Many graduate workers are charged a gym fee every semester, regardless of whether we use it or not—totaling about $500 a year. If you aren’t charged this, it may be a cost your department eats for you, a cost that could otherwise be spent on additional travel funding, summer pay, or supplies.
Yet, we do not live on campus. We live in apartments throughout the city. Many have their own gyms inside. Others, if no gym is inside, has a gym nearby. But instead, we are charged a fee to use the campus gym, where we must change, shower, and work out next to the students we grade and teach. These fees are especially problematic for underprivileged individuals, who struggle with the month of poverty and are faced with also paying this fee prior to registering for classes.
There are a multitude of other fees as well. International workers must pay for visa fees, and a student activity fee is also charged to us every semester as well.
As a union, we can bargain to remove these fees as a benefit to our working conditions. The University of Connecticut (Article 20 a-c) receives waivers on their fees, and the University of Washington Seattle bargained to remove their building fees (Article 7 Section 5-7), saving them on average $550 a year. The most recently bargained University of California contract includes a $300 annual fee remission.
Together, we can ensure that our money is put towards what we want—not taken and used for facilities we never requested.