Graduate worker representatives met with Patrick Sheehan and Julie Karpelina, who represented the university administration, for the last scheduled GAPP workgroup meeting about the grievance policy on July 1. The workgroup came to an agreement on all outstanding issues about the way grievances will be handled.
There are some big wins for graduate workers in this policy: Graduate workers can now only face discipline or discharge for just causes; we have extended the time to file grievances; and there is a process for third-party hearing. The entire grievance procedure represents a way for workers to hold the administration accountable for following their policies.
However, graduate workers should also feel some trepidation. While Sheehan and Karpelina agreed with our final proposal, UW administrators could make changes before putting these policies into practice. Everyone on the workgroup agreed that there should be some form of continual policy review and improvement through shared governance.
Dean Karpus, Vice-Chancellor Heller, and other UW-Madison executive administrators will not commit to creating a standing committee for grad worker policy improvements. In May, the Graduate School released a version of Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures (GAPP) that excluded thousands of research assistants and lecturers and unilaterally reversed workplace protections proposed by graduate worker representatives.
The TAA has been working with the administration’s representatives to craft meaningful policy. We hope that university administrators will see value in this collaborative work and accept the grievance policy work as submitted by the GAPP workgroup. We further hope that any future edits will be returned to the workgroup for consideration.
No one understands these policies better than those of us who must live with them daily. You can learn more about the TAA GAPP campaign here: http://taa-madison.org/gapp/. Graduate workers need to lead the improvements to our decade-old policies. Please sign and share our petition to get our administrators to commit to real improvements for graduate workers and international students: bit.ly/dontpushgradworkers.