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Bargaining Session #8

On Friday, June 23rd, GAU met for the eighth time with FSU's bargaining team. In this session, we presented our fifth (I believe) counter offer for stipends. Last session, FSU decided to increase the minimum to $17,100 this upcoming fall and $18,000 for fall 2024, as well as a 5% ATB raise. They also rejected again our language for a fee relief cap and instead put the number they are going to give ($250 for 0.5FTE and above, $125 for 0.25-0.49FTE).

In response to the lack of increase to the minimum stipend, we decided to lower our demand by the same amount they increased theirs: $900. We again struck the raise language and reiterated that we need to focus on the minimum stipend before we talk about raises. We also put back our fee cap language.

I presented some research to the bargaining team to put their offer in perspective. Usually, when you hear 5% raise, that sounds great! But with all statistics, they are meaningless without context. 5% for someone on the minimum stipend is simply not a lot and does not meaningfully change their dire situation. At a time when about a third of GAs are food insecure and over half are housing insecure*, now is not the time for incremental change.

To put things in perspective, the college of Arts and Sciences announced a $2,000 raise for each GA in the college. Using a bargaining unit list provided by FSU, I calculated that this would cost the college about $2.5 million. FSU's offer would cost them $8-9.4 million over the two years. That means that a single college, which holds about 40% of GAs, will be giving more than a quarter in one year what the university as a whole will be giving in two years! FSU stated they wanted to go to a two year contract because it provides them "financial flexibility", well it's time for them to be flexible!

FSU responded to our counter by increasing their raise to 5.25% for the first year - a nothing burger. They said they were told by superiors to give raises to everyone and that they cannot accept our minimum stipend number. Michael Mattimore, a lawyer who makes hundreds of dollars an hour, expressed bewilderment to our demand of $26,500, saying "twenty six thousand, wow that's a ten thousand dollar jump!"(paraphrasing). We were sure to remind him that $26,500 is not close to a living wage and that GAs on the minimum are starving. It is a special kind of infuriating when someone who makes several times that number express frustration with us as if we're asking for an exorbitant amount of money.

Anyway, FSU requested we have some language for an ATB raise so that they can go back and get a better number for the minimum with the agreement there will also be a raise. This was a strange request considering the fact we never denied the possibility of there being a raise, we just said we needed to establish the minimum first and then we could move to raises. We then gave a counter agreeing to a raise for this year (still not agreeing with the two year yet) but put TBD for the numbers and dates to keep the ball in FSU's court.

Our next sessions will be Wednesday, July 5th, and Friday, July 7th from 2-5PM at the training center. Please consider attending as general membership attendance greatly enhances our leverage and credibility.

In Solidarity,

Dennis Houlihan

Physics PhD Student

GAU Bargaining Chair

Chief Negotiator

*Results from our bargaining survey distributed in Fall 2022. A full survey report can be found on our home page.

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