Newsletter – 27 July 2020

“If one tallied all of the losses suffered by victims of robberies, burglaries, larcenies, and motor vehicle thefts combined, the figure wouldn’t even approach what is taken from hardworking Americans’ pockets by employers who violate the nation’s labor laws.” ―Kathryn Edin, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America

GTAC Files Four Labor Charges Against University of Kansas Admin: KU administrators have recently begun engaging in illegal* union-busting tactics, including disparaging our union, holding captive audience meetings, harassing union leaders, and making threats against union workers. In response, GTAC has filed four charges (123, and 4) against the University of Kansas with the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB). GTAC has asked PERB to order KU administrators to stop overstepping their authority, to include GTAC representatives in planning meetings, to reverse the terminations and threats, and reassign the one department chair who agreed to cooperate with this illegal behavior.

KU can choose to work with us on these issues or to work against us by spending lots of cash fighting these charges – but they can’t work without us because we are the backbone of our University.

Ultimately, GTAC believes that KU works better when we work together, and stands ready to work with Provost Bichelmeyer to fulfill our shared mission at the University of Kansas. Although we have filed these charges against our University, we do so with the hope that we can use this process to help establish a future in which KU administrators choose to partner with us, and to partner with all faculty and adjunct workers, all staff and support workers, and all other graduate workers to truly create the University we all deserve.

Are you experiencing problems or hostilities at work? Are your rights being violated? Click here for information about your rights as a union worker.

*As public workers in Kansas, we have rights against many of the tactics which are legal in the public sector.

GTAs Stranded Abroad, Terminated by KU
As our International GTAs are experiencing difficulties returning to the US, they are reporting being terminated by our University with no recourse. We checked and it is technically legal to fire these workers for the crime of being stranded by a pandemic. But is it also unethical, devoid of compassion, and a violation of the principles of our University.

On the ironically named “International Community Support” page of their website, KU claims that our “international community is one and the same as the larger Jayhawk community. We are one. All services and supports serve all community members, period. The entire weight of the University of Kansas is behind our Jayhawks and that by definition includes those Jayhawks who just happen to be international.”

Other universities whose online workers have been stranded in other countries, including MIT, Harvard, the University of Florida, Brown, Columbia, and Cornell, have chosen to ​not ​fire GTAs, and many of them are offering additional support to both incoming and existing GTAs with the option to defer their appointment for a semester or year and still enroll in classes.

Click here to send an email to KU admin demanding that they live their words by rescinding all terminations of workers stranded abroad. GTAs are not disposable.

Let’s set our priorities for Fall 2020! Join us on Tuesday, August 4th at 6pm for a GTAC General Meeting via Zoom. (Register here!) We will be setting priorities and discussing safety conditions for Fall 2020, our rights as union workers, updates re International workers, upcoming contract negotiations, the charges we filed against KU, and wage theft. Check out our website at and RSVP for our General Meeting.

GTAC Questions for KU: Have you ever wondered how much KU spends on outside consultants? The actual results from the surveys that admins love to vaguely reference? How many International GTAs are employed at our University? Now is the time to get our questions answered! GTAC is compiling our largest ever KORA submission with the most requested information from GTAs. Click here to submit your questions by August 15th, 2020.

WAGE THEFT ALERT: Why is KU stealing from some of its poorest workers?

What is wage theft? At the absolute simplest, wage theft is as it sounds—a worker doesn’t get fully paid for the work they’ve done. Often employers pull this off by paying for less than the number of hours worked, not paying for legally required overtime, or stealing tips. That’s money that workers are legally entitled to and that their bosses find some way of pocketing.

At our University, you may experience wage theft as being given duties that exceed your hours, being given duties outside of the GTA scope of work including being told to create course materials, and/or being “asked” or told to “volunteer” to work without pay. Wage theft is illegal and there is a simple fix. If you don’t mind the extra hours, we can have your FTE increased so that you are paid correctly and receive back pay. If you prefer not to work over your FTE, we can have your work duties adjusted to fit within your FTE limits and ensure that you receive back pay for the time already worked. Even better, you have three years to report wage theft, instead of the usual time limit for grievances. Contact us now to see if KU owes you some cash!

Click here to find out what counts as “work” for GTAs at KU.
Click here for an FAQ about hours of work and wage theft.
Click here for an FAQ on instructional materials.

Are you being “non-renewed” for Fall 2020? Click here to help us determine how many GTAs are being non-renewed and to find out if you have recourse against non-renewal for Fall 2020.

We’re on Facebook! Are you? If so, check out our private GTA-only Facebook Group! 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!

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.

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