The Lead

Striking Temple grad students, administration struggle to reach final agreement

By: - February 23, 2023 1:15 pm
Protesters gather at the Temple University bell tower during rally on Thursday 2/2/23 (Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler).

PHILADELPHIA — Nearly a week after they announced a tentative agreement to end a work stoppage, striking graduate teaching and research assistants at Temple University have rejected the deal, prompting pushback and “disappointment” from university administrators.

Members of the  Temple University Graduate Student Association voted 352-30 on Tuesday night to reject the pact that would have ended the three-week-long walkout, the Philadelphia Tribune reported on Wednesday.

“The strike continues,” the union said on its Facebook page. 

In a statement, the university’s Chief Operating Officer Ken Kaiser said the deal offered to the union raises wages and provides a  one-time payment to every TUGSA-covered graduate student of $1,000 and increases to minima in each of the next three academic years of 5%, 2.5% and 2.25%, respectively.

“The agreement maintained free health coverage for graduate students and provided enhancements in benefits such as bereavement and parental leave,” Kaiser continued. “Finally, the agreement also provided retroactive healthcare subsidies, tuition remission and pay for striking students.”

Without an agreement in place, the striking students remained on the picket line. One of four, state-related universities, Temple received a $158.2 million appropriation in the 2022-23 state budget. 

The breakdown in talks came the same week that students, faculty, and community members are mourning the death of Temple University Police Officer Christopher Fitzgerald who was shot and killed in an area neighboring Temple’s main campus last Saturday. 

“We’re gonna be on strike for as long as it takes and the timeline is up to the university,” TUGSA Staff Organizer and Ph.D. student Matt Ford told the Capital-Star. “We’ve been in negotiations for over a year. We are not out here striking for fun, or because it’s the thing we feel like doing. We’re doing this because the university has left us with no choice.”

Ford and his peers said they view the work stoppage as a chance for students to stand up to the administration and emphasize the need for money and funding to be put back into the classrooms. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Michala Butler
Michala Butler

Correspondent Michala Butler covers Philadelphia for the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.