Binghamton University Graduate Student Employee Union holds protest for higher wages

Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 11:05 PM EST
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VESTAL (WBNG) - Binghamton University graduate workers held a protest Wednesday -- claiming the university is not paying them a livable wage.

“Currently the living wage in Broome County stands at $34,000, while graduate student employees at Binghamton University are making anything between $10,000 and $25,000,” said the university’s Graduate Student Employee Union Organizer, Andrey Darovskikh.

In November 2022, the GSEU launched its living wage campaign and have since collected hundreds of signatures on a petition created by the graduate student workers.

The student employees also conducted several surveys to learn how graduate workers’ salaries impacted their everyday expenses, like food and housing.

“We collected testimonies that showed us a lot of people, up to 40% of graduate students in Binghamton, they face housing problems,” said Darovskikh. “They struggle with their meals, their salaries, and a lot of them need to look for some additional income.”

However, Darovskikh said graduate employees are contractually obligated to work no more than 20 hours per week and are not permitted to have any other job. He said this has added to the financial stress.

Binghamton University administrators said plans are in the works to raise stipends for graduate students, but that increase will depend on the state budget for the university.

“I’m really encouraged that everybody is really excited and ready to keep pushing if it’s necessary,” said Graduate Student Employee Camille Gagnier.

The full statement from Binghamton University can be found below:

“Graduate students are a vital part of the research, scholarship and teaching missions of the University, and we understand the challenges and financial burdens they face. Currently, we are working on plans to raise stipends for a significant number of graduate students, but much will depend upon the state budget for the University. We urge everyone to support the governor’s proposals to increase revenue for the SUNY system, especially the university centers, which have graduate programs and fund graduate stipends.”