The Lead

Temple, striking grad students reach second tentative agreement to end walkout

By: - March 10, 2023 11:10 am
Protesters gather at the Temple University bell tower during rally on Thursday 2/2/23 (Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler).

Officials at Temple University and striking graduate students have reached another tentative agreement to end a more than month-old work stoppage.

In a Thursday email, leaders of the Temple University Graduate Students Association announced that they had endorsed the university’s offer, and said a vote would be held “in the coming days.” The deal was slated to be placed before the union’s 750 members on Friday, with results coming by Monday, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In their email, union leaders said they had decided to unanimously endorse the deal because “it addresses our core demands of increased wages, more affordable dependent healthcare, reasonable leave policies, and better working conditions.”

Last month, the union rejected an offer from the university, vowing to remain on strike until it reached an equitable deal.

In a Twitter thread, union leaders said they had reached a “significant initial bump and raises in subsequent years over the life of the contract. We also eliminated the unequal pay-tier system: all TAs/RAs will receive the same pay regardless of their academic discipline.

Negotiators said they also won a partial subsidy for dependent healthcare; necessary increases to paid parental and bereavement leave, including specific allowances for international travel, and had obtained new language in the grievance procedure that strengthened the union’s “ability to organize and defend its members from overwork, discrimination, and harassment.”

In a Tuesday statement, Temple Chief Operating Officer Ken Kaiser described the efforts to resolve the work stoppage as “immensely challenging.”

“Together, we have had to navigate through a work stoppage that distracts from the university’s larger mission of educating our students and serving the Temple and North Philadelphia communities,” Kaiser continued. “We recognize the impact this has had on our community, and we thank you all for continuing to demonstrate amazing patience, flexibility and resilience.”

One of four, state-related universities, Temple received a $158.2 million appropriation in the 2022-23 state budget.

“We are ready to see our graduate students get back to doing what they do best, which is teaching and mentoring our students while also conducting innovative, industry-leading research,” Temple spokesperson Deirdre Childress Hopkins told the Inquirer. “TUGSA will present the agreement to its membership for ratification … and we are optimistic that it will be accepted.”

In a statement, Dan Bauder, the president of the Philadelphia branch of the AFL-CIO, said he was “thrilled” the striking students had reached an agreement to end the more than six-week-old walkout.

“It’s an incredibly difficult decision to go on strike. Workers risk retaliation and intimidation with no promise of a win at the end,” Bauder said. “These workers stood together through all these things and worse and because of their strength and solidarity, have a fair contract that shows that the university’s administration respects them and the work they do.”

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.