UConn and the union representing its graduate assistants reached tentative agreement over the weekend on terms for a new four-year contract.
On Monday, the Board of Trustees approved the contract terms in a special meeting and members of GEU-UAW approved them through a vote. The contract will now go to the state General Assembly for a vote.
Graduate assistants are graduate students who provide teaching or research support to the University as part of their academic programs. They receive stipends and tuition waivers among other benefits as part of their work, which usually lasts for a period ranging from one semester to one academic year.
Negotiating teams from UConn and the Graduate Employee Union-United Auto Workers (GEU-UAW) began discussions last fall in anticipation of the current contract’s expiration on June 30, 2018. The parties reached tentative agreement early Saturday.
Almost one-third of UConn’s 7,100 graduate students, or about 2,200, are covered by the contract terms.
As with the previous agreement, the contract recognizes that academic matters involving GAs – including coursework, grading, assignments, and decisions regarding a student’s progress toward earning a degree – remain prerogatives of the University that are not governed by the contract.
This is one of five collective bargaining agreements the University negotiates. All unions at the University are covered by the SEBAC (State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition) agreement with the state, except the GEU-UAW.
The agreement with GEU-UAW does not affect the health insurance and retirement pension provisions at the heart of the SEBAC agreement. The tentative agreement with GEU-UAW contains its own health insurance provisions, but it does not include any retirement provisions.
Some specifics in the agreement, if approved, include:
- Increases of 2 percent annually for the next four years in the GAs’ stipends. The increases compare favorably to the SEBAC agreement, which provides 11 percent over five years (average of 2.2 percent per year). It also compares favorably with GA agreements at other institutions of higher education.
- Waiving an additional $100 of the General University Fee (GUF), bringing the total waived to $300 per semester. The union originally sought full waiver of all student fees.
- Allowing GAs to purchase and use Area 2 employee parking passes rather than student parking passes, as was past practice.
- A provision that specifies that although GAs will be charged on their fee bills for the Student Recreation Center once it opens, they will receive that money back in the form of a $400 lump sum payment.
- Health and dental insurance coverages that will remain the same as under the previous collective bargaining agreement. Employee contributions for individual coverage increase from $200 annually to $240 annually in the final year of the agreement.
- Additional changes in summer and intersession compensation for instructional positions to align with the adjunct pay provisions of the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) collective bargaining agreement.
- Clarity on when provisions governing time off do and don’t apply during the school year; specifics regarding bereavement leaves of absence and non-discrimination grievance and complaint procedures; and other areas.