The following FAQs will be periodically updated as negotiations continue.
SEIU Local 73 represents graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) at Illinois State University. During the Fall 2023 semester, ISU employs approximately 450 GTAs. For more information about GTAs, see the “What Is A GTA?” tab.
Last Updated 9/5/23
The contract between Illinois State University and SEIU Local 73 expired on June 30, 2023, and the parties are negotiating over wages and other terms and conditions of employment for a successor agreement. The contract is automatically extended while negotiations continue.
This is a normal part of the labor-management relationship. Collective bargaining agreements are contracts, entered into between management and unions, which delineate wages and other terms and conditions of employment for a specific period of time. When that time ends, it is normal for the parties to negotiate over the terms of a successor agreement.
Last Updated 7/11/23
ISU and SEIU Local 73 mutually agreed to start negotiations on March 13, 2023.
Last Updated 3/22/23
The parties met for their first formal negotiation session on March 13, 2023, and have held a total of 19 formal negotiation sessions, which includes seven sessions with an impartial federal mediator.
On October 27, 2023, ISU presented the Union with a last, best, and final proposal and requested that the Union bring this proposal to its membership for a vote on or before Friday, November 10.
On October 30, the Union advised ISU that it will review the University’s last, best, and final proposal with its membership. However, the Union has not brought the University’s October 27 last, best, and final offer to its membership for a vote. Instead, on November 9, the Union distributed a news release indicating they do not intend to “vote on the employer’s last offer at this time”. The parties have scheduled an additional negotiation session with the impartial federal mediator for December 12, 2023.
Last Updated 11/20/23
The parties have scheduled an additional negotiation session with the impartial federal mediator for December 12, 2023.
Last Updated 11/20/23
The University and the union have engaged an impartial federal mediator to assist the parties in reaching a contract agreement, and the first mediation session was held on July 27, 2023.
To be clear, when we entered mediation, the parties were not at impasse and many issues remained unresolved. While it is unusual to engage in mediation when the parties are not at impasse and many unresolved issues remain, the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) has the statutory authority to, within 45 days of the start of the school year, direct mediation to help the parties conclude negotiations in a timely and productive manner. The parties elected to jointly request the use of mediation services from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), rather than utilize a mediator from the IELRB.
Last Updated 10/30/23
ISU is committed to the mediation process and continued negotiations. The guidance of an independent mediator can help move negotiations forward in a productive manner. While a strike is always possible, ISU is committed to reaching a fair and fiscally responsible contract agreement that meets the needs of all stakeholders without disrupting the teaching and learning environment.
Last updated 7/27/23
On October 11, 2023, SEIU publicly rejected ISU’s September 29 first counterproposal on compensation, without first discussing this position with the University, and announced their intention to conduct a strike authorization vote. A strike authorization vote is a procedural step that gives the union the authority to call a strike if the parties are unable to come to agreement. It is our understanding that a strike authorization vote did occur. It is important to understand that this does not mean that a strike will occur. Under Illinois law, the Union must provide the University with a ten-day Notice of Intent to Strike prior to striking, which ISU has not received.
Last updated 11/13/23
The Union has not brought the University’s October 27 last, best, and final offer to its membership for a vote. Instead, on November 9, the Union distributed a news release indicating they do not intend to “vote on the employer’s last offer at this time”. The parties have scheduled an additional negotiation session with the impartial federal mediator for December 12, 2023.
Illinois State remains committed to bargaining in good faith and optimistic that the parties can reach agreement without a strike. However, the University has initiated contingency planning activities to ensure its ability to minimize disruption to teaching and learning should a strike occur.
Last Updated: 11/20/23
In addition to a full-tuition waiver, a partial waiver of mandatory student fees, and reimbursement of student health care coverage fees, all ISU GTAs receive a stipend based on both the student's graduate degree level (masters or doctoral) and the full-time equivalency (FTE) of their assistantship appointment (0.25 FTE = 10 hours per week and 0.50 FTE = 20 hours per week). 99% of ISU’s GTAs are employed 20 hours or less per week (0.50 FTE or less). ISU establishes a minimum monthly stipend; however, University departments have the discretion to offer a higher stipend.
In 2021 and 2022, ISU implemented significant market adjustments that resulted in aggregate increases to the minimum stipend of 36% for Masters-level GTAs and between 12-33% for PhD-level GTAs. Based on these changes, the current Masters-level minimum stipend is at about the 58th percentile of peer institutions and the current Doctoral-level minimum stipend is at about the 42nd percentile of peer institutions. Current minimum stipends for GTAs with .50 FTE appointments working 20 hours per week (67% of all GTAs) are:
For additional information about the current GTA total compensation package, see What is a GTA?
Last updated 10/30/23
ISU’s October 27 last, best, and final proposal ensures the total compensation package provided to our GTAs is above the average at peer institutions.
For the FY24 academic year, the University has proposed market wage adjustments of more than 10% increases to minimum stipends, resulting in the following new minimum stipends (nine-months at 20 hours/week):
These new minimum stipends are above the 60th percentile of peer institutions’ Spring 2023 rates for both Masters-level and Doctoral-level GTAs.
In addition to these significant increases in minimum stipends, under the University’s proposal, GTAs who are already paid more than the new minimum stipend will receive a 3.5% increase in FY24. All FY24 increases will be retroactive to the start of the GTA’s Fall 2023 appointments.
For the FY25 academic year, ISU has proposed that minimum stipends increase by 3.0%, and that returning GTAs receive either a 3.0% increase or the same percent increase as the campus wage program, whichever is greater.
For the FY26 academic year, ISU has proposed that minimum stipends increase by 2.5%, and that returning GTAs receive either a 2.5% increase or the same percent increase as the campus wage program, whichever is greater.
These stipend increases are in addition to the other pieces of a GTA’s total compensation package:
In total, under ISU’s last, best, and final proposal, the compensation package for a GTA earning the minimum stipend and working 20 hours/week for nine months is valued at approximately:
Last Updated 10/30/23
Illinois State University uses the Carnegie classification system, sector (e.g., Public, 4-year or above), and geographic region (e.g., U.S. Census Bureau regions) to determine a set of institutions that may be used for salary comparisons of most academic positions and many non-academic positions. ISU is classified under the Carnegie classification system as an R2 research university and is located in the Midwest US Central Bureau Region. As of September 29, 2023, the Carnegie Classification system reports there are 24 public, four-year universities classified as R2 research universities located in the states in the Midwest US Central Bureau region.
Last Updated 10/12/23
ISU believes in paying our GTAs competitively with peer institutions, and we do.
The concept of a living wage assumes year-round, full-time employment when, in fact, 99% of ISU’s GTAs are employed 20 hours or less per week and GTAs generally only work for the University during the 9-month (39 week) academic year. The Union’s demand for a living wage is essentially a demand to receive full-time pay for part-time work.
Last Updated: 10/20/23
IISU pays our GTAs a compensation package that is competitive with peer institutions. In its October 27 last, best, and final proposal, ISU has offered increases to stipends for all GTAs that would ensure our total compensation package is even more competitive in the future. Under ISU’s current proposal, the total compensation package (stipend, tuition waiver, partial fee waivers, and health care fee reimbursement) for a GTA earning the minimum stipend and working 20 hours/week for nine months is valued at over $27/hour for Masters-level GTAs and over $29/hour for Doctoral-level GTAs.
Last Updated: 10/30/23
The decision to attend graduate school (or enroll in college) is a choice and an important step to earning the credentials necessary to pursue future full-time employment. That choice comes with costs – including tuition, fees, books and associated living expenses (collectively, their cost of attendance). Graduate students often rely on a combination of student loans, savings, family support, and wages from employment to cover their cost of attendance.
A graduate teaching assistantship is not a profession or otherwise intended to be the equivalent of a full-time job but, rather, it is a way to reduce the student’s cost of attendance while providing them with valuable opportunities to develop skills and experience that make them more attractive job candidates to future full-time employers once they have obtained their degree.
A graduate student’s choice to apply for and accept a part-time GTA position means they have the opportunity to earn their Masters or Doctoral degree tuition-free, which represents a significant reduction in the amount of loans or other financial support they may need to fund their education. In addition, they receive a stipend, a partial fee waiver, and healthcare insurance reimbursement.
While GTAs still must contribute to the cost of the education they receive at ISU, their out-of-pocket costs are significantly less, as indicated below
|No Assistantship||Masters-Level GTAs*||Doctoral-Level GTA*|
|$8,823 (or less)||$7,671 (or less)|
$8,947 (or less)
$7,795 (or less)
* Under ISU’s compensation proposal presented October 27, 2023; based upon working 20 hours/week.
Last Updated 10/30/23
It is common practice in negotiations for the parties to discuss and attempt to resolve non-economic items before discussing and attempting to resolve economic items, such as compensation. In these negotiations, the Union provided a comprehensive proposal addressing both non-economic and economic items at the start of negotiations. During our fourth negotiation session, ISU conveyed its intent to work toward resolution of non-economic items before addressing compensation and other economic items. Over the course of 28+ weeks (which included 14 negotiation sessions and 4 additional sessions cancelled by the Union), the parties worked to resolve the Union’s non-economic items.
On September 29, 2023, after consultation with the mediator and in an attempt to accelerate the pace and progress of negotiations, ISU presented its response to the Union’s economic proposals, despite the fact that several non-economic items remained open.
Last Updated 10/20/23
The Last, Best and Final Offer represents the most favorable terms that the University is willing to offer. After almost eight months of negotiations, including seven sessions with an independent federal mediator, on October 27, the University presented its Last, Best and Final Offer to the Union. This proposal reflects significant movement by the University, while still reaching an agreement that is competitive, sustainable, and fiscally responsible.
Highlights of the University’s October 27 Last, Best, and Final offer include:
Last Updated 11/13/23