GTAC Newsletter – 22 Apr 2020

Now more than ever, we must stand together in solidarity.

HELLO KU GTAs! There are four segments about #cashmoney in here so please read through but also note that the first segment of this email involves physical and mental health references.

CN: Mental Health Conditions
Many GTAs are experiencing escalating mental health conditions, including suicidal depression and other issues which may necessitate emergency in-patient treatment. Other GTAs have reported illness, other health concerns, and/or difficulties caring for children or family during this time. Please be aware that almost all GTAs are entitled to immediate paid leave through our negotiated employment contract and under the recent Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). For those GTAs who prefer to keep teaching, absolutely please keep doing so! Just remember that the choice is yours. Check out our website at and RSVP for our info session with Q&A on Thursday at 2pm or Friday at 6pm.

NEXT WEEK! We’re starting our GTAC Social Chats with topics including mental healthpolitical newspandemic newsgeneral news, and straight up social chats, along with chats for International workers and a Parent/Caregiver Chat. Check them out on our website or on Facebook! Speaking of Facebook, we now have a private Group for GTAs. Looking for tips or tech support? Come across something that seems… well, a little shady? Want to hear about resources and events? Join our Facebook Group! Please tell us your department and FTE when you join so we can verify your GTAship. Cuz you know. It’s a private group.

Have you heard about the budget cuts and the ones before that and the ones before that? Guess what? WE FIXED IT! Okay, we haven’t actually fixed it yet BUT we are pleased to announce that within our own analysis of the finances of our University, as assisted by our Research & Strategic Initiatives Department at the American Federation of Teachers headquarters in Washington D.C., we have identified several opportunities to shift University expenditures rather than continuing to gut our Libraries and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. We hope to use these models to address the deficiencies caused by years of “austerity” cuts and to win a living wage for all Graduate Teaching Assistants.

We believe that lack of a living wage and affordable healthcare have greatly contributed to the deteriorating conditions being experienced by many GTAs. When every day of your life is a crisis, there are no reserves left for times like these. We’ll continue our analysis over the coming months and publish our results on our website at, on our Facebook Page to the general public, and within our private GTA-only Facebook group.

Have you been asked to apply for a Federal Work Study in relation to your GTAship? Did that sound odd to you? It seems pretty fishy to us, too! One concern is that agreeing to a partial work-study may keep your salary the same, but may cut your tuition waiver and your healthcare subsidy. This could also be an excuse to further slash GTA funds, creating a false base for subsequent years without stimulus funds. Finally, we are concerned about equity in distribution across units and in increasing attempts to undermine our rights as workers. We have reached out to KU admin for clarification but in the meantime, we advise that you NOT file for FWS at this time. We will keep you updated via email, text, on our website at, on our Facebook Page to the general public, and within our private GTA-only Facebook group.

FAKE NEWS: Did you hear that we sent a list of 45 demands to our new Provost? We don’t know what Barb was referencing during a late meeting yesterday, but it wasn’t us. Maybe she’s confusing us with internal student groups as opposed to a certified unit of workers who are recognized by the highest courts of the State of Kansas and comprise half of the teaching workforce at KU? Speaking of which, did anyone else notice that our new Provost very carefully refrained from calling us workers during yesterday’s closed Zoom? We have high hopes for Barb but we’re paying close attention.

REAL NEWS: We did send the new Provost a letter expressing hope for her administration, specifically regarding the working conditions of Graduate Teaching Assistants and the financial decisions made by past administrations. We hope to work with Barb’s administration on ending illegal labor practices and violations occurring with former administrations and in adjusting financial priorities for our University.

Speaking of which, have you ever considered the actual wealth created by our labor? Take our seven elected GTAC officers. Altogether, they’re responsible for educating 229 students. These 229 students paid $351,974.56 in base tuition in exchange for the labor of our seven officers this semester alone. Of this $351,974,56, the seven of us will receive $53,250 before taxes, campus fees, course fees, and other imposed fees. After taxes, we will receive roughly $1,200 per month, which is considerably lower than the minimum cost of living and is less than 12% of the cash we generate.

The labor of our seven officers generated nearly a million dollars for the University over the last calendar year. There are 1,155 of us generating these levels of revenue, and yet we are facing houselessness, hunger, and loss of healthcare during a pandemic. Our International workers are especially harmed by these decisions because of their visa restrictions – if forced to return to their families, they may never be allowed back. If not allowed to finish their degrees, we will have stolen years of their lives and work.

Again, this cash – $351,974.56 – is the base tuition paid by our students specifically for our services. The University also collects from our students extensive course fees, infrastructure fees, and the additional fees paid by undergraduate students in many of our schools and departments which range from $25.00 to $332 per credit hour. It is clear that any necessary reallocation of financial resources should not impact any area directly relating to GTAs, as we generate enough revenue in base tuition alone to pay for ourselves and for the needs of our entire departments in fulfilling half the teaching mission of our University.

Glad to be a part of a labor union? This is a time when our solidarity matters more than ever – click here to become a dues paying member of GTAC.

In solidarity,
Neill Kennedy
GTAC President

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