March 13 bargaining update

MIT’s bargaining team met with the GSU’s bargaining team for a 15th time on Monday, March 13. The parties made additional progress on non-economic contract terms and have begun discussing the union’s economic proposals.

Following Executive Vice President and Treasurer Glen Shor’s detailed presentation on the Institute’s finances at the last session, the Institute’s bargaining team shared this week that the union’s economic proposals, if accepted, would cost an estimated $150 million per year. Institute leaders made the following points about the realities of MIT’s finances, and the risks associated with the GSU’s proposals:

  • MIT’s funds are highly constrained. The vast majority are either allocated, restricted, or dedicated to preserving intergenerational neutrality, which means ensuring that revenues can support MIT’s educational and research mission both today and in the future.
  • New unrestricted central funds each year are typically very limited.
  • Central budget revenue support has grown 3.5% annually, on average, over the last 10 complete fiscal years. This is usually just enough to cover current commitments such as standard salary/stipend increases for employees and graduate students across campus, growth in financial aid, and other inflationary costs.
  • This leaves a very limited amount for new uses, despite MIT’s many worthwhile strategic needs.
  • The GSU’s proposals would cost MIT an estimated $150 million per year, with up to $125 million of this coming from the central budget. Schools, departments, labs, and centers will also be impacted significantly, which will adversely impact the Institute’s research competitiveness.
  • MIT has worked diligently with student leaders to ensure that it already offers graduate students comparable or better salaries/stipends and benefits than almost all peer universities.
  • Counting the value of their current salaries/stipends, tuition remission, and benefits, the Institute’s RAs and TAs are now compensated more than $126,000 per year for a 20-hour work week obligation. Even when corrected for differences in local costs, MIT’s stipend increases in recent years have outpaced the consumer price index.

For a deeper understanding of how the $150 million per year cost estimate would impact MIT’s finances and research costs, a presentation on the Institute’s analysis of the union proposals can be viewed here.

After the Institute’s presentation on the cost impacts of the union’s economic proposals, MIT and the GSU reached tentative agreements on non-economic contract terms on bargaining unit information, health and safety, and appointment notification.

In addition to sessions this month and next, both sides are actively discussing scheduling an additional session in May, and MIT looks forward to continuing productive discussions at the next bargaining session scheduled on Wednesday, March 22.