Graduate Assistants United will be getting their salary raise after months of negotiations with UF.
The agreement went into effect Friday, UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said. Graduate assistants will get a $430 raise, plus $50 in fee reliefs. This is a 2.5 percent average increase in their salaries.
Sikes said this is the maximum raise graduate assistants will receive, but it will be up to supervisors of graduate assistants to decide how much they will get.
The money for the raises came from state performance funding, which the state gives to high-performing universities, Sikes said.
“It’s important that we have competitive salaries,” she said. “We want the best students and faculty.”
Ioannis Ziogas, the bargaining chair for GAU, said he was happy with the results of negotiations.
“We took this deal, and we’re pretty satisfied given the context,” said Ziogas, a UF political science doctoral student.
One of GAU’s main goals was to minimize the impact of fees graduate assistants must pay, he said. Some complete research or teach instead of taking classes, but they still have to pay the fees, the 35-year-old said. The fee is about $1,400 for two semesters.
“For us, it’s an employment tax,” he said. “For those people at the bottom, this is a huge percent of their income.”
Ziogas said GAU initially wanted a raise proportional to the salaries graduate assistants were making. That way, more money would be given to those who made less.
“We did not ask for more money than what the university was offering,” he said.
The proportional raises were rejected by UF, and UF proposed giving all graduate assistants the same amount in raises, Ziogas said. The negotiations have lasted since August and included talks with Joe Glover, the UF provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. Glover could not be reached for comment.
Alec Dinnin, GAU co-president, said although the agreement was not perfect, it was a step in the right direction. GAU plans to continue pushing for raises when negotiations open up again in the summer.
“We still have graduate assistants here that are struggling to get by,” said Dinnin, a UF political science doctoral student. “As long as that’s the case, we’ll definitely be pushing for stipends to increase.”
GAU was willing to accept the percentage salary raise to help those who make the least, the 27-year-old said.
“That in itself is a win,” Dinnin said.