Each spring, the TAA membership elects union officers to carry out the day to day business of the union. Any member is eligible to run for office and the term is one year. The elected officers of the TAA sit on the Executive Board along with the chairs of the TAA’s standing committees. The Executive Board meets monthly to discuss union business, make recommendations to be considered at membership meetings and take actions in areas or on issues that the membership has designated.
Co-Presidents: Adria Brooks and Rob Timberlake
Adria Brooks (left) is a third year PhD student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department and the Nelson Institute’s Energy Analysis and Policy program. She was raised in a union family in Nashville TN, but moved to Madison most recently from Tucson AZ where she worked in the solar energy industry and was involved in LGBTQ rights and youth advocacy. Adria previously served in the TAA as the ECE departmental steward and this is her second Co-President term.
Rob (right) is a third year graduate student in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. Prior to coming to UW–Madison, Rob taught high school English in Detroit, MI, where he worked with other staff to form a union. His roles in schools and his advocacy in Detroit catalyzed his interest in the politics of educational policies, his current area of study. Rob has worked as a graduate student representative and steward for his department and has co-chaired the Political Education Committee of the TAA. This is his first Co-President term.
Treasurer: Tina Treviño-Murphy
Tina is a 3rd year PhD student in Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies and worked with the TAA as an undergraduate ally until finally joining as a graduate student in 2015. Her research focuses on objects used for storytelling in social movements (i.e. props), and frankly so does a lot of her activism. As Treasurer, Tina is the unofficial Queen of Quickbooks and can subsist on TAA receipts and leftover coffee alone!
Membership Secretary: Lauren Ayers
Lauren Ayers is a fifth year PhD student in the History Department, writing a dissertation on the Forest Products Laboratory. You’ll see her checking you in at general membership meetings. If you have questions about your membership status or need to report changes—such as changes in name, contact info, appointment level—let her know.
Recording Secretary: Alexi Brooks
Alexi Brooks is a 6th year PhD student in Computer Sciences. He joined the stewards council in 2015 and now serves as the recording secretary, where he keeps the minutes of union meetings and maintains these records of our history.
- Co-Presidents: Adria Brooks and Dylan Kaufman-Obstler
- Treasurer: Emily Hickey
- Membership Secretary: Carl Sack
- Recording Secretary: Alexi Brooks
- Co-Presidents: Cynthia Burnson and Sergio González
- Treasurer: Vera Pfieffer
- Membership Secretary: Carl Sack
- Recording Secretary: Michael Billeaux
- Co-Presidents: Michael Billeaux and Eleni Schirmer
- Treasurer: Travis McArthur
- Membership Secretary: Daniel Liu
- Recording Secretary: Cynthia Burnson
Our committees carry out the day-to-day work of the union. Getting involved with your union through the work of a committee is a way to ensure that our union works for us as grad student workers.
The chairs or VPs of each committee sit on the Executive Board with the elected officers of the union. The TAA has seven standing committees that plan and oversee various aspects of the life of the union.
What’s involved in being a committee member or committee chair?
- Committee members typically attend one meeting a month and work on projects designed by the committee. Time commitment: 2-6 hours/month.
- Committee chairs typically plan and chair one meeting per month, attend one Executive Board meeting per month, and work on projects designed by the committee. Time commitment: 5-10 hours/month.
- Vice presidents have a few more duties, in addition to those noted under “committee chairs” (occasionally attending staff meetings and assisting the co-presidents when necessary). Time commitment: 10-15 hours/month.
Contract Enforcement Committee
Chair: Robert Christl
The Contract Enforcement Committee (CEC) is devoted to making sure that all graduate assistants have access to the hard-won rights of our contract. If you have a problem in the workplace, contact this committee right away; CEC members will work with you to help find solutions. If a workplace issue of any kind should arise, email the CEC.
If you’re interested in helping your fellow workers, you may enjoy working on the CEC. There is an ongoing need for more member-volunteers for this very important work!
Chair: Jacqueline Goldstein
Departmental Stewards provide members with a friendly face who knows the ins and outs of the union and simple contract questions in each academic department or building. A steward also focuses on recruiting and organizing new members in the department and posts flyers and spreads the word about upcoming meetings or social events.
Stewards are the first point of contact for rank and file members if any questions regarding the union, job situations, or contract questions arise. Stewards typically convene every three weeks in the form of the Stewards Council to discuss issues that have arisen and to develop and implement organizing and social events. The Stewards Council, also may introduce motions at membership meetings without the need for a second. If you are a TA or a PA in a department without a steward, please consider becoming one. The time commitment is approximately 5 hours a month and it affords you the opportunity to be a leader in your department and interact with other graduate students from various departments in the Stewards Council.
The Political Education Committee serves to inform members about electoral and legislative issues of local, state and national importance. Political Education sends out candidate surveys at election time to help membership decide on endorsements. The committee has also coordinated major lobbying and letter-writing campaigns in support of our contract battles. If local and state politics are your thing, becoming active in the Political Education Committee is a great way to help your union!
Chair: Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen
The Publicity Committee is responsible for helping to disseminate information to members via occasional newsletters and the TAA website. Committee members also keep the union’s issues in the press by writing and distributing press releases, photographing TAA public events, and coordinating with other committees for event publicity. This is very important “behind the scenes” work. If you’d rather write about a rally than speak at one, the publicity committee needs you!
Please contact us if you would like to help revive any of these committees! The Political Education Committee has been taking on much of the work of the committees listed below as we build capacity, but we would love to support members if they are interested in these specific tasks:
The Diversity committee strives to promote a climate that is inclusive and welcoming to all members of the union, university and Madison communities. Past projects have included working to increase options for meaningful diversity training, making childcare available for every TAA General Membership Meeting, working to oppose the statewide ban on civil unions and same sex marriages, and holding an annual Eagle Heights Halloween Party. New members are encouraged to develop new projects as needs and issues develop on campus.
The Education Committee is dedicated to all issues related to undergraduate instruction. In the past, this committee has conducted surveys of TA teaching methods, hosted brown-bag discussions on pedagogy, reviewed class-sizes in various departments in conjunction with the contract enforcement committee.
The Labor Solidarity Committee consists of members who are interested in what goes on in other unions and in the broader labor movement. The TAA can send up to 10 delegates to the South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL) – so the more committee members, the better! SCFL delegates represent the TAA one meeting a month (7pm on the third Monday of each month). Other committee tasks include keeping abreast of labor issues both regionally and nationally in order to inform and mobilize TAA members (e.g., email petitions, donations, letter-writing campaigns, marching on picket lines).