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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Graduate Assistants United tentatively agrees to UF counterproposal in paid family leave bargaining

GAU’s proposal for 8 weeks of paid family leave close to approval

<p>Graduate assistants gather at Cypress and Grove Brewery to celebrate at a “payday party” Friday, Sept. 9, 2022.</p>

Graduate assistants gather at Cypress and Grove Brewery to celebrate at a “payday party” Friday, Sept. 9, 2022.

UF Graduate Assistants United and the university negotiating team have entered a tentative agreement on giving graduate assistants eight weeks of paid family leave, pending a signature from all parties. 

Negotiations have been open since September. The two groups met via Zoom Monday for the final bargaining session about the graduate assistant contract’s Article 8, which addresses what kinds of leave graduate assistants can take. 

Currently, the article allows for five days of paid leave for any reason and six weeks of unpaid family leave. 

The session began at 2 p.m. and lasted about an hour. The members of the UF negotiating team  — Ryan Fuller, Brook Mercier, Judy Traveis and Tom Kelleher — presented their Article 8 counterproposal. During the previous Sept. 24 bargaining session, the UF team had discussed making paid family leave a pilot program — meaning the article would be flexible to changes if any financial problems related to paid family leave arise for the university.  

However, the counterproposal didn’t include any language related to a pilot program. Fuller clarified the discussions were solely conceptual, he said. 

In the counterproposal, language changed from “spouse, domestic partner, mother, father, sister, brother, child, legal dependent or a relative living in the graduate assistant’s household,” to be “‘immediate family members.”  

The new definition would include spouse, parents and children, Ryan Fuller said. 

During the session, GAU bargaining chair Amanda Markee said the definition of “immediate family members” should at least include siblings specifically. 

The UF team deliberated in a separate Zoom meeting for about half an hour. Afterward, Fuller said they would add sisters and brothers to the language. 

On behalf of GAU, Markee said the union tentatively agreed to Article 8 and its changes. This means the bargaining session will likely be the last, and there won’t be more counterproposals. 

“I think we’re all on the same page,” she said. 

Graduate assistants can take eight weeks of paid family leave starting 2023 as soon as the article is signed by GAU Co-Presidents, Rachel Hartnett and Bryn Taylor, and the UF Board of Trustees. It’s unclear when that might happen as of Wednesday morning.  

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Siena Duncan

Siena Duncan is a sophomore journalism major and the graduate school beat reporter for the Alligator. When she's not out reporting, she's typically bothering her friends about podcasts or listening to Metric on repeat. 

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