About a dozen members from the Graduate Teaching Assistants Coalition (GTAC), a union for graduate teaching assistants on campus, will head to Interim Provost Carl Lejuez’s office on Thursday afternoon to present a list of “next steps for KU improvement,” according to a press release from the organization.
GTAC plans on providing Lejuez with a list of five of its recommendations, which GTAC says “Lejuez must take to foster KU’s mission of ‘offering the highest quality undergraduate, professional and graduate programs comparable to the best obtainable anywhere in the nation’”:
A 3% increase of pay to all faculty workers and support staff workers by June 15
Opening negotiations with GTAC regarding healthcare options for graduate teaching assistants
The release of all current open records requests, and Lejuez to release a public statement to administration to cooperate with future requests for information by April 24
Creation of a GTAC grievance committee, with all members to be appointed by June 1
Restructuring the new graduate issues committee to include 50% graduate students and workers
GTAC Vice-President Neill Kennedy said in a statement graduate teaching assistants were able to negotiate a three-year series of raise through their union, but GTAs are the only non-administrative workers who received a raise this year. With an increased cost in living in Lawrence, everyone took a de facto pay cut, Kennedy said.
“Our most pressing demand right now is to increase faculty and support staff pay by 3% to help cover that pay cut. We’re not just here for our own pocketbooks — we’re here for quality undergraduate education and fair pay for our faculty and support staff, as well. We must all stand together to create positive change at our university,” Kennedy said.
The demonstration will take place during Lejuez’s office hours, which he launched last semester in an effort to be more transparent with students, staff and faculty in light of the $20 million budget cut.
In addition to submitting a list of their recommendations to Lejuez, GTAC will present 19 letters from graduate teachers, professors and undergraduates.
This is the second demonstration GTAC will be hosting this semester. The previous one took place at a budget conversation in February when members pushed for more funding to be allocated to educators.
With buyouts being offered to faculty members, GTAC communications committee member Hannah Bailey said in February the administration has made it clear they are going to depend more heavily on lecturers and adjuncts who aren't tenured to compensate for the loss in faculty.
“We are going to continue to be a presence in the conversations of what the University is prioritizing in terms of where it spends its money,” Bailey said in an interview with the Kansan in February. “That’s part of the reason why we wanted to take the action we did today to make more of a statement about our concerns.”
This is a developing story. It will be updated as more information becomes available.