Striking Temple Univ. grad students approve new contract; end 6-week strike

Negotiators said the deal, approved 344-8 on Monday, was ‘an historic achievement for our union’

By: - March 14, 2023 9:47 am
Protesters gather at the Temple University bell tower during rally on Thursday 2/2/23 (Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler).

PHILADELPHIA — Striking graduate students at Temple University have ratified a new contract, ending a six-week work stoppage.

Negotiators for the Temple University Graduate Student Association said the agreement, approved by a vote of 344-8 on Monday night, was an “historic achievement for our union.”

Temple University President Jason Wingard (Philadelphia Tribune photo).

In a statement, Temple University President Jason Wingard said the deal, which includes a pay raise and other improvements to working conditions was “evidence of our collective willingness to unite and give advice.”

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

TUGSA was asking for the current average pay to go from $19,500 a year to a proposed base wage of $32,000 which is designed to bring the graduate employee pay in line with the cost of living in Philadelphia. 

They also were looking for the ability to add two or three dependents on healthcare plans to about 58% and 86% of the annual salary, and extend Temples’ current parental leave plan from 5 days to an average 45 days.

The striking students and the university reached the deal last week, after earlier rejecting an offer from the university, the Capital-Star reported. Union leaders unanimously endorsed the agreement, and announced they’d put it before their membership for a vote. 

“With a new contract in place, we must now re-prioritize expanding access, increasing educational value, growing Temple’s thought leadership, driving greater community engagement, and elevating Temple’s global reputation,” Wingard said.

In a Twitter thread, TUGSA union leaders said “after four days of voting, membership has RATIFIED the March 9th Tentative Agreement 344-8. This ratification landslide and the gains of our new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) are a historic achievement for our union.”

“Despite unprecedented retaliation and intimidation, not to mention the cowardice and cruelty of @TempleUniv admin, we won transformative changes to our CBA that allow us to keep building and organizing in the years ahead,” the TUGSA Twitter thread concluded. 

The statement from Wingard came the same day as Temple announced the appointment of Jose Aviles as the state-related university’s new vice provost for enrollment management. Aviles comes to Temple from Louisiana State University, and will start his new position on May 1. 

Temple’s current vice president and chief operating officer, Ken Kaiser, who has been the university’ public voice during much of the labor stoppage, will leave his post on May 30.

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