Temple University

Temple University, Striking Grad Students Reach Agreement

Though graduate students remain on strike, a tentative deal could soon end the weeks-long walkout

Temple logo on red flag

Temple University and its striking graduate student teaching and research assistants have reached a tentative agreement that could end the 2 1/2-week-long walkout.

Temple said the agreement includes wage increases in all four years as well as a one-time payment effective this month. The announcement on the university's website said graduate students will retain free health insurance for themselves but does not mention such insurance for dependents, which the union had been seeking.

“We are pleased with the outcome and eager to welcome our students back to their teaching, research and studies,” Ken Kaiser, Temple senior vice president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Bethany Kosmicki, a member of the negotiating team and past president of the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association, confirmed the tentative agreement and said it would be presented to members for ratification.

“It’s been a long couple days,” she said, declining further comment, the newspaper reported.

The Temple University Graduate Student Association, which represents about 750 members, began the first strike in its two-decade-long history on Jan. 31 after more than a year of negotiations and no agreement. The students teach core undergraduate courses and assist professors with research.

The university maintains that more than 80% of graduate student teaching and research assistants continued to work, but the union said at least twice that many were on strike. Many classes were moved online to accommodate new instructors' schedules and following reports of intimidation of students and instructors, the university said.

During the walkout, Temple withdrew free tuition from the strikers, giving them a month to pay in full or face a late fee and a financial hold that would bar them from registering for more classes. Union leaders said the university also began deactivating striking students’ health care accounts.

Under the proposed pact, graduate students will get their benefits and tuition remission restored, while the union also agreed to withdraw a pending claim of unfair labor practice, the university said.

The union was seeking to raise average pay from $19,500 a year to more than $32,000, while the university is offering 3% raises that would result in average pay of about $22,000 over the four-year contract. The strikers also wanted health care coverage for dependents and longer paid parental leave and bereavement leave.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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