Furloughs and PAships

This is in from the Teaching Assistants’ Association:

“In a big victory for graduate assistants, workers represented by the TAA will be exempted from state employee furloughs.”

Click here to read more.

A little background from my (limited) understanding: TAA is the union representing all teaching and research assistants.  This includes all La Follette assistantships as well as roughly 3,000 graduate employees at UW-Madison.  All TAs and PAs are members, although participation varies.  More information can be had on the TAA website: http://www.taa-madison.org/about/index.html.

Anyone care to comment or give further insight?

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About Nate

Graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am studying public policy, administration, and law. More importantly, I am getting the La Follette School Student Association out and onto the blogosphere. Here we come!
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2 Responses to Furloughs and PAships

  1. DB says:

    The TAA represents all TAs and PAs in collective bargaining; however, not all graduate assistants are members. Those who do not choose to join pay “fair share” dues.

    It would have been damn near impossible to implement furloughs for graduate assistants, because they’re paid through monthly stipends and their hours are so flexible anyway.

  2. This can be turned into a public policy discussion, if folks like.

    Graduate assistant workers are covered by Section V of Chapter 111 of the state statutes, in the State Employment Labor Relations Act (SELRA). When SELRA was adopted, and in keeping with a model for public employee labor relations that mirrors in many ways that of the National Labor Relations Act (originally adopted in 1935 and amended significantly in 1947 and 1955), the “union” shop provisions protect the interests of collective bargaining as well as the prerogatives of individual workers as they see fit. Under SELRA, all workers in a bargaining unit are covered by a contract; to prevent against free riding damaging the ability of the union as labor representative to effectively operate in service of collective bargaining and action, all workers of the bargaining unit need to contribute to the costs.

    So all workers in the bargaining unit pay equivalent dues, whether “members” of the unit or not, since all benefit from the contract and protections of the union. But, members have the ability to set direction of the union as well as make decisions (and carry this all out). Unions are democratic institutions governed by their members. So joining as a member opens up participation to all individuals covered by the contract to have a voice in what the collective body does. Members elect leaders, provide input on contract bargaining, endorse resolutions, etc. But non-members in the bargaining unit can always join, simply by filling out a quick form: http://www.taa-madison.org/getinvolved/newmembershipcard.pdf

    If you’re a TA or PA, you should fill out a form and drop it in the campus mail or send it over to the TAA office, at 254 W. Gilman St, Madison, WI 53703.

    *****

    It would have been darn near impossible to implement furloughs for grad assistants. But not because of monthly stipends and flexible hours. Furloughing grad workers would have been nearly impossible without breaking the collective bargaining agreement, or contract. Our work is different than many, if not most, state employees, including those covered by union contracts. Because of the nature of those differences and because of the structure of our contract – in addition to being students-cum-workers – TAs and PAs covered by the TAA really could not be furloughed.

    That’s one thing that is a hallmark of collective bargaining and union representation. Contracts establish fair rules, negotiated between equals at the bargaining table. No one party can make unilateral changes. And workers as a collective body can accomplish more, like protections of employment practices, together, as opposed to as individuals. We negotiated a contract as the TAA with the State, as equals because we bargained together as a collective, and they could not violate this – further, changes could not be made to the agreement without our consent.

    *****

    As a TAA Co-President and La Follette student, I’ll do my best to keep folks up-to-date through this fine new LSSA vehicle, Laflog, on what is going on with grad workers as workers. But if you have any questions in the mean-time, please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me at rickman.peter@gmail.com. Questions about our contract or grievances, as well as more philosophical things like “Why a union?” are more than welcome. And feel free to stop down at our office to talk anytime – or just to get a TAA t-shirt.

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