Pay Regularity Working Group



Click here to sign a petition to increase graduate worker pay at Duke!

Currently, a gap of almost $2,000 separates many Duke Graduate student workers from what Duke considers to be a livable wage. In the summer of 2017, Duke promised to increase the minimum wage for “all eligible Duke employees and full-time contact workers” to $15 per hour by July 1, 2019. This does not include many groups on campus, including graduate student workers. Members of the Duke Graduate Students Union ask that graduate student workers be included in this move toward a livable wage. We ask that Duke:

1.  Extend the campus-wide wage increase to include the 2,500 graduate student workers on campus.

Assuming a 40-hour workweek, this would mean that PhD stipends increase to $31,200 for a 12-month pay cycle. This increase would make it easier for all graduate student workers to improve their living conditions and finish their degrees on time, but it would in particular help those with dependents, large student loan debts, and/or chronic medical conditions.

2.  Shift the funding cycle from a nine-month funding cycle to a 12-month pay structure so that all graduate student workers will make a living wage year-round.

Although Graduate Students are expected to continue working on our projects year-round, we are not guaranteed support from our departments or the graduate school throughout each of the first five years we are here. Having a 12-month funding cycle would allow us to focus on our academic work and would provide stability we currently do not have, especially for international students.

3.  Move the funding cycle to begin in August to match the academic calendar, rather than in September, to avoid unnecessary hardship for incoming and continuing students.

Incoming graduate students are expected to be on campus in August for orientation and to begin work on courses and research projects, but many do not get paid until the last day of September.

4.  Provide a relocation stipend of $1,000 be provided to each incoming graduate student.

Moving to a new city requires money for a security deposit and first month’s rent, essentials, and relocation. These numbers add up quickly. Together with paying students in August, a relocation stipend would make a graduate education at Duke more accessible to students from all backgrounds.

Not only would these changes to Duke’s funding vastly improve the lives of the people doing critical work for the university, it would promote the very values Duke claims to embody.

Click here to sign a petition to increase graduate worker pay at Duke!