After over a month of negotiations, the Graduate Labor Organization and the University officially agreed on a Fiscal Year 2023 stipend increase for graduate student workers Monday. The change, which will go into effect July 1, includes an effective stipend increase of 18.7% for humanities and social sciences students and a 12.9% effective increase for students in the sciences, according to the text of the agreement provided to The Herald.
All eligible graduate student workers will receive a total yearly stipend of $42,411.03, up from $35,728.30 for students in the humanities and social sciences and $37,557.05 for students in the sciences. An equity adjustment of $1,828.75 added to the summer base stipend for humanities and social sciences students will result in pay parity across disciplines in both the summer base stipend and the yearly stipend, a change that was agreed to in last year’s negotiations.
“We are happy, of course,” Alessandro Moghrabi GS, chair of GLO’s Bargaining Committee, said in an interview with The Herald. “It’s an important raise for our members.”
GLO initially proposed a 25% stipend increase. The University’s responding offer included a 4.25% raise and about $1,500 in cash increases to the base stipend that would amount to an effective 14.2% increase for humanities and social sciences students and an effective 8.5% increase for sciences students, The Herald previously reported. GLO disputed these figures because they included increases agreed upon in 2021’s contract.
After GLO submitted a counterproposal March 9, the University responded quickly with an offer “that was very, very similar to the one we ended up accepting,” Moghrabi said.
“This agreement represents a substantial enhancement to graduate student support and is the result of continued productive and collegial negotiating sessions between the University and GLO,” Ethan Bernstein, associate dean of administration and operations, wrote in an email to The Herald.
In previous offers, the University proposed the creation of a $500,000 “Financial Sustainability Fund” and the establishment of a third-party committee that would independently estimate the cost of living for graduate students in Providence, a move that the University said would solve disagreements about cost of living. GLO firmly opposed the formation of either.
“We reaffirmed that we would never accept a raise proposal that essentially put money behind bureaucratic walls,” Moghrabi said. The University dropped the proposal after GLO expressed concerns, he added.
“They listened to us, … and they struck all of that out,” Moghrabi said. “Following that, we got to work pretty fast and discussed (the proposal) among ourselves.”
Moghrabi also noted that the University’s new proposal fell nearly at the middle point between the initial offers of GLO and the University. “We found that it would be worth it to finalize this deal as fast as we could,” he added.
After receiving the University’s proposal, GLO held an internal vote among bargaining unit members, Moghrabi said. When the poll closed Friday, 98% of voters had elected to accept the offer. GLO informed the University of its decision Monday, and each party ratified the agreement, Moghrabi added.
“Brown is committed to excellence in graduate education, and we believe the new stipend rate, when combined with other previously announced benefits, represents one of the strongest graduate student funding packages in the country,” Bernstein wrote.
“We feel that it is a victory, but it is a compromise,” Moghrabi said. “We got here because we fought tooth and nail for this.”