Building Our Political Program

On Thursday, November 19th at 7:30 PM, our Political Education Committee will be meeting to work on political action projects for the 2009-2010 academic year and the 2010 elections. Consider yourself invited! With questions or to RSVP, please contact Political Education Committee chair Peter Rickman.

The democratic political process impacts us tremendously. So we must impact it.

First: As public employees, the decisions that get made about our lives as grad student workers (both as students and as workers) are made by elected officials and people appointed by elected officials. The state political scene affects us most directly in this way. From wages and benefits to the state of the university and even the nature of academia, the political process in Wisconsin touches us very directly and importantly as public employees.

Second: As citizens, the decisions that get made — and what decisions get made — about our lives are made by elected officials and other political actors. The political scene at the local, state, and national levels affects us directly and indirectly. Issues like healthcare and climate change, higher education funding and labor markets, transportation and civil rights are all decided upon in the political arena — and they all affect us now and in our futures.

Third: As union members part of a larger labor movement, the political arena is where we advance our vision of a progressive and democratic society. The core values and principles that animate unionism, like solidarity, justice, and democracy, are made real in the political process. Politics is the contesting for power around authoritative allocation of priorities and action on values and principles. We must act in this arena to advance our vision of social solidarity, justice, and democracy.

Our union is our collective vehicle to take action on all things that affect us, be it collective bargaining or political activity. So through our union we build our political power to impact the going-ons of politics.

Our union has a Political Education Committee that serves as our program planning and driving body. The “PEC” (or “peck” in union parlance) makes decisions on who we endorse as candidates and how we endorse them, what our legislative agenda will be and how to pursue it, how we allocate resources from our political action committee, and what our political strategy will be. PEC also builds our political program among union members; as a union, our strength lies in people-power, the strength of numbers, the strength of grassroots organizing and activism.

Our PEC has a number of important and dare we say exciting projects on tap for the 2009-2010 academic year, both for our political program at large and with respect to the upcoming 2010 elections. For those who do not know, in 2010 Wisconsin will vote on who will be governor, who will be attorney general, and who will be in the state legislature.

The projects we have coming up will include creating a political platform and agenda, creating a new candidate endorsement questionnaire, educating members about the political process and particular issues, determining if and how to be involved in spring 2010 municipal elections, and beginning to mobilize around the 2010 fall elections. Each project will have a lead person from the PEC driving it. But for these projects to be successful, for us to build the strongest political program possible, we need members to be involved in developing and advancing the projects.

On Thursday, November 19th at 7:30 PM, the PEC will be meeting to talk about these projects. Consider yourself invited to join with the PEC as we begin in earnest our work on these projects. You can attend the meeting on the 19th, or if you like, join in on a project at anytime. With questions prior to the meeting or anytime, contact the chair of our Political Education Committee, Peter Rickman.

Political action is one of the most important ways that our union advances our interests, our agenda, and our well-being. Our political program is the way we do it. So we hope that you join with the PEC in building a strong political program for the TAA!