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COGS wants a pay raise

BY ARIANA WITT | NOVEMBER 02, 2010 7:15 AM

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The Campaign to Organize Graduate Students at the University of Iowa presented a formal proposal to the UI Graduate College, the state of Iowa, and the state Board of Regents on Monday asking for a 4 percent raise in UI teaching and research assistant salaries.

COGS members have not seen a raise in nearly three years, said Barrett Gough, the campus chief steward for the organization. The current wage for teaching assistants and research assistants at the UI is $16,575 for an academic year, Gough said. The union also requested 100 percent tuition coverage. The group wants the 4 percent increase for both those on academic-year contracts and those on fiscal-year contracts next year. During the following year, the union would like an additional 4 percent increase.

The last raise UI teaching and research assistants received was about 1 percent, said COGS President Kari Thompson.

“Faculty and administration all have felt a modest increase in their pay,” Gough said. “We felt it’s not too much to ask at this point.”

The three groups renegoiate COGS’s union contract every two years, Thompson said. This marks their eighth negotiation.

“There was no big shock,” said John Keller, the dean of the UI Graduate College. “But it is a lot of information to digest in such a short period of time.”

When completing its proposal, COGS took into account the nearly 2 percent raise UI faculty and administration were granted in the last three years, Thompson said. Union officials also considered UI President Sally Mason’s raise of around 3.7 percent, she added.

“The graduate employees at the university perform a great deal of teaching and research and we haven’t been compensated accordingly,” Gough said.

Previously regents and the UI have used the economy as an excuse for low pay, he said.

“It’s way too early to be concerned about the economic requests,” Keller said. “We don’t know what governor will look like or the state appropriations.”

Keller added that the UI will not be assured the same level of funding for the coming years.

“The way negations usually work they wont give us every thing at first, but I’m hoping we can come to a reasonable agreement,” Thompson said.

The organization also proposed the UI Graduate College and the regents explicitly state in their mutual contract that 100 percent of tuition and fees for UI teaching and research assistants will be paid by the general education fund.

As of now, Keller said, the contract states a numerical value of $3,612 of paid tuition, around 99 percent overall.

But Gough said with tuition continually increasing, it’s possible the stated numerical value won’t always cover everything.

The regents delayed deciding about a tuition hike until March, and they are still working on what they will present to COGS, said Thomas Evans, the regents’ general counsel.

“Bargaining is a give-and-take,” Evans said. “This is just an initial proposal.”

The Graduate College and the regents will present their proposal to COGS on Nov. 15.


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