Hidden cost of academe?

bharathi jagadeesh bjag at u.washington.edu
Mon Aug 14 08:17:16 EST 2000

On 11 Aug 2000, Una Smith wrote:

> cjfuller at mindspring.com (C. J. Fuller) writes:
> >Several universities (Yale, Berkeley) have their TA's unionized.  
> Nope, there is not TA union at Yale.
> . . .  
> As far as the "living" wage argument goes, I should mention that Yale
> has very generous graduate fellowships that involve little or no
> teaching.  And teaching fellowships per se for the 1998-99 academic
> year paid $19.43 per hour.   

I think the U California  system has taken some big steps towards
unionizing their TAs. 

I presume that the $19.43 an hour is based on a 20 hour work week? Which
works out to about $19K/year (assuming a 20 hour work week, and 50
years of work/year - correct me if I'm wrong). Most of the
TA complaints have not been about the per hour salary rate per se, but the
limbo regarding health insurance, retirement plans, grievance procedures,
and work hours. Most of the TAs, especially ones in the humanities, math,
and physics, who have primary responsibility for teaching a class argue
that they spend a great deal more time than 20 hours/week. My limited
experience teaching suggests that it would take much more than 20
hours/week to have primary responsibility for a class, but I can't speak
for all. 

At the University of Washington RAs in our neuroscience graduate program
are paid about 18K/year, which works out to about $18/hour if
calculated based on a 20 hour work week. (the salary scale varies from
program to program, and is dramatically lower in some other programs)  Of
course, no one gets a PhD working 20 hours a week. But, in our case, the
work for which they get paid is in the laboratory of their advisor, and is
directly related to their Ph.D. 

What do we think is a reasonable package for graduate students? including
total salary and benefits? 

How about post-docs? 

Does it matter whether the salary is paid for teaching or for their PhD

Bharathi Jagadeesh
University of Washington
Dept. of Physiology & Biophysics

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