Let us start by saying a huge THANK YOU to everyone who showed up Tuesday to show their support in the hallway outside the negotiating room. It was a great visual for the Administration to see how much each of you care about getting the contract we deserve in a timely manner. Your support was taken to heart by the negotiating team, and helped us to fight especially hard to make sure the Administration heard your needs loud and clear at the bargaining table. Check out the post by Eddy below for more information on the Rally.
We covered three topics (all of which have been discussed in previous sessions) during negotiations on Tuesday: parking fees, external employment, and student fees.
As you might have expected, we spent half of the session discussing a myriad of parking-related issues, including partial parking fee waivers for part-time assistants, streamlining the process for reimbursements, and making campus more accessible for those at Grad Village. We discovered the Administration does not intend to discuss anything related to our parking fee waiver until financials are on the table. Traditionally, non-financial issues are addressed and (hopefully) resolved before financial issues are considered. We will continue all of these discussions during our next session when a representative from parking services will hopefully be present to inform us of the University’s overall plans for parking in Kingston.
We are happy to report that we may have made some progress on external employment. You may recall that in previous sessions the Administration acknowledged our right to have a second, off-campus job for all GAs who are eligible to work outside of the University. However, the Administration’s negotiating team has been hesitant to include protection for this right in our contract. Today, both sides agreed that cleaning up the current language on this topic in the Graduate School Manual and removing the reference to the Swan Memo in our contract could offer an acceptable path forward. Our contract could then cite the Graduate School Manual. This proposed solution would ensure that both GAs and faculty have information on the proper policies regarding external employment available to them. We will be looking over these language changes during our next session.
Last session we discussed the potential for an in-house payment plan (without an enrollment fee) for student fees. This would give you a practical option for paying your fees over the semester instead of being on the hook for the whole bill all at once. It looks like this option may be available as early as this Fall. A representative from enrollment services has been invited to our next negotiating session to provide us with more information. We hope to be able to pass along the details about enrolling in the payment plan after that session.
Our next session is Tuesday, September 1st at 1:30 pm. We are still looking for an additional member to join the GAU negotiating team. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining us at the negotiating table.
Your Negotiating Team
Melissa Burger, Ashton Foley, Danielle Dirocco, and Elizabeth Brannon