After six-week strike, Temple reaches tentative deal with grad student union

The deal comes after a six-week strike and includes movement on many of the key issues that led the union to walk off the job.

Temple University graduate students rally for better wages.

Temple University graduate students rally for better wages.(Emma Lee/WHYY)

Members of the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association have reached a second tentative deal with the university, one that the union supports this time around.

The union representing about 750 graduate teaching assistants and research assistants went on strike at the end of January. The school had reached what it thought was a deal back on Feb. 18, but that was rejected by union members.

Now, six weeks after walking out of the classroom, a second tentative deal has been reached. In posts on social media, the union said the agreement includes “a significant initial bump and raises in subsequent years over the life of the contract.” The post says the union won “material gains on every major issue” that led to the strike.

School leaders are also happy with the agreement. “I think it’s a fair deal for the graduate students and for Temple University alike,” said Ken Kaiser, Temple’s senior vice president and COO. “The agreement is a four year agreement that sees the minimum for all the graduate students go up to $24,000, and all minimums will now be a single rate rather than three different rates based on your school or college. So we’re consolidating. There also includes a one time $500 payment for all the members.”

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The union touted the deal’s elimination of the “unequal pay-tier system,” under which some union members were paid more depending on their academic discipline.

A partial subsidy for dependent health care is also part of the deal, according to the union, which they say is the first in 20 years.

The union says the deal also provides necessary increases to paid parental and bereavement leave, and includes specific allowances for international travel.

In a statement posted online, Philadelphia AFL-CIO president Danny Bauder praised the students for their strike and congratulated them on the deal. “Because of their strength and solidarity, [they] have a fair contract that shows the university’s administration respect for them and the work they do,” Bauder said. “They have won a great contract with historic victories on their demands of a living wage, dependent health care, and parental leave.

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Union members will vote on the new deal over the next several days.”

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