Temple University Graduate Students Go On Strike, Demand ‘Living Wage’

(Screenshot/YouTube/Temple University)

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Graduate students at Temple University officially went on strike Tuesday to demand a livable wage, according to the Temple University Graduate Student Association (TUGSA) Twitter.

The union, which represents teacher and research assistants at the Pennsylvania university, demands “a living wage,” healthcare, additional leave and improved working conditions, according to the TUGSA website. The union voted in November to authorize the first strike in its history after the Pennsylvania university reportedly stopped negotiating until the union “make[s] major concessions.” (RELATED: Nearly 50,000 California University Employees Strike, Demanding Higher Pay)

As of this morning, TUGSA is on strike at @TempleUniv. After bargaining for over a year, Temple still refuses to meet our demands of a living wage, dependent healthcare, longer leave, and better working conditions. We’re ready to bargain: is admin? #TUGSAstrike #TempleUnionMade

— TUGSA (@TUGSA_6290) January 31, 2023

Graduate students make on average nearly $19,500 per year, according to the TUGSA website. The students demand the university boost compensation to $32,800 to meet the cost of living in Philadelphia — which was reportedly calculated in 2021 when negotiations began using the MIT Living Wage Calculator.

“Graduate employees should be able to live in the city where they work,” the union wrote on its website.

The university, however, said on its website that graduate students work approximately 20 hours per week for nine months and are considered part-time employees at the university. Graduate student compensation equates to $25 per hour, according to the website — which is dedicated to answering questions about the strike.

Temple said that it “already offered a raise in wages and have told union leadership that it is not our final offer” and that students are given $20,000 in free graduate-education annually.

“It bears repeating that graduate student employees with a full appointment do not pay for their healthcare benefits. They are the only employees within the entire university system that make no payment toward their healthcare coverage,” the website reads.

Students who choose to participate in the strike will not be paid and lose health and tuition coverage, according to the university.

The union also demands “healthcare for dependents and families,” which it writes is “prohibitively expensive” and “a third of the total annual salary of graduate employees,” according to its website. It also asks for additional parental and bereavement leave.

It also makes a general demand for “better working conditions” geared toward reported “overwork and mismanagement of contracts and work assignments.”

“Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, and when our conditions are substandard, our students suffer,” the union website reads.

Students will continue their strike on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., according to the union’s Twitter.

TUGSA and Temple University did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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