(As approved by membership on April 12, 2005)
1. Decision Making
A. Executive Board Vacancies
If an Executive Board member resigns before the end of her or his term, the executive board has the authority to appoint a replacement. Positions that remain unfilled after the election period may also be filled by Executive Board approved candidates.
As this step is at the discretion of the union, Executive Board approval is necessary before committing the TAA to arbitration. The pertinent grievance representatives shall present the case for and against going to arbitration to the Executive Board. They will also note the wishes of the grievant(s) and the advice offered by our lawyer. If the grievant(s) is a member of the TAA and they wish to attend the meeting in which the grievance is discussed, they will be allowed to attend. If the grievant is not a member, the grievant will be allowed to attend at the discretion of the Executive Board.
C. Decisions Made Between Executive Board Meetings via E-mail
Decisions via e-mail shall be made only when truly necessary and there is no way that the decision can wait until the next executive board meeting. Any decision will need to be discussed over e-mail for at least three days. At that point someone needs to make a motion. Whoever makes the motion is then responsible for tracking the voting and making sure that all the people who don’t respond to the e-mail vote are called. For any motion to pass, it requires a 2/3 “yes” vote. After votes are tallied, the person making the motion shall post the results to the executive board mailing list.
D. Ratification of a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the TAA and the State of Wisconsin.
A collective bargaining agreement between the TAA and the State of Wisconsin shall be ratified by the following procedure:
- The TAA’s elected Bargaining Team must reach a tentative agreement at the bargaining table. The proposed agreement is then forwarded to the Executive Board for review.
- The Executive Board reviews the proposed agreement and, if a simple majority votes “yes,” forwards it to a General or Special Membership Meeting for review.
- The General or Special Membership Meeting reviews the proposed agreement and, if a simple majority votes “yes,” forwards it to a ballot of the entire membership.
- The Recording Secretary shall then distribute a ballot on the proposed agreement to members in good standing no later than 3 days following the date of the General or Special Membership Meeting referenced in 1(D)(3). Members shall have at least 10 days to return their ballots to the TAA office or to other polling places as approved by the Recording Secretary.
- The contract is considered ratified by the membership if a simple majority of those ballots returned in a timely manner to the TAA office or to other approved polling places carry an affirmative vote.
- No ballot to consider a proposed agreement shall be initiated later than May 1 or earlier than September 15, in order to ensure the fullest possible participation by TAA members.
E. Approving Contract Extensions
A collective bargaining agreement with the State of Wisconsin may be extended by a 2/3 vote of the Bargaining Committee. (This policy was unanimously approved by membership at the 26 April 2000 , membership meeting.)
F. Budget Management
- All receipts relevant to TAA expenditures must be given to the TAA treasurer. Each receipt should note the budget category and line item which is to be debited and be signed by the person initiating the expenditure.
- Each committee chair is responsible for monitoring and approving expenditures charged to his/her respective committee. The Finance Committee is responsible for monitoring and approving expenditures charged to all other categories.
- The chair or Finance Committee may not overrun a line item, or move money from one line item to another within a category, without the approval of the Executive Board.
- The chair or Finance Committee may not overrun a category, or move money from one category to another, without the approval of the membership by vote at a General Membership Meeting.
G. Policy on Union Grievances
- Union grievances (i.e., grievances filed on behalf of the union as a body) and subsequent appeals may be initiated by the Executive Board.
- Union grievances that are filed on behalf of (and with the consent of) a member may be initiated by the Contract Enforcement Committee.
- The Contract Enforcement Committee may, with the approval of the co-presidents, initiate union grievances and appeals (through Step Three of the grievance procedure) if the relevant grievance time limits expire before the next scheduled meeting of the Executive Board.
- The Contract Enforcement Committee shall notify the Executive Board of any union grievances or appeals filed by the committee. (This policy was unanimously approved by membership at the 26 April 2000 membership meeting.)
A. Executive Board Members
- Executive Board members may not serve on the board and also be employed by the TAA.
- Any member of the Executive Board who wishes to apply for a Type I or Type II position with the TAA must resign his/her position prior to submitting an application.
B. Formation of Hiring Committees and Final Authority on Hiring Decisions
- When necessary, TAA hiring committees are formed by the Executive Board.
- The hiring committee shall have sole authority over the application and hiring process. It shall make its recommendation on the best candidate for the hire to the Executive Board. However, the Executive Board has the final authority on all hiring decisions.
C. Eligibility to Serve on a Hiring Committee
- Any TAA member in good standing may serve on a hiring committee.
- While not a requirement, the Executive Board shall make all reasonable attempts to ensure that at least one member of the hiring committee is not a member of the Executive Board.
D. Membership in the TAA and Employment as TAA Staff
TAA members should be aware that the TAAS contract forbids Type I staff members from exercising voting rights as TAA members (see Article V, Union Security, for further details).
A. Request for Copies of Meeting Minutes
- Copies of meeting minutes will be provided upon request to TAA members. Such copies may be redacted to conform with the Contract Enforcement Committee Publicity Policy and any other privacy policies then in force per these Bylaws.
- Non-members will receive copies only upon approval of both co-presidents. If both co-presidents do not agree on whether to give out a copy, the Executive Board will decide by a simple majority vote.
B. Use of E-mail Lists
- The co-presidents have sole authority over use of the membership listserve (i.e., e-mail distributed to the entire membership), with the exceptions noted in 3(B)(2). No messages may be sent to the membership listserve without prior approval of a co-president.
- The exceptions to co-president authority over messages sent to the membership listserve are as follows:
a. Trustees shall make independent, direct reports to the membership regarding any issue over which they have authority;
b. Elections Committees shall have independent, direct communication with the membership with regard to committee business.
- All committees will monitor and set policy regarding the use of their respective e-mail lists.
C. Use of Copy Machine and Printers
TAA members and staff may only use the copy machine and printers to produce documents directly related to TAA business.
D. Co-President and Treasurer Stipends
When co-president and treasurer stipends are part of the budget, these stipends will be awarded at the end of the fall and spring semesters. Disbursement is contingent upon a majority vote of membership to award the stipend(s), taken at the final membership meeting of the semester.
E. Access to TAA Records
- TAA members shall have free access to all internal union documents (except as noted in (3(E)(2) and 3(E)(3)). The internal documents of the TAA (including computer files and e-mails) will not be made available to non-members, except with the approval of the Executive Board.
- Grievance-related files will not be made available to anyone except to members of the Contract Enforcement Committee, members of the Executive Board, and TAA staff who need them for grievance-related work.
- Staff personnel files will remain closed except to members of the Executive Board and staff members.
- Anyone with proper access who wishes to copy TAA records is responsible for copying the material him/herself in the TAA office, under the supervision of an Executive Board member or staff person.
- The Executive Board will grant approval for access to records if required by law to do so.
- The TAA budget will be made available to any member of the bargaining unit on request. (This policy was unanimously approved by membership at the 26 April 2000 membership meeting.)
F. Access to TAA Bargaining Unit and Membership Data
- Only TAA members performing union business are allowed access to TAA bargaining unit and membership data, with the exceptions noted in 3(F)(2). No outside persons or groups will be allowed to view that data or be given copies of that data in either paper or electronic form.
- The exceptions to the prohibition on access to TAA bargaining unit and membership data are as follows:
a. The TAA Political Action Committee may provide pre-printed mailing labels based on membership data to candidates for political office, providing those candidates have been previously endorsed by union members at a General or Special Membership Meeting. No other data may be released.
b. At the discretion of a Co-President, data drawn from the TAA membership database may be provided to affiliated labor unions for joint union projects.
G. Use of TAA Office by Outside Groups
Use of the TAA office for occasional meetings by outside groups must be pre-approved by a member of the Executive Board. A TAA member must be present during the outside group’s use of the space and be responsible for locking up after the close of the meeting. The TAA has first priority for use of the meeting room and reserves the right to ask an organization to reschedule its meeting if the TAA needs to call an emergency meeting.
For details of staff pay, benefits, discipline, hiring, evaluation, and so on, see the current version of the TAA Staff Contract (“Contractual Agreement between Teaching Assistants’ Association Staff [TAAS] and the TAA”).
5. TAA Membership Status
Note: This section was updated by membership vote effective February 1, 2017.
To further explicate the requirements for membership as stated in the TAA Constitution (see Section V):
- Only Constitutionally eligible members in good standing may attend and participate in union meetings, join union committees, and vote on union decisions made at any level.
- Guests may attend union meetings, in part or in whole, at the discretion and with the express permission of a co-president or the relevant committee chair.
- A “graduate student” is any student admitted to a post-graduate degree program at the UW-Madison. This includes all students accepted to a post-graduate degree program by the university’s Graduate School, Law School, Medical School, School of Pharmacy, and School of Veterinary Medicine.
- TAA members are classified into two types:
a. “Regular Member”: graduate students who are currently enrolled or on a leave of absence;
b. “Lifetime Member”: a person who has been a Regular Member in good standing for not less than two consecutive years, is generally regarded by the membership as having performed exemplary volunteer service for the union, and has been elected Lifetime Member by vote of the membership at a General Membership Meeting. A Lifetime Member shall remain a member regardless of UW enrollment status so long as they continue to pay at least the minimum dues rate.
- Persons who do not meet the criteria for membership but wish to support the TAA shall be considered “Solidarity Members” if they make an ongoing donation of at least the minimum dues rate. Solidarity members shall have no voting rights and must be granted permission of a co-president or committee chair to attend union meetings.
- The Membership Secretary and Co-Presidents shall have joint authority over what forms of proof will be considered acceptable for establishing graduate student status.
- Employees of affiliated labor organizations will be granted TAA membership on a case-by-case basis only, and their application for membership must be approved by the Executive Board by a 2/3 affirmative vote. Persons granted TAA membership under this clause must pay dues at 75% of the then-current rate for regular members not less than once per fiscal year.
6. TAA Contract Enforcement Publicity Policy
Note: This policy was created by the Contract Enforcement Committee and approved by the Executive Board on 16 October 2002.
The TAA is committed to respecting the wishes of those individuals who have work-related problems or grievances under the contract (“grievants”). The TAA recognizes that not all grievants will want the facts surrounding their work-related problems known. At the same time, the union has an interest in publicizing successful grievances and being visible about our efforts to enforce the contract. To that end, we adopt the following guidelines regarding grievance publicity:
Generally, the TAA will be guided by three principles when it comes to grievance publicity:
- The grievant’s wishes,
- The grievant’s protection, and
- The presumption that most grievance information will be private.
These principles are subject to the following considerations:
- That the grievance representative assigned to the case, the TAA Contract Enforcement Committee, TAA staff, and the Executive Board (and the steward in your department, if involved) will be fully informed of all grievance or potential grievance information.
- The Stewards’ Council will be aware that a grievance or potential grievance situation exists, with the exception of name and department of the grievant, unless the grievant consents to his or her name or department being released.
- All grievance information may be released if the grievant and the union consent to such release, provided it is in the grievant’s and the union’s best interest to do so.
- Under state law, some documents are public records that must be disclosed pursuant to statutory procedures.
Before a Formal Grievance Is Filed
Your communications with your union representatives enjoy some privilege from disclosure from the employer, and the TAA will work to keep all documents that are part of the grievance process private and confidential to the extent allowed by law.
While the Grievance Is Pending
Subject to the Principles and Considerations set forth above, grievance information such as name of grievant and department will be presumed confidential, unless the grievant consents to the release of more information or is so compelled by law.
After the Grievance Is Resolved
After settlement or resolution of the grievance, the TAA would like to be able to publicize the grievance for the benefit of the grievant and the union. This will be done in accord with the Principles and Considerations set forth above. There are several means by which the grievance could be publicized, and the grievant may choose to authorize the release of his or her name and department information with respect to any or all of the following union publicity methods:
- Press Releases
- Communications to Membership
- Communications to Stewards, Executive Board, and Activist Lists
- Union literature regarding bargaining
- TAA Web Site
The Union will strategize with the grievant concerning when publicity is in the best interest of the grievant and the union. There are several benefits to the union and the grievant from publicizing grievance information:
- Rallying other TAA members to the grievant’s cause
- Keeping other TAA members in your department “in the loop”
- Proving the element of “knowledge of union activity” in a retaliation case
- Assisting fellow TAA members who might have similar problems
7. Amendments to the TAA Bylaws
The Bylaws may be amended by the following procedure:
- Any TAA member may propose changes to the Bylaws by submitting the proposed language modifications to the Recording Secretary.
- Proposed language changes to the Bylaws must be reviewed by the Executive Board, and shall be submitted to all members of the Executive Board not later than 10 days prior to the Executive Board meeting at which they will be considered.
- If the proposed language changes are approved by a simple majority of the Executive Board, they are then submitted for review at the next General Membership Meeting. The proposed language changes must be sent to all members no later than 10 days prior to the General Membership Meeting at which they will be considered.
- If the proposed language changes are approved by a simple majority vote at a General Membership Meeting, they are then adopted into the Bylaws. The Recording Secretary shall make the required changes to the Bylaws.