Temple University

Striking Grad Students Ratify Tentative Agreement With Temple University

On Monday, TUGSA announced they ratified the tentative agreement in a 344-8 vote.

NBC Universal, Inc.

After a 6-week-long walkout, striking graduate student teaching and research assistants ratified a tentative agreement with Temple University on Monday.

The Temple University Graduate Students Association (TUGSA), the labor union for teaching and research assistants at Temple in Philadelphia, reached a tentative agreement with the school Thursday night and began voting on it on Friday.

On Monday, TUGSA announced they ratified the agreement in a 344-8 vote.

TUGSA, 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 said about 20% of graduate student teaching and research assistants did not continue 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.

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 deactivated striking students’ health care accounts.

Late February, the union overwhelmingly rejected a proposed new contract which Temple said included wage increases in each of the contract's four years, as well as a one-time payment. The announcement on the university’s website said graduate students would retain free health insurance for themselves but didn’t mention insurance for dependents, which the union has sought.

The union sought to raise average pay from $19,500 a year to more than $32,000, while the university offered 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.

While replying to their announcement Thursday night on twitter, the union said they made “meaningful, material gains on every major issue we set out to address in bargaining,” including wages, dependent care, leave policies and working conditions. 

Contact Us