last semester, the Employment ServiceYees International Union (SEIU) Local 73 signed on Illinois State University Graduate teaching assistant (GTA) Contract to offer. This is ISU’s first GTA contract.
NOTnegotiation for andand the contract lasted almost two years and has been in effect since Oct. 21, 2021.
The contract describe new minimum wage for GTAs with master’s and doctoral degrees as well as tuition waivers, fee credit and student health insurance.
“… Many people’s lives have improved. That doesn’t mean they aren’t hard yet, of course.“, SEIU Local 73 Bargaining Committee Member Steven Lazaroff said.
“I think a hard truth is that we got some major wins with that first contract. But unfortunately the truth is that UIS still pays poverty wages. Jit’s not over for graduate workers or for staff or even for not titular track faculty on campus,” Lazaroff continued.
Prior to signing the contract, the Graduate Workers Union (GWU) at the USI organized several events requiring fair wages.
Since the new contract has been signed and in force, GWU continued to speak out on the working conditions of GTA not meeting expectations.
“the most importantly i believe graduate workers need full time pay“, said Lazaroff. “We are not part time workers. And I don’t necessarily say that because we work more than 20 hours a week on our teaching, it’s true. Bbut what i’m talking about is that we deserve compensation for our research.”
Lazaroff said ISU has graduates to thank for many programs that attract future students.
“We deserve to be paid 40 hours a week because our research, our learning and our courses and our writing, although all eat work is work for the ISU. Jhat goes into what makes the ISU work and attracts peopleaand we don’t get paid for it,” said Lazaroff.
Many of these questions that the GWU continues to express have been highlighted throughout the pandemic as it has placed many workers of various professions, including GTAs, in difficult positions.
“Our workers are economically precarious, aren’t they, and that leads to all sorts of other problems in our lives, doesn’t it? Housing, healthcare and food insecurity, and the full range of everyday insecurity“, said Lazaroff.
“Jhe pandemic has, as with many workers who are precarious in the U.S. And in the world, made [life] More difficult. Jit does so UIS isn’t unique in that it doesn’t bail them out.”
Lazaroff explainsed how he thinks the flow high COVID-19 positivity rate due to Omicron variant to creates hazardous conditions for ISU will continue its in-person classes.
“OWe care about supporting our workers in this pandemic and the best way to do that is to demand COVID negotiations“, said Lazaroff.“[Also by] demanding that our workers, and generally on-campus workers and on-campus students and staff and faculty, receive what is necessary to be sure so we can learn.”
Many of these concerns will affect negations of future GTA contracts as graduate workers, like Lazaroff, continue to speak out about issues related to their working conditions.
Lazaroff explained how negnotcation for the next GTA contract will be open soon as usually the contract negotiation opens one year before the expiration of the current contract. UIS Current The GTA contract will expire on June 30, 2023.
“Graduate teaching assistants are an important part of the teaching and learning environment at ISU“, Dsaid director of media relations Eric Jome.
“ISU management continues to work with the GTAs represented by SEIU Local 73 and will re-enter into negotiations with the union as the effective end date of the contract approaches.
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