Florida State University’s Graduate Assistants United demands change policies around COVID-19
Tallahassee, FL- On March 22, Florida State University’s Graduate Assistants United (GAU) marched to Wescott and demanded FSU change their policies around COVID-19.
“Florida State University wants GAs basically to come to work, be overworked, underpaid and just die on their own dime and do nothing about it. There are a lot of things on this campus that are impacting GA safety in particular,” said Jordan Lenchitz, grievance officer for GAU. Lenchitz went on to explain how COVID-19 threatened both teachers’ livelihoods and ability to financially support themselves. “We’re here today to let the university know that we’re not going to go quietly, and we’re not going to die and pay for our own funerals, because they don’t pay us enough for that anyway.”
Organizing chair for GAU, Jordan Scott, elaborated on the conditions FSU students and faculty have been facing. “With the majority of graduate workers making between $16,000 and $25,000 annually, we cannot afford to subsidize Florida State University’s response, or lack thereof to the crisis.” He said they wanted to unite other organizations on FSU’s campus to fight for better conditions within the pandemic.
“We are currently building relationships with different student organizations including but not limited to Students for a Democratic Society and an array of international students’ organizations on campus, and the staff and faculty unions. The best thing that anyone can do is show up to the impact bargaining. Our first impact bargaining meeting. There will be a hybrid option. The best way to hear about any updates is by following us on social media Twitter @fsu_gau, Facebook facebook.com/fsugau/ or on Instagram at fsugau.”
Some of GAU’s demands include workplace modifications for disabled workers, compensation for in-patient medical costs, and paid sick leave when a graduate worker is exposed to COVID-19.
GAU members say they will keep fighting for a successful bargaining and to hold FSU accountable for its role in allowing the COVID-19 pandemic to spread.
Jordan Lenchitz also criticized FSU for attempting to hold in-person meetings for their negotiations when several members from GAU had contracted COVID-19. He urged people to come support them at their bargaining meeting. “People are welcome to come and get involved. FSU’s entire team is six people, and so, if we can bring out 50 people, we can outnumber them nine to one.”