TUGSA member shares his thoughts on Temple's Tentative Agreement
Al Día reached out to Jésus Fernandéz after grad students rejected Temple's proposed contract.
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On Tuesday night, Temple University Graduate Students’ Association (TUGSA) announced members had voted to reject Temple University’s administration proposal — which was offered last Friday. With over 83% of membership voting, 92% of voters opted to keep striking.
On Twitter, the organization shared some of the terms they weren’t willing to accept. According to TUGSA, the proposal provided a minimal raise, increasing the average TA/RA’s pay to around $21,500. By the end of the contract, in 2026, the average TA/RA would be making just over $23,600.
It also didn’t offer healthcare for dependents. The institution said they would look into “more affordable plans” for dependents, but TUGSA stated they had no guarantees on when/how/or what this would entail.
“The university keeps insisting in a language that we think is profoundly mistaken,” said Jesús Fernández, a fourth-year PhD student at Temple from Spain. “A 10% raise can sound like a lot of money, but when you make less than 20K a year it amounts to almost nothing.”
AL DÍA reached out to Fernández to hear how he had been handling the situation. As an active participant in TUGSA’s movement since the beginning, he teaches Spanish courses at Temple. Although he loves the university and his peers, Fernández said he wasn’t feeling appropriately represented by the institution.
Despite being a very politically active person in Spain, Fernández wasn’t familiar with the labor movement in the United States when first arrived. However, he became quickly engaged as he felt Temple administration didn’t care about his needs. By talking with work colleagues, he realized everybody was having the same problems, and what seemed to be a personal issue, was actually a collective one.
“That means that it isn’t an individual failure on your part, something is actually not working,” he added.
Fernández said national and international TUGSA members equally thought that with this meager rise and without healthcare for their families, Temple is not delivering the kind of Collective Agreement everyone has been striking for.
Since the beginning of the strike, Fernández said he has been receiving a lot of support from students, and that he wasn’t expecting all the repercussions the case got nationally.
“I thought we would be fighting alone, so it was refreshing to receive all the support,” he added.
Fernández said they are ready to keep bargaining soon, but no dates have been set yet.
TUGSA has been on strike since Jan. 31 for better pay, healthcare for dependents and clear and transparent working conditions. Members believe Temple’s proposal wasn’t the best the institution could have offered, so the strike will continue.
“We feel re-energized by the commitment our members took with this vote; to keep the strike going and growing so we can get everybody a fair contract,” he added.