The Washington Post

Temple University students end strike

- — Danielle Douglas-gabriel

Teaching and research assistants at Temple University have approved a four-year contract following more than a year of negotiatio­ns with the administra­tion and a six-week strike.

The strike drew headlines last month when the public university in Philadelph­ia withdrew tuition assistance and health care for more than 100 graduate students who were on the picket line. Under the new deal, those benefits have been restored.

The Temple University Graduate Students’ Associatio­n voted 344-8 to ratify the contract on Monday, days after reaching a tentative agreement with the university and weeks after members rejected a previous proposal. The union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, represents about 750 graduate teaching and research assistants.

The contract will up the minimum pay for most graduate students from the current $20,700 average pay to $24,000 in the first year of the deal and to $27,000 by the fourth, a 30 percent increase over the life of the contract. Other graduate students on the lower end of the wage scale will see a pay bump closer to 40 percent. The deal also eliminates a tiered wage system based on discipline­s, creating more pay equity, said Matt Ford, 36, a lead negotiator for the graduate students associatio­n.

Temple has also agreed to cover 25 percent of health insurance premiums for graduate student workers’ dependents and provide 21 days of parental leave and four days of paid bereavemen­t leave. Graduate students will also receive a $500 one-time bonus.

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