April 6 bargaining update

MIT’s bargaining team met with the GSU’s bargaining team for an 18th time on Thursday, April 6. Overall, the session was productive, with a positive tenor at the negotiating table.

At this bargaining session, MIT proposed enhancing its already generous economic package by adding an expanded leaves policy. The changes MIT put forward would provide up to eight weeks of leave in any 12-month period for family and medical reasons, including caring for a family member with a serious health condition. Under this expanded leave coverage, employees will not receive salary, but will continue to receive tuition remission and health benefits. MIT also offered to expand its parental accommodation benefit to add four weeks of leave with continued tuition, health insurance, and partial salary coverage. Finally, MIT added a day of leave for international students to handle immigration matters and clarified that the five days of additional annual vacation offered in a previous bargaining session could also be used for this purpose.

Both parties continue to emphasize the shared goal of reaching a first contract by May. This goal is contingent on the GSU’s willingness to present a realistic and responsible counter to MIT’s economic counterproposals. The parties engaged in constructive dialogue on economic and non-economic articles during this session, and we are encouraged that the union has indicated its firm intention to present a serious economic counteroffer at our next scheduled session, on Thursday, April 20.

To recap MIT’s initial economic package, presented at the March 22 session: We proposed raising bargaining unit members’ already competitive salaries by 4% in the first year of a new contract — on top of the nearly 9% increase provided last year — and by 3.5% and 3% in years two and three of the contract, respectively. MIT’s economic proposal also included one-time payments of $1,000 for all international graduate students to assist with additional fees and expenses associated with their visa status. The proposal also included needs-based annual grants of up to $10,000 for graduate students with dependent children, above and beyond the need-blind grants of $6,500-$8,500 MIT currently makes available to these graduate students. Finally, as noted above, the Institute has also offered the GSU an additional five days of paid vacation time annually.

The GSU’s economic proposals, presented on February 27, include an unrealistic 31-38% increase in graduate student salaries, along with other benefits that, in total, would cost MIT well over $100 million annually. As previously stated, meeting all of the GSU’s demands would create inequities in the MIT community, directly cutting into funds that provide annual salary increases for all other MIT employees, as well as annual increases to undergraduate financial aid, and many other critical Institute needs. These demands would also threaten the Institute’s ability to support the education and work of future generations of students and researchers.

We hope to make further progress on the remaining economic and non-economic proposals at the next session on April 20.