We have been working very hard to get you the contract that you deserve, and we wanted to let you know where we are and what has changed. If you attend today’s General Membership Meeting, Wednesday 6:00 PM at 108 Friedman Hall, you’ll also get a chance to hear from our bargaining team members, so come by if you can.
As you know, we are in the middle of a national debate over our status in the university: whether we are workers or students. We believe that Graduate Student Employees work hard for the university, and that we should be recognized as such. To that end, we are making sure that our contract gives us rights and protections regarding our work at Brown. Yesterday, we reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) on our Appointments and Assignments Proposal, which requires departments to describe specific duties for assignments, delineate reasonable workload expectations, delimit class sizes, and deliver professional feedback and support for Graduate Student Employees. We also included a means of addressing discrepancies and concerns to the administration, so that we have a way to resolve issues when things are not working for us. This agreement took months of negotiation, and it was very hard won. We feel that we had to fight hard to have some control over our labor, but are optimistic that these changes will clarify and improve our working conditions for years to come.
Unfortunately, we are afraid the fight over our economic proposals may be even more difficult. As of now, the university seems unwilling to invest in areas that we think are fundamental to improving our quality of life, including vision insurance, lower mental health costs, increased parental support, and year-round salary. It seems that the administration is hoping that things remain the same as they are, save for some minimal and routine improvements on their terms. We are not satisfied with the status quo, and we will not settle for anything less than what we deserve. In the next few months, we promise to press on in the struggle to secure a better paycheck and benefits that reflect the value of our work. We truly believe that we can win this thing, and we will keep fighting the good fight until we do!