After a high-profile campaign by graduate workers at Duke University, the school just announced that it would pay them a $31,000 year stipend, meeting their demand for $15 an hour full-time pay. The announcement came after a series of protests at the school and on the eve of an event the group had planned for parents' weekend to demand a "ticket to a living wage." This move not only provides a $15 an hour living wage, it expands stipend payments to cover all twelve months of the year. Previously, graduate workers had to find a way to survive without an income during the summer.
"Our union has been fighting for over a year to force Duke to guarantee a 12-month living stipend for all grad workers. Today, the Graduate School buckled to our pressure and agreed to pay PhD students a living wage 12 months of the year. This is an enormous victory that will put millions of dollars in the pockets of grad workers. It’s a testament to the power of our union — and to unions everywhere!" SEIU Workers United Southern Region Local 27, Duke Graduate Students Union said in a statement.
The Duke Graduate Student Union formed their chapter with SEIU Workers United in 2017. Since then, they have won a number of victories through direct action including gym access and an end of continuation fees for sixth year students.
Graduate workers around the country have been mobilizing to demand a $15 minimum wage for all campus employees. Emory University graduate workers won a $15 an hour minimum wage last fall.