Unionized Graduate Students Secure Groundbreaking Pact

(ConservativeInsider.org) – A strike among graduate students at the University of Southern California was averted after a deal was reached between graduate students and the University. The agreed upon pact took more than six months of negotiations.

The University agreed to raise the minimum wage for some academic workers, raising their first-year salary from $35,700 to $40,000 and increasing the salaries for higher-paid workers by 4.5%, starting next year. The University also agreed to a childcare stipend for employees, as well as a semester-long leave for new parents. They also agreed to create a grievance and arbitration process for employees, as well as increased assistance for international students.

There has been an unprecedented increase in labor organizing among academic workers in the United States over the past year. Last year, nearly 50,000 academic employees at the University of California participated in a strike, leading to significant increases in pay and benefits. Their success encouraged academic employees at USC, who voted to unionize in February of this year, creating the Graduate Student Worker Organizing Committee-UAW at USC.

Many academic workers at USC reported struggling with the cost of living in Los Angeles and said their stipends were not high enough to support them. Nearly 90% of the new union members at USC reported being rent-burdened, meaning their cost of rent was more than 30% of their income, with the average cost of rent being 54% of academic workers’ income.

The vice provost and Graduate School dean, Andrew McConnell Stott, said the agreement between the University and the union was the result of good faith bargaining from the University, calling the process “respectful, professional and productive.” The University also released a statement thanking their academic employees for negotiating in good faith, as well as their commitment to the mission of the University to teach and learn.

The deal remains unfinalized, as the 3,000 USC union members will be voting on it this week, though the University seems confident that the union will accept the proposed agreement.

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