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 Dylan Kaufman-Obstler
Adria Brooks is a second 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.
Dylan Kaufman-Obstler is a graduate student and teaching assistant in the History department, focusing on American Jewish labor history in the twentieth century. Before coming to UW-Madison, Dylan cut her teeth as an organizer in Boston. This past year she has worked as a part-time organizer (aka “lost timer”) for the TAA and also served on the Contract Enforcement Committee. The TAA has been a critical advocate for graduate students on this campus – fighting for fair pay for all graduate student workers, responding to graduate student grievances, and showing up in solidarity with other groups on campus. She looks forward to helping the TAA grow and have tangible victories in the coming year.
Treasurer: Emily Hickey
Emily is a Ph.D. student in the Human Development and Family Studies department. Her research interests include social support and parent-child and marital relationship quality in families who have a child with autism. She has been a TAA member since 2015 and first became involved in the Stewards’ Council in her department. She is proud to be a member of such an active and democratic union and is excited to serve as treasurer this year.
Membership Secretary: Carl Sack
Carl is a sixth-year Ph.D. student in the Geography Department, and has been a TAA member since arriving in Madison in 2011. You’ll see him checking your name on the “guestlist” at general membership meetings. If you have questions about your membership status or need to report changes–such as a change of name, contact info, appointment level, or job type–he’s your guy. If you pay your dues by credit or debit card, you should also let him know when your card gets replaced–and expect a friendly phone call from him if you forget!
Recording Secretary: Alexi Brooks
Alexi Brooks is a 5th 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: 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
Acting Chair: Beth Miller
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: To be elected September 2016
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.
Political Education (PEC)
Co-Chairs: Jess Mullen and Rob Timberlake
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: Marcus Cederstrom
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!
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).