Dear Members (old and new),
Welcome to URI and Graduate Assistants United. YOU are the union, and we want to hear from you. We will be holding General Assembly meetings throughout the semester so everyone’s voice is heard. Please feel free to stop by Roosevelt Hall to chat, or send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our contract negotiations survey during the last academic year. We hear you loud and clear. We will fight to secure competitive wages, reduce student fees, improve health insurance, and will address many other issues you have brought to our attention. If any of these issues have affected your life as a graduate assistant, please tell us your story here on the webpage under the Issues tab.
We are looking for departmental stewards, a rank-and-file member for the negotiation committee, and artsy people to help with graphic design to get some informational flyers out around campus. Please let us know if there are other ways you think you can help strengthen GAU. If you are interested in getting involved with the GAU or have questions regarding your assistantship, feel free to send us an email at email@example.com.
The Negotiating Committee met with the administration for a productive round of contract negotiations this week. A wide variety of issues were covered, but one particularly enlightening outcome from the conversation included clarification of the University’s stance on external employment.
Before negotiations began, GAU polled our members to determine our bargaining priorities. One of the biggest concerns of our members revolved around protecting the right for Grad Assistants to hold external employment to supplement their stipends. While we haven’t yet reached an agreement with the administration regarding what form that protection will take, the Vice Provost of Academic Finances and Academic Personnel made it explicitly clear that the University, the graduate school, faculty members and/or their departments do not have the right to restrict domestic students from seeking employment outside of the university. (Please note: International students remain restricted from seeking employment beyond what is permitted by their visa.)
The implication of this declaration by the administration is difficult to overstate. Many of you have been pressured to not seek jobs outside the University without risking your funding. A number of our members have had their assistantship withheld when it came to light that they were working a second job. Others have been told that they need to quit their second job to be eligible for an assistantship. The Vice Provost made it clear: this practice is a fundamental violation of your rights.
If you have experienced this yourself, we need to hear from you. The administration has expressed a willingness to combat this issue, though they have expressed hesitation in codifying this right in your contract. We need your help to press the administration to secure that right in writing. In the meantime, we intend to seek immediate resolution for students who feel they are being prevented from seeking additional work to help pay their living expenses. You have the right to pay your bills and to make adult decisions about how to support yourself and your family without first needing to seek permission to do so from URI.
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