On Tuesday, students picketed in front of the Charles Library to show solidarity and protest for better working conditions for Graduate Students at Temple. The Temple University Graduate Student Association, also known as TUGSA, has been in contract negations with the University for the 800 TAs and RA’s they represent for nearly nine months.
One of the major concerns that TUGSA has is wages, with the organization saying that the University is falling short on.
“They’re currently barely negotiating. They’re offering us a two-percentage raise which for most people is about forty dollars a month, and that’s a two percent raise in the time of like eight to ten percent inflation,” says Laurie Robins, a TUGSA member.
Currently, 95% of all graduate workers make less than twenty thousand and over nine months. Where the average cost of living in Philadelphia in 2021 was thirty-two thousand.
“Being paid $20,000 a year makes me have to worry about my credit card bill, having to work another job instead of having to work on my syllabus or work on grading my students’ papers,” states Josh Stern, a TA at Temple.
For some members of TUGSA, like, Laura Waters, a TA at Temple, having higher wages isn’t just about paying the bills. But also, about how it affects their classrooms.
“Our working conditions are very much our students’ learning conditions, and it makes it hard to show up for them in the way that they need.”
Support for TUGSA demonstrations extended outside of campus, with Philadelphia Council Women Helen Gym also voicing her support for the association.
“If you believe that universities are supposed to be on the frontline of justice, of racial justice, of working rights, of a more educated populous, and of a foundational civic structure, you should be on this picket line.”
A university spokesperson told Temple Update that University welcomes peaceful demonstrations like on Tuesday and are hopeful that they can engage in productive conversations with TUGSA that will lead to an agreement in the near future.