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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Graduate Assistants United negotiates contracts

Ioannis Ziogas challenged UF administrators to imagine taking care of a child on a graduate assistant’s salary — a salary he says is below the poverty level.

Ziogas, a political science graduate assistant, is a member of the UF Graduate Assistants United labor union, which met with three UF administrators Wednesday to discuss this year’s contract negotiations.

The group hopes to make graduate assistants’ wages flat and their fees percentage-based.

While the graduate assistants argued that they and their peers are paid below the poverty level, Bill Connellan, chief negotiator for UF, said they are part-time workers and usually are only working during the academic year.

"I don’t buy that argument," Connellan said of GAU’s claim that graduate assistants live in poverty.

He said the GAU can confuse the public about what UF graduate assistants’ pay is like.

But anthropology graduate assistant Venetia Ponds said she doesn’t think GAU is misleading anyone.

If UF wants to be a top-10 university, Ponds said the university has to pay graduate assistants like top-tier schools do.

However, Connellan said he appreciated GAU’s creativity at addressing the wage and fee situations.

He said he’d work to give two or three good offers for pay, instead of many revisions to the current contracts.

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