CSU to ratify a contract for graduate students workers

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CSU to ratify a contract for graduate students workers

Joe Kendall, Staff Photographer

Joe Kendall, Staff Photographer

Joe Kendall, Staff Photographer

by Will Fritz, Senior Staff Writer

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Graduate students who work for the California State University system concluded on a vote to ratify a tentative agreement to raise the minimum wage for assistant teachers, but some are asking for a revote after they said they were asked to vote yes.

Although the majority of union members across California voted for ratification, the majority of San Diego State graduate students voted to reject it.

For the 2016-17 academic year, teaching and graduate assistants would receive a general salary increase of two percent and a three percent range adjustment increase. The minimum wage for instructional student assistants would increase to $12.50. ISAs who already earn more than the minimum wage will receive a $0.25 across-the-board salary increase.

They were asked to vote yes by UAW Local 4123 President Sandip Roy.  This information was stated in an Oct. 25 press release from the union.

The union said members of the UAW Local 4123, which represents graduate student academic workers at all 23 CSU campuses, voted by an 89.5 percent margin to ratify the new contract.

TAs, GAs and ISAs would receive similar pay increases for the 2017-18 school year as well.

The duration for the new contract is two years.

The school system and union agreed to make no expansions of fee waivers for graduate students.

The CSU website said graduate students currently employed as teaching assistants or graduate assistants are eligible for discretionary fee waivers from the president of their university.

“The new contract will provide wage increases, better workload protection, paid pedagogy classes and make the workplace safer for all Unit 11 Employees in the California State University system,” the press release said.

San Diego State graduate student workers previously demanded the school system to raise grading and teaching assistant salaries to $28,000 a year, raise the campus minimum wage to $15 per hour, offer free public education, eliminate all student fees and expand financial aid.

The re-count comes after CSU Northridge graduate student Jen McClellan said she was fired for voting against ratifying the agreement.

She said many students voted to ratify the tentative agreement not because of their personal beliefs, but because Roy gave them no other option.

McClellan said she appealed the outcome of the vote first to the local union, then to the UAW International Executive Board, which told her the vote was not under their jurisdiction.

She said she will now be taking the next step of sending an updated appeal to the UAW Public Review Board.

“Our local president, Sandip Roy, stepped beyond his role by insisting that other members vote to approve the tentative agreement,” McClellan said in the appeal.

In the appeal, she said union members at no fewer than three job sites were told to vote publicly, rather than by secret ballot, a violation of the UAW constitution.

“President Roy terminated my loss time organizing hours immediately after I voted ‘no’ on (the tentative agreement),” she said. “I believe that my loss time organizing hours were terminated as retaliation for my vote.”

The previous contract expired on Sept. 30. Graduate students at all 23 CSU campuses began voting on ratifying the new contract after the CSU announced on Oct. 6 it had reached an agreement with the union.

Now that the union has ratified the agreement, it will be on the agenda of the Collective Bargaining Committee for a ratification vote at the November Board of Trustees meeting on Nov. 15-16. The current agreement will be extended until the meeting.

It is unclear what will happen if the UAW allows a re-vote either before or after the Board of Trustees vote.

Elizabeth Chapin, public affairs manager for the CSU Office of the Chancellor, said she was unable to comment on union politics or action.

“The tentative agreement has been ratified and will go before the Board of Trustees for ratification,” she said.

Roy did not respond to The Daily Aztec for a request for comment.

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