Parking Grievance Update
We’re happy to announce that the parking services website now correctly indicates that full-time Graduate Assistants receive a full fee waiver for a commuter parking pass, as guaranteed by your contract. Grad Assistants living at Graduate Village will once again be responsible for paying the difference between the cost of a commuter pass and a resident pass ($80). While Parking Services isn’t selling passes for the academic year yet, once passes are made available you should not be asked to pay a penny towards a commuter pass.
Reflecting on Tuesday’s Rally
The GAU negotiating team (Melissa, Ashton, Danielle and Liz) would like to express their sincere gratitude to many of you for your support in Roosevelt outside of the negotiation room on Tuesday. We were covered by the Providence Journal, WPRI and The Boston Globe. As a wise GAU member said on our Facebook page, “Direct action gets the goods.” We couldn’t agree more.
For those of you unable to make it to the rally, Eddy Fava has written a fantastic piece describing the events from that day. Additionally, please check out our bargaining update to learn about how the negotiating session went once the door was closed.
The next time we have a rally it will be during the semester when everyone is on campus. If everyone brings a colleague or two, just imagine what we could accomplish.
Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.
P.S. We’re still looking for that special someone or two to join the negotiating team. If you are interested and would like to be considered for the team, please send us an email ASAP.
On Tuesday I had the privilege of standing in solidarity with a number of GAU members along with members of the URI faculty and maintenance unions as we rallied in support of a new contract for URI’s Graduate Assistants. Since August 31 of last year, the Graduate Assistants of URI have been working under a continuing contract. Under this old contract we have no dental or vision benefits, no guaranteed funding for our full program of study, little relief from burdensome student fees and ambiguous language regarding parking fees and off-campus employment. Today’s rally and march was to let the administration know that even during summer we are a unified group that will speak up for our rights and will insist on being treated as integral members of the university as both students and employees.
We began the day’s action with a rally at Swan Hall where we discussed our goals and prepared to visit strategic points within the campus. At approximately 1 pm a group of about 25 union members and supporters set out, signs in hand, to Roosevelt Hall where we would line the hall to the negotiating room. Along the way we chanted the slogans, “What do we want? A fair contract! When do we want it? Now!” and, “Respect the old one! Give us a new one!” As we stood in the hallway we greeted the administration’s negotiating team with a mixture of “hellos” and solemn silence. The Dean of the Graduate School, Nasser Zawia even stopped to take some photos, appearing impressed with our presence.
From there we continued our rally, marching to Parking Services. One of the original purposes of our action was to protest Parking Services attempting to charge commuting Graduate Assistants a fee for parking. This had been the third year in a row that Parking Services had attempted to collect revenue from Graduate Assistants and the third year in a row we needed to file a grievance for a breach of contract. Thankfully our grievance yielded results earlier in the day. This allowed us to thank the staff at Parking Services instead of our having to voice our continued opposition to the unfair imposition of fees that violate our contract. While this does not diminish the need to fight the other fees the administration continues to burden Graduate Assistants with, it does demonstrate our power to hold them accountable and honor our current, albeit expired, contract.
Finally we marched and chanted our way to the house of the President and then to his office. This was largely symbolic as President Dooley is currently in China. We were able to greet his secretary and leave dual messages of thanks for resolving the parking fee dispute and to implore the university to do its part to help contract negotiations come to a mutually agreeable conclusion quickly.
Everyone in attendance added to the success of our rally. We were loud, respectful and present. Once school starts again our numbers will grow and these actions will take on additional force. It is important that we let not only the administration, but our fellow Graduate Assistants, staff and faculty allies, and the greater URI community know that we are asking for a fair deal and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Our current contract, in many ways, fails to do that. By demanding what we know is right and just, we are standing up not only for ourselves, but everyone else who will need to demand fair and respectful treatment.
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