Join the Rutgers AAUP-AFT. Become part of the TA-GA Steering Committee! Dues are .60% of your salary. Non-members pay a representation fee which amounts to 85% of dues (0.51%). It costs only pennies a day to be a member.
Union Dues vs Representation Fee Chart
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Graduate student who work in the job titles "graduate assistant" and "teaching assistant" are employees who work an average of 15 hours per week for the University and have either a 12-month Calendar Year appointment or a 10-month Academic Year appointment.
Excerpts from the complete collective bargaining agreement (union-negotiated contract) that are especially relevant to teaching and graduate assistants:
Several articles relevant to TA/GAs, including Article XII
Workload protection is a significant TA/GA right that we won for the first time under the 2007-2011 contract. The union recommends that all Teaching Assistants and Graduate Assistants track hours worked and kept brief notes of the duties; e.g. office hours, meetings, preparation,email, class time, and grading as needed. Here are a couple of ways to keep track but, by all means, use whatever works best for you:
Track Hours Chart (pdf) or Excel version Track Hours Chart (xls)
Graduate student employees who have a 12-month appointment are entitled to a vacation of one month. This is established in Article XXII, "Conditions of Employment." This part of the contract refers to any employee with a 12-month appointment whose job is in the bargaining unit, so that covers a graduate student employee.
Discounted Parking Fee
For all employees in the full-time bargaining unit, parking fees are calculated as a percentage of salary earned. TAs and GAs are entitled to this discount. Read Article XIX, "Miscellaneous" in Section D.
TA-GA Frequently Asked Questions
- What does the AAUP do at Rutgers and how are TA/GAs involved?
- What has the AAUP done for TA/GAs recently?
- Do TA/GAs really need a union?
- Are there other TA/GA unions?
- What do TA/GAs do as part of the Rutgers AAUP?
- Does the AAUP represent me even if I am not a member?
- If the AAUP represents me no matter what I do, why should I bother to join?
- Can I join a union in the United States if I am here on a foreign student visa?
- How much are dues?
1. What does the AAUP-AFT do at Rutgers and how are TA/GAs involved?
TA/GAs were added to the full-time faculty bargaining unit in 1972. Rutgers is the only union in the country where full-time faculty and TA/GAs are part of the same bargaining unit. TA/GAs come together through a TA-GA Steering Committee to articulate their issues within the union, plus there is staff support for the TA-GA Steering Committee.
TA/GAs have the right to proportional representation on the Executive Council of the union based on the number of full dues-paying TA/GA members and to select TA./GA representatives to serve on the negotiating team when a contract is up for renewal.
Graduate student may also work as Part-Time Lecturers (PTLs). Since 1988, the union has also represented part-time faculty at Rutgers in a separate bargaining unit. Recently, summer and winter session instructors as well as postdoctoral associates were organized. In Summer 2011, the first contract for people who teach during the winter and summer sessions went into effect. Graduate employees obtained a substantial raise under the winter-summer teaching contract. Postdocs are the most recent group of Rutgers professional academic employees to succeed in obtaining their first contract in 2012.
The Rutgers Council of AAUP Chapters has over 6,000 members and maintains a dual identity as a professional association and a collective bargaining agent, enhancing the quality of education at Rutgers by representing member interests and protecting their rights as employees. In 2005, we added affiliation with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
2. What has the AAUP-AFT done for TA/GAs salaries recently?
We won 2% salary increases for TAs and GAs, one was applied on July 1, 2012 and the other will be applied on July 1, 2013.
In June 2011, we resolved the salary freeze issue for TAs and GAs. We reached a settlement with the Rutgers University management on the violation of the contract when McCormick and Furmanski imposed a salary freeze on Teaching and Graduate Assistants in June 2010. They agreed to begin paying a 8% salary increase going forward from July 1, 2011, which brought TAs and GAs up to the contractual minimum of $24,961 for academic year (10-month) apppointments and $28,455 for calendar year (12-month appointments. In addition, retroactive payment for year when salaries were frozen was paid. If we had not reached this settlement, there would have been no new salary increases on July 1, 2012 or July 1, 2013.
Past victories and gains
In recognition of the major contributions that teaching/graduate assistants make to undergraduate education at Rutgers, the AAUP has a history of advocacy that has improved TA/GA salaries. In 2004-2005, TA/GAs received a 10% in the first year of that contract and 8% increases in each of the final two years of that contract. Then, in the 2007-2011 contract, graduate employees received 8% increases each year untill the salary freeze was imposed in violation of our negotiated agreement in June 2010. We defended that salary increase in 2009, so the 8% increase went into effect for 2009-2010. When some graduate employees did not receive the raise in 2009, we intervenes on behalf of the whole class of affected TA/GAs and made sure that they were properly paid. This illustrates the importance of the union as a problem-solving organization that can defend the terms and conditions under the contract. Then, we won a settlement of the salary freeze for TAs and GAs in June 2011 and are working on implementation of the 8% increase and the retroactive payment. With the political attacks and weak economy climate for working people, the union has been a vehicle for figuring out a fight-back strategy in a very difficult time. We may not win every battle, but we have a fighting chance and always an opportunity to become better organized to defend social and economic justice. Academic workers are not immune to larger political and economic shifts in the global economy.
Waiver of Student Fees
In addition, all TA/GAs are no longer required to pay student fees and received a refund of student fees paid in the 2003-2004 academic year during the implementation phase after the provision was ratified.
For the first time, in the 2007-2011 contract, graduate employees won the right to workload protection and it was defended through the grievance procedure. Grievance procedures are essential for defending our rights on the job. Click here to view Article XI, which is the grievance procedure for teaching and graduate assistants. Graduate employees serve on the grievance panels, further improving the fairness of decisions made in individual cases related to TA.GA employment.
Working to ensure due process is an important part of what your union does!
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3. Do TA/GAs really need a union?
As graduate student employees, we are both students and workers. As employees, it makes sense for us to have a say in our working conditions. As full-time employees, we receive a tuition waiver and we are members of the state benefits plan (just like the full-time faculty). In addition, we have a fifteen-hour per week workload limit and we have formal policies regarding appointment and reappointment. These need to be protected and a strong AAUP-AFT is the only way to do so. There are equally compelling reasons to join the AAUP-AFT from our interests as graduate students, the non-employment side of our status at RU. Better working conditions will allow us to have the time and energy to attend our own classes and conduct our own research. Most importantly, better working conditions and more time to devote to our own work will make us better teachers. As both students and employees, we have an interest in the academic excellence of Rutgers University. The Rutgers AAUP-AFT strives to unite all faculty--full-time, part-time, non-tenure track instructors, non-tenure track grant-funded research faculty, EOF Counselors, winter/summer instructors, post-docs, and TA/GAs--into a strong and effective association that works to improve the overall quality of education at Rutgers through collective bargaining and professional development. We work in coalition with the staff unions on campus (URA-AFT, the 2 AFSCME locals, Doctors' Council SEIU, and the Police) and undergraduate students as well as the Graduate Student Association (GSA).
4. Are there other TA/GA unions?
Yes. While Rutgers is the only place where TA/GAs are in the same bargaining unit with full-time faculty, graduate student employees on over twenty-five campuses are legally recognized. These include the universities of Wisconsin, Michigan, Oregon, Massachusetts, SUNY, and Iowa. In 1999, teaching/graduate assistants on all 8 University of California campuses won elections for recognition. After many years of fighting, this was a major victory for graduate student employee organizing everywhere. In addition, there are several recognition drives underway.
The Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions (CGEU) was formed in 1992 and has functioned to promote issues relevant to graduate student employees. Its national meeting has grown in recent years and has been a place for graduate student employees to share resources and develop contacts. It's also important to note that we are part of a national movement that aims to improve the teaching and learning conditions at the institutions where we study and work.
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5. What do TA/GAs do as part of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT?
The TA/GA Steering Committee is the primary TA organization within the AAUP. Any TA/GA who is interested is invited to join. The committee works to promote TA/GA issues within the organization and throughout the university as a whole. We have sponsored several different kinds of events. Most recently, a teach-in about austerity policy and how it is hurting working people, especially public employees in light of struggles to defend the right to collective bargaining in other states, such as Wisconsin and Ohio. Once RU TA/GAs held a "grade-in" to demonstrate the kinds of work that we do. We have participated in the CGEU National Days of Action as well as those launched by the California Faculty Association.
The TA/GA Steering Committee works with the Part-Time Lecturer Faculty Chapter (PTLFC) and will also be making ties to the new postdoc bargaining unit at Rutgers. Given that these groups have many mutual concerns, we think it makes sense to work together. Often TAs who are no longer able to receive funding from their department in that capacity take positions as Part-Time Lecturers or may also teach during winter or summer sessions. Then, obtaining postdoctoral appointments is the next step in the professional process in academia.
6. Does the AAUP-AFT represent me even if I am not a member?
Yes it does. All new employees begin as representation fee payers. This is a fee deducted from your paycheck to help pay for union representation, but this does not mean you are automatically a member. To become a full dues-paying member, you must complete a membership form. The dues for TA/GAs are quite low, only 0.6% of your salary. The representation fee is 85% of dues, so as you can see the difference between fees is very small, only about $1 per paycheck.
We encourage all TAs and GAs to upgrade their status from mere representation fee payer to full members in order to have a stronger voice within the union and in negotiations with the RU management.
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7. If the AAUP-AFT represents me no matter what I do, why should I bother to join?
There are many reasons why you should become a member of the AAUP-AFT as a TA/GA. You will receive regular communications that will keep you informed of faculty and TA/GA issues at Rutgers. In addition, you will receive a subscription to Academe, AAUP's national bi-monthly publication that will keep you informed on the most important issues in higher education today. AFT's national publications, American Educator and On Campus, are also yours at no extra cost. Most importantly, membership gives you a voice in AAUP-AFT activities at Rutgers. Being a member will allow you to vote for officers, vote to ratify the contract, and it also adds to the overall strength of the organization. If you are not a member, then you risk having your future as a graduate student employee at Rutgers decided for you. Therefore, even though the AAUP-AFT represents you no matter what you do, that representation is much more effective if you join.View the dues chart to see that upgrading from representation fee payer to full members is only a few cents more.
8. Can I join a union in the United States if I am here on a foreign student visa?
Yes.Your right to join the union is protected by New Jersey state and US federal law. Visa requirements are not violated by membership in a Union that represents people who work in your position in the work place. Federal labor law guarantees that union membership is confidential. Many international graduate students are and have been members and leaders of the union over the years from 1972 to the present.
9. How much are dues?
Dues are .60% of your salary. Non-members pay a representation fee which amounts to 85% of dues (0.51%). It costs only pennies a day to be a member. View the TA/GA dues chart.
Note: Graduate employees may also seek teaching positions as Part-Time Lecturers (PTLs). PTLs also have a union, a bargaining unit under the same Rutgers AAUP-AFT umbrella but with a separate contract covering their terms and conditions of employment. If you have been a TA/GA, you are automatically eligible to join the PTL Faculty Chapter of the union without the waiting period of two semesters. Dues are 0.50% per semester. Check out the information for PTLs on their web page, ptl.htm, and review the PTL dues chart: PTL dues chart
Contact the union for more information. Karen Thompson is a staff member who is also a PTL. Call 732-964-1000 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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