Graduate students organizing to improve working conditions.
1. Who is included in the category “graduate workers”?
Many graduate students at Tulane teach and assist in classes, conduct research, and work on various departmental projects in addition to their work as full-time students. Because of their on-campus work and their studies, these students cannot secure health coverage for themselves or their families through another job. Frequently, student worker’s only option is to join Tulane’s insurance plan (T-SHIP) or enroll in Medicaid.
Graduate students workers are typically paid an annual stipend of only $20,000-$25,000, which is insufficient to enroll in another high-quality healthcare plan.
2. Do all graduate workers receive the same benefits?
While a handful of Tulane’s Ph.D. students enrolled in the BioMedical Sciences program receive 100% of their insurance from the University, Ph.D. students working in the Public Health program have to cover 100% of their insurance costs.
3. Would this put financial strain on particular departments (for example, would departments now be required to find money to fund this?)
Health insurance subsidies for graduate workers are currently funded by the Schools (for example, School of Liberal Arts, School of Science and Engineering, Biomedical Sciences, etc.). We believe the expansion of these subsidies should also be at the School level instead of placing any financial burden on individual departments.
4. Why should Tulane improve its health coverage for graduate workers?
There are many compelling reasons for Tulane to improve its health coverage:
–Tulane’s peer institutions offer significantly better insurance benefits for graduate workers, threatening Tulane’s ability to remain competitive and attract top graduate scholars.
–Failure to provide adequate insurance coverage puts graduate workers and the whole Tulane community at greater health risk
–It’s the right thing to do! Graduate workers WORK! And just like other workers, we should not have to choose between accessing health care and making ends meet.
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