Fresh off the labor strike at the University of California among graduate student workers, Temple University workers officially went on strike last Tuesday. These workers are teaching assistants and research assistants at the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based university and had initially voted to go on strike in November.
The Temple University Graduate Student Association (TUGSA) has various demands, such as a higher “living wage,” more options for “healthcare for dependents and families,” additional leave time for parents and bereavement, and the catch-all phrase “better working conditions.”
Currently, graduate students at Temple make around $19,500 per year, but the union demanded a raise of 68% to reach a $32,800 base salary. The union also demanded over five days of parental leave (as five days is the current parental leave policy), lamented the expensive cost of adding dependents to healthcare plans, and criticized the “widespread overwork” of workers.
On Twitter, the TUGSA announced the strike and said, “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?”
The graduate worker union boasted that they had the support of other powerful unions, such as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and AFL-CIO, and used the social media hashtags #TUGSAstrike and #TempleUnionMade to push their narrative. The union asked for donations to their strike fund, whose purpose is to fund the expenses for striking workers.
Meanwhile, Temple University’s administration had not published a public statement on the strike. Its last public statement in November said that the university was confident that it could maintain the “quality and continuity” of classes during a strike.
Other graduate student workers across the country are also protested their current pay and benefits. Workers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor echoed similar demands to the university administration without officially going on strike, and then there was the University of California strike that spanned almost two months.