Over 80% of Graduate Student Workers at the University of Southern California (USC) have voted to ratify a first-ever contract.
The agreement includes significant wage increases, lump sum bonuses for every graduate worker and arbitrable protections from harassment and discrimination. The deal also ends the university’s ability to implement wage freezes.
“I am incredibly proud of this contract and all the work that went into it,” said Maile McCann, a PhD Candidate in the Civil Engineering department and bargaining team member. “Together, thousands of GSWs built a credible strike threat that forced USC admin to reach a deal that sets a new standard for compensation and workplace protections, both at USC and across the country.”
“I would say that we are all really excited about this contract because in the private sector we have an industry leading contract that sets us up for bargaining in years to come,” Jackie Johnson, a fifth-year doctoral candidate studying cinema and media studies, told the Daily Trojan. “I think that sends a real message about the strength of the graduate student workers at USC, as we see a wave of unionization across higher education.”
“Graduate Student Workers at USC power the research and instruction that makes the university run, but for far too long, they have not had sufficient input into their working conditions,” said Region 6 Director Mike Miller. “Through the power of their collective action and strike threat, Graduate Student Workers moved the USC Administration to meet their demands for a strong first contract that will make the university more inclusive and equitable. This campaign is part of a growing surge of militant organizing in higher ed and will be an inspiration to many more to follow.”
The bargaining team and the university first reached a tentative agreement on November 26, just one day before workers were set to strike and after nearly eight months of negotiations.
GSWOC-UAW represents 3,400 workers at USC. Workers voted by 93% to form their union in February of this year.