USC Graduate School
Bargaining Update 9/28
Negotiations between USC and GSWOC-UAW, the union representing USC’s graduate student workers continue to move forward productively and at a good tempo. Our last bargaining session on September 26 was our thirteenth meeting since bargaining began in mid-April.
Topics for this session included a proposal from USC to set up a fund supporting immigration expenses for graduate student workers who fall out of visa status during the time of their appointment at USC. On the topic of Union Access, the union indicated that it would like non-student union representatives to have access to campus buildings without advance notice. As the university is not comfortable with this arrangement, we will continue to discuss the issue in additional sessions. The parties also reached another Tentative Agreement on remitting all Mandatory University fees for graduate student workers, which represents our sixteenth tentative agreement to date.
The parties had a productive working session on September 18 to discuss the important topic of non-discrimination during which the University was able to explain its robust policies and processes for preventing discrimination and harassment.
We also continue to study and evaluate our economic counter in response to the union’s opening demand. This demand, which was presented to us for the first time just last month, proposed stipend and percentage increases that are significantly out of line with what peer institutions pay or have committed to pay their graduate student workers. By way of example, the union proposed a minimum stipend of $50,000 (for a 50% appointment) with potential year over year increases of between 18 and 20 percent. Despite this demand being a clear outlier relative to other universities, including all of those with recently-ratified graduate student worker contracts, the university is committed to a thoughtful analysis prior to making its response. We look forward to providing a counter that considers both the needs of our graduate student workers and also the long-term health of PhD education at USC.
The university remains proud of the competitive package it offers its PhD students, with stipends that are already higher than many of our peers, including those institutions with newly ratified union contracts. We also offer benefits that many of our peer institutions do not offer, such as guaranteed funding for four or five years (depending on program); guaranteed remission of all tuition for full-time PhD students; and paid, semester-long parental and health leaves that are best in class. In addition to our existing package, new agreements to remit Mandatory University Fees (including the new Transportation Fee), and our proposal to support immigration expenses for international students who fall out of status, indicate our sincere desire to reach an agreement that provides an attractive and competitive package to USC graduate students.
We look forward to discussing these and other benefits in future sessions.