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No raises for TAs in regents' proposal

BY ARIANA WITT | NOVEMBER 16, 2010 7:20 AM

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It remains unclear if University of Iowa graduate students will get the raise they're hoping for.

The Campaign to Organize Graduate Students and UI officials won't sign contracts until March, but it was evident Monday night the two groups have different priorities.

COGS asked for a 4 percent raise at its proposal meeting Nov. 1. With that increase, UI teaching and research assistants would earn an annual salary of $17,238 for an academic appointment during the 2011-12 year. Another 4 percent raise would have been added for the 2012-13 year.

UI Graduate College officials and the state Board of Regents did not mention a raise</a> at a contract proposal exchange with COGS on Monday.

"I expected it because we know they don't have a budget yet," said Kari Thompson, the active president for COGS.

The uncertainty of state appropriations and because the regents have delayed tuition discussions until February affected the decision to not include a raise proposal at this time, said Tom Evans, the regents' general counsel and spokesman for the UI and regent bargaining team.

"Not having an idea of what we're up against makes it hard to come up with any financial plan," said John Keller, the dean of the UI Graduate College.

While officials were hesitant to make any financial offers, they focused on academics.

Regents and UI graduate college officials did manage to reach a decision on a possible cap being placed on the number of teaching or research assistant appointments a graduate student may take while at the UI.

Officials proposed students will not be eligible for appointments after eight years in the doctoral program.

"We think this will lead to a healthy graduate program and make sure students are paying most of their attention to the academic process," Keller said.

But the cap on appointments is not the best way to push students toward earning a degree, said Thompson, and the proposal will affect a small number of graduate students.

Thompson said she does feel a great number of students will be affected by the decision to not formally state 100 percent tuition and fee coverage in the regents' proposed contract.

The proposal stated that all appointed teaching and research assistants will receive $3,625 of a tuition scholarship each semester for the 2011-12 and the 2012-13 academic years. Thompson said this does not cover all UI graduate-student employees.

"This only covers those in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences," Thompson said. "This is exactly the reason we want it to state 100 percent because tuition isn't the same across colleges, and we have to think about not only this year but the next year."

But Keller said, without knowledge of what regents will do with tuition, it's economically safer to state tuition coverage in terms of dollars and not percentages.

Regents also introduced a three-tier health-insurance plan for COGS members. Through the UI GRADCare Plan, students would be able to use their health insurance across the state, Evans said, as opposed to the current limited use at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. The plan would be more similar to what UI staff and faculty have, he said.

Closed bargaining between the three organizations is slated to begin Dec. 6, Evans said. Final decisions on proposed changes to the COGS contract are due March 15.


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