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Student employee union bargains for new, stronger contract

The union that represents 9,000 teaching assistants, graduate assistants and instructional student assistants is bargaining for a stronger contract for better wages, more benefits, job security and protection against harassment for all academic student employees.

According to UAW 4123 President Sandip Roy, the union is bargaining to help California State University students and employees who are struggling with poverty and homelessness while they are working and going to school.

“Basically for students, it’s about the quality of their education,” Roy said. “The [GAs] and ISAs cannot do their work if they are starving and sleeping in their car. If you’re sleeping in your car one night, how awake are you going to be at 6:30 in the morning when you’re teaching a lab? As for the faculty members, we look up to them and they all went through the same struggle.”

Contract negotiations are ongoing, according to Toni Molle, director of public affairs at the California State University Office of the Chancellor. She stated that the union’s current collective bargaining agreement will expire at the end of the month.

The specific protections and wage increases they demand are changes to Article 2 of the Bargaining Agreement Unit 11. These include paid training and pedagogy classes, tuition fee waivers, union access rights and long employment appointments for academic student employees.

According to Brian Huang, a board member of UAW 4123, since the last meeting the only responses received from CSU administrators range from “stone face to negative.”

“We are going to keep trying to look at the contract and see what kind of articles we can change,” said Benjamin Deutsch, financial secretary of UAW 4123. “We’ve been in communication, but they haven’t come back with any offers.”

The CSU Board of Trustees has meetings scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in the Dumke Auditorium at the Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach. Huang believes this will present an opportunity for academic student workers and union supporters to tell the Board of Trustees that “the status quo is no longer acceptable.”

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