to ask clarifying questions but we were not comfortable making such a big decision in that same meeting, especially without it being written down. We will be having a short bargaining session on Wednesday at 8:30-10AM at the training center where the BOT team will actually present us their written proposal. We do not expect to have an answer for them that same day, but will deliberate in the bargaining committee meeting later that day (as listed above).
I will repeat, as I so often do, that general membership participation is extremely important. We had another good showing of around 15 people last bargaining session, and it is crucial to keep this up, especially when negotiations start to get contested and stall. So try and make one of the meetings this Wednesday and have your voice heard! Hope to see you soon!
Physics PhD Student