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Temple University is withholding tuition benefits for striking graduate students : NPR



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Graduate college students working at Temple College went on strike for higher pay and advantages on Jan. 31, after over a 12 months of drawn-out contract negotiations.

Stanley Collins/TUGSA

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Stanley Collins/TUGSA

Graduate college students working at Temple College went on strike for higher pay and advantages on Jan. 31, after over a 12 months of drawn-out contract negotiations.

Stanley Collins/TUGSA

Temple College is withholding tuition and well being care advantages for greater than 100 working graduate college students who’re on strike for higher pay.

Some analysis and educating assistants on the public college in Philadelphia acquired an electronic mail discover on Wednesday that their tuition remission had been revoked for the spring semester, “because of your participation within the [Temple University Graduate Students’ Association union] strike.” Tuition remission, a profit supplied by many colleges to assist finance staff’ tuition prices, covers a median of $20,000 at Temple, according to the university.

Temple is now requiring the graduate college students to pay their tuition stability by March 9 to remain enrolled in courses, or else accrue a $100 late charge.

“Employers threatening to chop off advantages shouldn’t be unusual, however truly doing it’s,” mentioned Bethany Kosmicki, a member of the negotiating committee and a former president of TUGSA. “I used to be very, very disillusioned to see that Temple is constant these union-busting ways moderately than sitting down and negotiating for a contract with us.”

Graduate college students took to the picket strains on Jan. 31, after over a 12 months of stalled negotiations between Temple and the graduate pupil union. The union is accusing the varsity of paying wages that fail to cowl Philadelphia’s price of residing. TUGSA has not responded to NPR’s emails and direct messages.

Temple mentioned in a press release on Thursday that college students had been warned that collaborating within the strike and never displaying as much as work would trigger them to lose their full compensation package deal, which incorporates tuition help and free well being care insurance coverage. Beneath Pennsylvania regulation, the employees who refuse to work will not be entitled to compensation and work-related advantages, the college mentioned.

Temple mentioned that about 20% of union-affiliated graduate college students have misplaced their advantages after occurring strike, with the bulk remaining on the job.

Kosmicki advised NPR the variety of college students on strike is a minimum of twice the quantity Temple is reporting.

Prior to now couple of days, she mentioned, anger over the advantages cuts has spurred extra folks to affix the picket line.

The union, which represents about 750 TAs and RAs, is proposing an annual base wage of $32,800, up from the present $19,500 common wage graduate college students obtain. Temple’s proposal raises the bottom wage for graduate staff to $22,500 by 2026, in keeping with TUGSA.

Union members are additionally calling for expanded parental go away, past the present 5 days allotted, in addition to inexpensive household well being care, which they are saying can price as much as 86% of their salaries.

“I’ve by no means identified a 12 months of grad college the place I have not needed to take out some type of debt to have the ability to help myself close by,” mentioned Kosmicki, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology. “I fear about issues like with the ability to afford fundamental requirements, with the ability to afford my medical payments.”

Temple mentioned that college students who return to work can get their advantages restored instantly.

“Returning to work doesn’t imply people can’t picket or voice their issues,” college Communications Director Stephen Orbanek mentioned in a press release to NPR. “It simply means they have to work to earn compensation and advantages, like anybody else.”

Critics are calling the transfer a brazen tactic meant to dismantle union efforts.

“This retaliation tactic by Temple is unacceptable,” Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in a tweet. “The suitable to prepare—and to strike—is foundational in a democracy.”

Philadelphia’s metropolis council on Thursday passed a resolution in help of TUGSA’s calls for.

The employees at Temple are the most recent in a current wave of labor protests by grad college students who’ve gone on strike for higher pay and dealing circumstances, together with at Harvard and University of California campuses.