by Graduate Assistants United
Graduate Assistants United (GAU) is the labor union that represents approximately 4,000 graduate assistants (GAs) at the University of Florida. This includes all of the graduate students who may teach up to half of all classes at UF any given semester and also perform valuable research for the university.
Since ratifying our first contract in 1983, GAU has made significant progress in improving workplace conditions for GAs at UF. GAU has fought for and won healthcare, yearly pay raises, and many important employee protections.
Earlier this year, GAU and UF opened negotiations on the complete CBA for GA employment. The largest, and most contentious article thus far covers the terms and conditions of GatorGradCare, the health insurance package that is offered to all GAs.
In response to attacks to the future of this program from the UF administration, GAU organized a field hospital rally at Tigert Hall on campus this past April. With over 100 GAs in attendance, as well as the press, we succeeded in showing that GAU cares about the health of its fellow GAs.
Through these efforts, GAU was able to ensure that GatorGradCare remains the viable program into the foreseeable future ,and stave off some of the the higher out-of-pocket increases the UF administration wanted to implement. We were able to negotiate down the sizeable deductible and new premiums that UF had initially proposed.
We are currently still in the bargaining process. After a delay over the summer, GAU and UF recently returned to the table to complete negotiations on the last article remaining in the contract—Article 10—which covers minimum stipends and raises for GAs. In May, GAU proposed a significant increase to minimum stipends and an $800 flat raise effective August 2017. The administration has countered with a lower, two-year raise package and no increase in minimum stipends.
GAU is committed to reducing the inequity within our unit by prioritizing gains at the very bottom. We firmly believe that these GAs should not be forced to live in poverty.
Over the last few weeks, GAU has also signed up over 160 new members as part of our recruiting efforts during new graduate student orientations. While we fight for the rights of all GAs at UF, membership in GAU is extremely important. Our strength at the bargaining table is only as strong as the number and diversity of our membership. Additionally, membership in GAU affords GAs legal representation, benefits through our partner unions (UFF/NEA/AFT), discounts at local businesses, as well as invites to members-only socials.
Lastly, GAU is an entirely volunteer run organization. All officers and committee chairs are GAs at UF themselves. If you would like to become more involved, consider joining a GAU committee! We have initiatives related to healthcare, childcare, mental health, and several others.
If you are a graduate assistant at UF, join GAU today by visiting our website. Follow our Facebook page for updates on bargaining and other GAU events. Any questions or inquires can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.