29% raise for the boss, 0% for the workers

Friday, April 20, 2007

CBS 3: UMass Grad Students Protest Wages

UMass Grad Students Protest Wages

Story Published: Apr 19, 2007 at 7:32 PM EDT

By Anne Ebeling

Members of UMass Amherst's Graduate Employee Organization, or GEO, are tired of waiting. Made up of more than 2,500 teaching assistants, teaching associates and research assistants the organization has been bargaining with the university for fourteen weeks, without a contract resolution.

Nate Johnson, GEO's Grievance Coordinator, said, "If UMass is going to continue to attract quality graduate students, quality students, they're going to have to provide a living wage."

Graduate student, Lindsey Homann, said, "The struggle is just getting word back from administration. They stall and they wait and they wait and they won't give us proposals and we want to bargain in good faith, we wan to get this done and we want to get things settled so education on this campus can move forward."

They took their message straight to the top, marching across campus to the home of Chancellor John Lombardi. "We know that the fees are going up, the board of trustees voted to raise fee 3.2% and if we don't get a comparable wage increase, that's a pay cut to us and so that's why we're here and that's why we're marching on Lombardi," Johnson said.

While they got no answer at the chancellor's home, they got their voices heard. Johnson said, "We teach about half the classes at UMass and if you're a parent of an undergraduate thinking about UMass, you need to think about how the graduate students that are teaching your children are going to be compensated."

The University of Massachusetts declined to comment, saying it doesn't discuss contract negotiations.

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