GAU Bargaining Blog Update #7: Keep those TA's Rollin'

Greetings from the negotiating table, brothers and sisters!

We are happy to report that today’s negotiating session made significant progress on multiple proposals. Read on for the details.

Yesterday, we covered a series of counter proposals that focused on providing all Grad Assistants with clear information about our assistantship when we initially receive our offer letters. More specifically, we discussed what belongs in your offer letter, job descriptions so you know what you are expected to do as a Grad Assistant before you’re in the classroom, lab, or field, who you should be able to turn to with employment-related questions before you start your assistantship, and how far in advance you should be notified that you have secured a job. We also began discussing offering Grad Assistants who do not have or want to drive to campus bus passes in lieu of parking passes. We will continue to discuss this in subsequent sessions.

The council met many of our needs  outright, and on the other points, there was more than enough room to engage in fruitful discussions.

Offer Letters

The Council agreed that our offer letters should universally meet some basic informative criteria, and we signed a tentative agreement on what that criteria should be. First and foremost, our offer letter should come in a timely fashion. We agreed that every effort should be made to provide offer letters at least one month in advance of the start of the semester, and if you are the instructor of record, you should know you have the position at least three months in advance.  Those offer letters should include a point of contact in your department that you can call for questions about your assistantship, a link to our current union contract, information on your health insurance, and tuition and fee information, among other things.

Job Descriptions

Your offer letter should also include a clear job description so you know what it is you’re signing up for. You wouldn’t believe how many people receive a “description of duties” page that is entirely blank. We agreed that that page must have a number of important pieces of information, and are close to an agreement on the details that should be included. Stay tuned.

Who is your Supervisor’s Supervisor?

Who is in charge of graduate programing in your department? After much back and forth, the council agreed to include a definition for the title of graduate program director. We’ve been looking for a definition for the person in your department who heads up your graduate program, as they are the person you’d go to if you needed to go “above” your immediate supervisor.

Bus Passes for Grad Assistants

We’re sure you’ve heard that undergrads who do not bring a car to campus get a free RIPTA U-Pass. What are we, chopped liver? Not all of us drive, and some of us would prefer not to. Given URI’s efforts to go green and reduce our carbon footprint, it only makes sense to extend this benefit to our members who do not want to drive to campus. Not to mention, we have to use RIPTA ($2 a pop!) to get from campus to Grad Village. This information was entirely new to the Council, and we’re hoping to explore this more deeply in future sessions.

Our next session will be on Wednesday (twice this week!), January 8, 2019 for three hours. Send pizza!

In Solidarity,
GAU Negotiating Committee