Temple University has revoked aid and tuition benefits for some graduate students who participated in the indefinite strike by workers on the Philadelphia campus. in accordance with emails received by many of these students this week.
After more than a year of unsuccessful negotiations with the university, the Temple University Graduate Student Association (TUGSA) Local 6290, the union representing 750 graduate students and research staff, announced a strike on January 31.
In accordance with Philadelphia Inquirer, it was the first strike in the union’s two-decade history.
Students took to social media to share the emails and account notices they received this week informing them that they owed money and that their health benefits had been suspended.
One Ph.D. candidate, Franciso Villa Jr., tweeted that he “woke up” on Wednesday “to see not only the cancellation of tuition fees, but money taken from the tuition grant”.
Madison Ingram, another Ph.D. candidate and member of the Temple University Graduate Student Association, mockingly tweeted “Lol, for my convenience,” in response to an email from the university telling her that because of her participation in the strike, she now had to pay her full tuition or face a $100 late fee. She will not be able to register for classes if she does not pay, the email said.
In a statement to CBS News on Thursday, Temple University said negotiations with union members are continuing and that more than 80% of TUGSA members currently remain on the job. Those who don’t, the university says, aren’t meeting contract requirements.
“Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, those TUGSA members who choose not to work and are on strike are no longer eligible for work-related compensation and benefits, which include tuition waivers,” the statement said. “As the striking workers are not entitled to a tuition waiver, they have been advised of their responsibility to make tuition arrangements consistent with the University’s treatment of other students with unpaid tuition obligations.”
The students’ tweets caught the attention of some lawmakers, including Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania.
Last week, Fetterman tweeted in support of the strike, saying: “I am proud to stand in solidarity with the striking workers @TUGSA_6290. The union way of life is sacred. It’s long past time for Temple to sit down and get these workers a good contract and fair pay and better benefits.”
He followed another tweet Wednesday regarding the cancellation of tuition and benefits, writing: “Appalling that Temple would retaliate against @TUGSA_6290 workers for pushing for better benefits and working conditions.”
On Thursday, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner came to campus and expressed his support for the picketing students, according to CBS Philadelphia.
By Mark Lamont Hill, professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University, is called for the university to “end this punitive approach and reach an agreement with graduate students by making a fair offer without penalties”.
TUGSA is demanding a 50% wage increase, better working conditions, health insurance for dependents, and longer paid parental and bereavement leave. Members of TUGSA have been working without a contract since last February.
In his own strike campaign pageTUGSA claims the university’s administration resisted a contract offer that would have included an average annual increase of just over 3% for the next four years, raising student fees to $22,500 by 2026. TUGSA claims the university has made “record profits” . ” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and “received record amounts of charitable donations and government assistance.”
In a statement about his site The university said Monday that “TUGSA members earn an average salary of $25 an hour for a 20-hour work week in addition to free health care and tuition of $20,000. The union requested a 50% wage increase over a nine-month schedule, while Temple proposed an increase consistent with the increase provided to non-bargaining full-time employees and coordinated with full-time bargaining units.”