Resolution to be presented at the Oct 31 ASM Student Council meeting and the Nov 5 Faculty Senate meeting.
In March and April 2018, graduate workers protested UW-Madison’s decision to change the mandatory fees payment schedule without the input of graduates. This decision would have required graduates to pay their fees before receiving their first paycheck each semester. After weeks of organizing, a petition drive, and two mass actions in Bascom Hall, graduate workers prevented the administration from changing the payment schedule. In short: graduate workers won through the direct expression of their power.
However, during the campaign, the TAA collected hundreds of stories describing the financial burden of these fees for graduates, despite the flexible payment schedule. Most graduates pay $600 per semester and international graduates pay an extra $100. Meanwhile, other universities such as University of California-Berkeley and Michigan State University offer the same services our fees pay for without charging graduate workers. It became apparent to the TAA during the campaign that a more equitable university is possible. Graduate workers should not have to pay their employer for the right to work at this university or for vital services such as public transport and childcare. As a result, the TAA decided that the campaign would enter into a second phase to demand the university remit mandatory fees for all graduates who labor for this university. Read the TAA Platform on Graduate Pay and Fees and the TAA Issues Statement on Graduate Pay and Fees here.
Since the beginning of fall semester, TAA members have worked closely with members of the Faculty Senate, the University Committee, the Associated Students of Madison, and our sister union, the United Faculty and Academic Staff, to pressure the administration to remit graduate workers’ mandatory fees (which constitute 0.2% of UW-Madison’s budget). Resolutions will be presented at the October 31 ASM Student Council meeting and at the November 5 Faculty Senate meeting by the TAA’s allies. Union representatives will attend these meetings to encourage the shared governance bodies to resolve that the administration should remit mandatory fees. All graduates interested in supporting these measures should attend these public meetings. In the meantime, TAA activists have launched a survey asking graduates what they would do with the extra money each semester if these fees were remitted. The union intends to share these stories with the administration.
While shared governance procedures are an important tool in making this university more equitable and democratic, it is primarily through graduates’ direct expression of their power—through their stories and direct action—that we can improve our material conditions. Anyone interested in getting involved in this campaign should reach out to the Stewards’ Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.