Tag Archives: John Garamendi jr.

What, Fee Increases Aren’t Enough? – UC Tries To Stiff Graduate Students In Upcoming Contract

(Crap… What’s going on in our institutions of higher learning? – promoted by atdleft)

In their ever-continuing quest to turn California’s public higher education into a de facto private institution, the University of California, not content with jacking up graduate student tuition yet another 10% (and nearly doubling fees since 2002), is now trying to stiff TAs, readers, and research assistants in the latest series of contract negotiations by freezing fee remissions and health insurance premiums:

The UAW Local 2865 bargaining team met Monday, April 16 with university representatives to discuss changes the university would like to make to our contract.

Unfortunately, the bargaining team was alarmed by the uncooperative, antiunion tactics of the university. The university is proposing to cut a number of critical benefits and roll back several groundbreaking union victories. Not only would these cuts and rollbacks have a negative financial impact on all our members, they would also undermine the ability of UC to continue to be competitive, encourage diversity, and attract the best and brightest.

At the same time that we are proposing to expand the types of fees covered and who is eligible to receive remissions, the university is proposing to end full fee remissions for graduate-student employees, proposing instead to cap remissions. What this would mean is that whenever fees increase-which is the unfortunate trend-we would end up paying that increase out-of-pocket.

Additionally, under the current contract, many of us have our health insurance premium fully covered. Again, while we are proposing to expand the types of fees covered and who is eligible to receive remissions, the university is proposing to cap our health insurance premium remissions at a fixed dollar amount, thus transferring the rising cost of health care onto us. Given that the health plans at many campuses are already inadequate and steadily deteriorating, this proposal is unacceptable.

The university also made several proposals which would prevent teaching assistants, readers, and tutors from being informed of their rights, and which would limit our rights to express solidarity with workers in other campus unions.

The university is proposing to take us in the wrong direction. This is unacceptable. As bargaining continues, we will keep you informed of developments at the bargaining table and opportunities to participate in winning a great fourth contract.  If you have questions or would like to get more involved, please reply to this message or contact your campus office.

In solidarity,

UAW Local 2865 Bargaining Committee

This is not the first time that the university has tried this, but it is pretty bad news that they’re looking to freeze remissions while the fees continue skyrocketing this way. For most UC graduate students, fee remission and health care coverage when working for the university are the only way to make ends meet, and often their value is far greater than the actual pay that the work provides.

I have heard many fellow grad students wonder  aloud what the point of paying those union fees is. Here is my answer: the only reason why we even have health insurance and fee remissions when we work is that grad students organized and were willing to strike to make the point that the University of California does not run without our labor. The Regents do not just pay us out of the goodness of their hearts, and they will not continue to respect what gains we have negotiated in perpetuity, out of the goodness of their hearts. Only by organizing and demonstrating the value of the work that we do by being willing to deny it if need be, will we get the kind of pay and benefits that allow us to scratch out a public graduate school education.

Academic student employees are not asking for an unreasonable amount of pay or benefits here. The University of California has been utterly unreasonable in raising fees over the past several years, far beyond the rate of inflation and at the same time that executive and administration salaries and compensation have skyrocketed. This latest attempt to further wring more money out of already-indebted graduate students is unconscionable. I would hope that our elected representatives would take notice, in particular Davis’ own Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, and Lt. Governor John Garamendi, who is a Regent for the UC system (and whose son, John Garamendi, Jr., is an administrator at UC Merced, and reportedly considering challenging Lois Wolk for the 5th State Senate Seat). There are a lot of academic employees here in Yolo County, and we do vote.

If you are a grad student and interested in getting involved on any of the UC campuses, bookmark the Academic Student Employee union page. If this negotiation continues in this direction, we’re going to need as many students working together as we can to turn things around.

originally at surf putah