Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Temple University Graduate Students Vote to Unionize

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Temple University Graduate Students Vote to Unionize

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA

Graduate students at Temple University voted overwhelmingly to unionize in the first election of its kind in Pennsylvania.

The students, who work as teaching and research assistants, voted 290-16 last month to be represented by the Temple University Graduate Students Association, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

The union can now begin contract negotiations with the Temple administration. The union wants better pay, enhanced health care coverage and a lighter workload for its members. Most assistants make $11,000 per year, the union says.

"This of course confirms the support we've had all along, that we knew was there," says union organizer Rob Calahan, a Temple teaching assistant and doctoral candidate in English literature. "It gives us a mandate to go to the table and negotiate a strong contract for the folks who teach and conduct research here at the university."

The election was made possible by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB), which ruled in favor of the union last October.

In legal arguments opposing the election, the state-supported university had contended that graduate students did not have the same right as other workers to unionize because their jobs are part of their education. …

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