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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Berkeley Faculty Association Calls for Increased Support of Grad Student Employees

By Colleen Lye and James Vernon (Co-Chairs, Berkeley Faculty Association)

At the end of September, the current 3 year-contract of UAW 2865 representing UC Academic Student Employees (GSIs, readers and tutors) expired and ASEs are now working without a contract. UCOP Labor Relations and UAW 2865 have not yet reached an official “impasse.” But the Berkeley Faculty Association is concerned that UCOP’s last offer of a 2% rise doesn’t come close to eliminating the gap with our comparator institutions, based on a 2010 UCOP survey.  Currently the 10-month (49.5%) GSI stipend is $17,655 for an incoming student, though our campus financial aid office estimates that $21,608 is required to cover the cost of living for 9 months while the campus desired target for doctoral students is $26,000. The Report of the Taskforce on Competitiveness in Academic Graduate Student Support, adopted by UC Academic Council in June 2012, declared “rising tuition and uncompetitive stipends threaten to seriously undermine program quality” and asks that additional resources be allocated for net stipends for academic doctoral support.  On the discussion agenda of the Regents meeting this week, a report from the Committee on Educational Policy restates the situation: “It has become more difficult for UC departments and faculty to offer competitive financial support for their doctoral students.

In letters sent up to UCOP on September 16 and October 3, 33Department Chairs at Berkeley and 21 Chairs at San Diego asked the University to raise the GSI base wage so as to enable our PhD programs to stay competitive, citing the unsustainable practice of having to top up students' support from scarce and unpredictable resources.
Please lend your voice as a UC faculty member by signing this petition, which will be sent to Director of UCOP Labor Relations Peter Chester.


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