California State University and the Union of Auto Workers Local 4123 – which represents more than 7,000 teaching associates, graduate assistants, and instructional student assistants – have reached a tentative agreement to provide a salary increase for students who work in instruction.
This means that undergraduate tutors, graduate teaching assistants, graders and supplemental instructors will all see a wage increase if the CSU Board of Trustees votes for final approval of the bargaining agreement on Nov. 5.
Rebecca Asami, a graduate teaching assistant in Fresno State’s geology department and the head steward for UAW Local 4123 on campus, said the settlement is well-deserved for academic student employees.
“We provide a very important service,” Asami said. “We can connect with students in a way that professors sometimes can’t. So it is a contract we’re very proud of. It’s a significant win for us.”
As a part of the settlement, teaching associates and graduate assistants would experience a 1.34 percent salary increase, while tutors and graders would receive a $1 per hour increase. This would take effect for the 2013-14 school year retroactively to July 1, 2013.
In July 2014, teaching associates and graduate assistants would receive a 2-percent salary increase, while tutors and graders would get a 50 cent per hour increase. These rates would stay in effect for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.
Asami said that these salary increases are necessary, as most of these student employees work at the lowest end of the salary scale.
“The cost of living has gone up, and it’s hard for students to get jobs off campus,” she said. “It’s been harder for students to stay in school, and yet we’re not getting any pay increase. It’s nice that this is happening now. It feels good.”
James Banks, International representative for UAW Local 4123, was involved in the bargaining agreement. He agreed with Asami and said that this wage increase was overdue.
“2008 was the last time we had a pay raise,” Banks said. “Tuition has gone up since then. The average student has about $20,000 in debt in terms of student loans. This is a really big victory in terms of getting more money in our pockets to reduce our debt as student employees.”
The agreement is a three-year deal. Mike Uhlenkamp, director of media relations at the CSU Chancellor’s Office, said that this deal is important because it marks the first time since 2007 that the CSU has negotiated a multiyear salary deal with one of its unions.
“It’s a reflection of the positive, changing budget climate,” he said. “This gives union members the stability of knowing what they’re going to be earning in the next few years.”
Students who are a part of the union or work as tutors or teaching aides on campus are encouraged to attend a meeting on Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. in Professional/Human Services (PHS) Room 1110. At that time, the bargaining agreement will be reviewed and explained in detail. Student employees will be able to ask questions about their current or future work contracts.