FSU TAs fight for equal pay

Recently, some teacher’s assistants at Florida State University said wages they have received thus far are not equivalent to the amount determined prior to this semester and written in contract.

“Going through this ordeal has been like a punch in the gut,” said William Lawson, a 26-year-old communication graduate student and teacher’s assistant from Dallas. “Do you know what it feels like and how frustrating it is to only get paid half what you are owed?”

Lawson is a TA for sections 1016 and 2600 of public speaking courses under the college of communication.

“The department of communication was lacking available instructors for courses this semester due to the department adding additional sections,” Lawson said.

Lawson said the heads of the department came to him and other TAs begging them to instruct labs. He said he has only been paid for two of the four sections he is contracted to teach.

“I am doing them a favor. If we wouldn’t have bucked up and done this, what would they have done?” Lawson said. “It is possible that kids wouldn’t have graduated on time because this is a required course at FSU.”

According to Stephen McDowell, associate professor and chair of the rectify the problem.

“We have spent a lot of time trying to correct this and we recognize people have payments to make. Therefore we have made available loan checks through the college of communication,” McDowell said. “This is a regrettable situation because not only are these our employees, they are our students to which we wanted to provide an opportunity.”

Lawson said he is not looking for trouble, but he just wants the money that is due to him.

Lawson said, “My purpose is not to give the college of communication or the university a black eye, but I want them to grant us what they owe (us). I think it is important to get exposure about this. It shouldn’t have perpetuated this far into the semester.”

At press time, the university was approaching its fifth pay period.

According to Sandy Beard, coordinator of accounting for the department of communication, problems in payroll have risen since the Online Management of Networked Information (OMNI) system was implemented.

“The system’s purpose is to help meet FSU’s financial and human resource administration needs,” Beard said.

She said glitches are within the system are because additional sections were added to TA’s course listings and the OMNI system did not accredit them.

Other departments at FSU such as the history and the chemistry departments have been accused of unjust payroll practices also. However, no one aware of a problem within the departments was available for comment.

Matt Harrington, 27, a first-year Ph.D. history student from Fort Myers is a TA for the department of history. He said all of his payroll checks have gone perfectly, and that there is no indication of a problem within the department of history.

Michael Williams, the accounting coordinator for the department of chemistry at FSU said, “I am not aware of any TA not getting what they’re due. All of our information regarding TAs is from professors and we then put that information into the system.”

The FSU Office of Payroll Services mission statement claims to assure that all employees of Florida State University are accurately paid in a timely manner.

Representatives of Payroll Services in the Controller’s office at FSU were not available for comment.

McDowell claims all problems within the department of communication have been corrected and they have followed up on all payroll work.

“The university issued retro-checks Monday evening to TAs who have not received proper wages,” McDowell said.

He said all TAs should make sure their checks are corrected.

Contact Jamey Turner atfamuannews@hotmail.com.