(Approved by membership February 22, 2010)
I. The name of this organization shall be the Teaching Assistants’ Association. It shall be located in Madison, Wisconsin.
A. “Day” – A day is a 24-hour period, unless otherwise specifically stated.
B. “Year” – Fiscal Year (from July 1 through June 30), unless otherwise stated.
C. “Week” – Seven days, unless otherwise specifically stated.
D. “Ballot” – Paper or Electronic ballots for elections.
III. General Principals and Guarantees
A. Rights to Membership
In the spirit of equality and solidarity, no person otherwise eligible for membership in this Association shall be denied membership because of age, ancestry, citizenship, color, creed, disability status, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, gender identification, learning barriers, marital status, mental health, national origin, native language, parental status, physical characteristics, political belief, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and background, spiritual beliefs, veteran status or any other factors irrelevant to the guiding principles of unionism.
B. Freedom of Speech
Members shall suffer no impairment of freedom of speech concerning the operations of this Association. Active discussion of Association affairs shall be encouraged and protected within this organization.
C. Democratic Elections
Members shall have the right to fair and democratic elections at all levels of the Association. This includes due notice of nominations and elections, equal opportunity for competing candidates, and proper electoral procedures which shall be constitutionally specified.
D. Right to Hold Office
Members shall have an equal right to run for and hold office, subject only to constitutionally specified qualifications, uniformly applied.
E. Accounting of Funds
Membership shall have the right to a full and clear accounting of all Association funds at all levels. Such accounting shall include, but not be limited to, periodic reports to the membership by the appropriate fiscal officers and periodic audits by officers selected for that purpose or by independent auditors not otherwise connected with the Association.
F. Participation in Decisions
Members shall have the right to full participation, through discussion and vote, in the decision-making processes of the Association, and to pertinent information needed for the exercise of this right.
The objectives of this Association are:
To promote the organization of Teaching Assistants, Project Assistants, and Research Assistants.
B. Collective Bargaining
To promote the welfare of the membership and to provide a voice in the determination of the broader terms and conditions of employment. We are committed to the process of collective bargaining as the most desirable and effective method to achieve this. Both as union members and as citizens, we shall also employ available legislative and political action.
To improve the standard of instruction, to encourage teacher and student experiment in curriculum, course content, and methodology, toward achievement of quality education.
To provide research services and activities designed to assist and support activities and objectives of the Association.
E. Social Progress
To cooperate with other labor organizations in particular and other segments of our society in the achievement of common goals.
Graduate students enrolled at the UW-Madison, graduate students on a leave of absence, former graduate students who have performed exemplary service on behalf of the TAA, and employees of affiliated labor organizations shall be eligible for membership in the Association.
A member in good standing is one who carries out the directives, supports the policies, and pays all dues approved by the membership of the Association. People who paid dues in the spring semester and who do not have an appointment with the UW-Madison or UW-Extension in the summer, shall not be required to pay summer dues to maintain good standing.
- 1. All powers of this Association shall be vested in the membership.
- 2. Except as hereinafter provided, all decisions involving the Association or activities shall be made at membership meetings.
- 3. Each member in good standing shall have one vote on a ballot, or in a Special or General Membership Meeting.
- 4. All members in good standing have the right to make a motion on any topic on the agenda of a General or Special Membership Meeting.
A. Regular Meetings
- 1. Regular General Membership Meetings shall be scheduled and called by the Executive Board at least twice each academic semester. The schedule of planned General Membership Meetings shall be published no later than 3 weeks from the start of the academic semester.
- 2. Any member may include an item on the agenda of a General Membership Meeting by submitting that item to the Co-Presidents at least 2 weeks before the meeting.
- 3. Notice of the agenda for a General Membership Meeting shall be sent to each member no later than 10 days prior to the meeting.
- 4. Any item not on the published agenda may only be added with approval of the Executive Board prior to the meeting.
B. Special Meetings
- 1. Special Membership Meetings shall be called at the discretion of the Executive Board or by petition of 5% of the membership.
- 2. No less than 3 days notice shall be given of Special Membership Meetings. Announcements of such meetings shall be sent to members in writing or by electronic communication; the meeting agenda shall be included.
- 3. Only topics included on the published agenda of the Special Membership Meeting shall be considered at that meeting.
Membership meetings shall have the power to determine all Association policy except that requiring concerted membership activity, e.g., non-performance of duties. Concerted membership activity shall be defined as any activity that binds all members to action.
A quorum for the transaction of business at any membership meeting shall consist of not fewer than twenty members. If a quorum is not reached, the meeting will still be held if there is no objection from the members present, but no votes binding to the whole body (including those members not present) may be taken.
All membership meetings shall be conducted in accordance with the revised Roberts’ Rules of Order.
The membership can determine that any motion related to a topic on the agenda be voted on by paper ballot of the full membership by submitting signatures of 20% of the membership requesting such a motion to the Recording Secretary at least one day before the meeting at which the topic is scheduled for consideration; or by a majority vote of members present at a membership meeting.
In those cases defined by Articles VI(C) and VI(F) where action by a membership meeting is inappropriate, membership action shall be in accordance with the procedure for paper balloting.
- 1. On issues other than strike (non-performance of duties), an affirmative vote of one-half the total membership in good standing shall be required for passage.
- 2. Any strike (non-performance of duties) must be approved by a majority vote at a membership meeting and then submitted to a paper ballot; an affirmative vote of two-thirds of those members in good standing bound by the motion to strike shall be required for passage. Members employed in a bargaining unit in which the TAA has not been authorized as exclusive bargaining agent by 50% of the employees in that unit shall be bound to strike only by a separate strike motion limited to that bargaining unit.
- 3. The Membership Secretary shall provide a procedure for filling absentee ballots. These will be due before the start of regular balloting.
- 4. In the case of a strike ballot, the Membership Secretary is authorized to prepare, distribute, collect, and tally ballots within a time period designated by the Executive Board; however, the ballot must be tallied no later than 30 days after the membership meeting referenced in VI(G)(2).
- 5. The strike ballot shall be overseen by a committee of 5 trustees, each from a different employing department, to be chosen by the membership at the meeting referenced in VI(G)(2). Trustees shall be members in good standing who are not officers of the union. Additionally, any member associated with the balloting or planning of the strike shall not be eligible to serve as a trustee. The trustees shall be responsible for reviewing the voting procedures and validating the ballot count. Trustees shall make the ballot results known to the membership.
VII. Officers and Labor Delegates
Co-Presidents, Vice Presidents, a Recording Secretary, a Membership Secretary, and a Treasurer shall be the elected officers of the Association. All officers except Vice Presidents shall be elected by ballot by the full membership. Vice Presidents shall be nominated by the members of the committee they represent, and their nomination will be approved or rejected by ballot at a membership meeting.
B. Election of Officers
- 1. The outgoing Executive Board shall form an Election Committee by March 1st.
- 2. The Election Committee shall conduct the election of executive officers except Vice-Presidents.
- 3. All members in good standing shall be eligible to run for office.
- 4. The officers as defined in Article VII(A) shall be elected annually.
- 5. The Election Committee shall declare nominations open in the newsletter or by electronic communication by March 15th. Nominations shall remain open at least two weeks. Nominations may be made by any member and shall be presented in writing to the Election Committee. Nominees wishing to decline may do so by notifying the election committee of such desire in writing.
- 6. Nominees may not serve on the Election Committee. They may choose either to decline the nomination and remain on the committee, or to resign from the committee.
- 7. At the request of any nominee for office, the Election Committee shall distribute an electronic copy of campaign literature for such nominee and facilitate debates or other forms of discussion to establish candidates’ positions on issues.
- 8. The Executive Board shall call a membership meeting to be held within two weeks of the closing of nominations. The first order of business of such meetings shall be the presentation of speeches by all nominees desiring to do so. Any nominee making a speech shall be subject to questioning by the membership.
- 9. The Election Committee shall be responsible for ballots to be printed and distributed to all members in good standing within 1 week of the membership meeting noted in VII(B)(8).
- 10. All ballots shall be returned to the Election Committee by 5:00 p.m. two weeks following the distribution of ballots. The Election Committee shall complete the balloting process by May 21.
- 11. The Election Committee shall tally the ballots by 8:00 p.m. of the second day following the close of balloting.
- 12. The ballot shall be overseen by a committee of 3 trustees, each from a different employing department, to be chosen by the membership at a membership meeting prior to March 1st. Trustees shall be members in good standing who are not officers of the union. Additionally, any member associated with the balloting shall not be eligible to serve as a trustee. The trustees shall be responsible for reviewing the voting procedures and validating the ballot count. Trustees shall make the ballot results known to the membership.
- 13. Any challenges to the regularity of the election shall be heard and determined by the incumbent Executive Board immediately. Any members of the incumbent Executive Board who is a candidate in the challenge election shall be disqualified from hearing and determining the challenge.
- 14. A majority of the votes cast for a particular office shall be required for election to that office. In the event that no nominee for an office shall receive a majority of the votes cast, a runoff election shall be held between the two nominees receiving the largest number of votes. The Election Committee shall prepare, distribute, collect, and tally the runoff ballots within 2 weeks of the initial balloting.
Officers shall take office June 1 when their election has been certified by the trustees, or at the earliest possible date in the event of a challenge.
Any officer of the Association may be recalled by a vote of the Executive Board, followed by a 2/3 vote at a membership meeting, followed by a majority vote by ballot submitted to the entire membership.
E. Election of Labor and Convention Delegates
- 1. Election of Association members to affiliated labor organizations and to the AFT-Wisconsin state convention, the state AFL-CIO convention, or the AFT national convention shall be in accordance with the rules for voting established by the respective organization as well as Association policy.
- 2. Any labor delegate who holds a position in a labor organization where that position is contingent upon status as a delegate shall not be removed as delegate without a two-month written notice.
VIII. The Co-Presidents
The Co-Presidents shall conduct the affairs of the Association in accordance with this constitution and in accordance with policy decisions of the membership. The specific duties of each Co-President are:
- 1. Uphold the TAA Constitution and ensure that all union members and union bodies follow the Constitution.
- 2. Call and chair Executive Board meetings.
- 3. Chair General and Special Membership Meetings; and prepare and publicize meetings agendas in accordance with Article VI.
- 4. Supervise staff; administer the staff contract; and be a member of the TAA committee that negotiates the staff contract.
- 5. Oversee management of the TAA office, including routine correspondence.
- 6. Act as a spokesperson for the TAA to the press and the university administration.
- 7. Act as a liaison to other labor organizations, in coordination with the Labor Solidarity and Organizing Committees.
- 8. Be a member of the Finance Committee and oversee all financial matters in coordination with the Treasurer, in accordance with Article XIV.
- 9. Sign contracts and other official documents of this Association; with the approval of the Executive Board, Co-Presidents may designate a deputy to sign such documents.
Co-Presidents shall decide between themselves how to divide and execute the duties listed in Article VIII(A).
The responsibility of the Co-Presidents may not be delegated, but they may delegate to a person or persons the execution of such presidential duties as they may in their discretion decide, subject to the limitations of this constitution.
IX. The Treasurer
The Treasurer shall be the chief financial officer of the Association. S/he shall receive, and issue receipts for, all monies of the Association. The specific duties of the Treasurer are:
- 1. Receive, issue receipts for, and make deposits of all monies of the Association.
- 2. Maintain properly and have custody over all accounts of the Association.
- 3. Be a member of the Finance Committee and oversee all financial matters of the union in coordination with the Co-Presidents, and in accordance with Article XIV.
- 4. Prepare and present a written report on the annual budget and the general financial health of the union not less than once per semester at a General Membership Meeting.
- 5. Prepare and send out checks for payment of all liabilities of the Association in accordance with the approved fiscal year budget.
- 6. Be responsible for day-to-day financial operations, including writing checks, monitoring credit accounts, and classifying spending according to the approved fiscal year budget.
- 7. Prepare the required annual “Maintenance of Membership” mailing to all bargaining unit members, and issue refund checks to those bargaining unit members properly requesting a refund of money under the Wisconsin State laws relevant to “fair share” dues payers.
- 8. File proper reports and forward per capita payments to the AFT-Wisconsin and the AFT national affiliates.
- 9. Oversee the preparation and filing of all income and other tax reports.
X. The Recording Secretary
The Recording Secretary shall be the chief recording officer of the Association. The specific duties of the Recording Secretary are:
- 1. Maintain an accurate record of the proceedings of General and Special Membership Meetings and provide a summary of such meetings to all union members via the newsletter or electronic communication. Such summaries shall include at minimum all formal motions and voting results.
- 2. Maintain an accurate record of the proceedings of Executive Board meetings and provide a summary of such meetings to all Executive Board members and to the Stewards’ Council in writing or by electronic communication. Such summaries shall include at a minimum all formal motions and voting results.
- 3. Maintain an accurate record of the proceedings of all Bargaining Committee meetings and provide for a summary of such meetings to all Bargaining Committee members and to the Stewards’ Council in writing or by electronic communication. Such summaries shall include at a minimum all formal motions and voting results.
- 4. Alert the Co-Presidents at least 2 days in advance (except in the case of an emergency) if absence from a General or Special Membership, Executive, or Bargaining Committee meeting cannot be avoided; and, if possible, arrange for a replacement to take notes and produce a summary of that meeting. If not possible to arrange for a replacement, the Co-Presidents shall appoint a person to fulfill those duties at the meeting.
- 5. Maintain electronic and hard copies of all meeting minutes; oversee long-term filing and archiving of meeting minutes.
XI. The Membership Secretary
The Membership Secretary shall have responsibility for maintaining accurate membership and mailing lists for use by the Association. These duties shall include:
- 1. Maintain membership database and statistics on membership.
- 2. Maintain an electronic mail list of all members.
- 3. Notify the university Payroll Department regarding changes in membership status.
- 4. Approve requests for dues refunds and notify the Treasurer.
- 5. Prepare an up-to-date membership roll for all General and Special Membership Meetings; monitor and allow entrance to such meetings only to members in good standing, or to guests approved by the Co-President chairing the meeting.
XII. Vice Presidents
There shall be 4 vice presidents: Organizing (1), Bargaining (1), and Contract Enforcement (2). Vice-Presidents shall chair their corresponding committees. The specific duties of each vice president are:
A. Vice President of Organizing
- 1. Call, chair and plan the agenda for Organizing Committee meetings.
- 2. Oversee the activities of the Organizing Committee.
- 3. Attend Stewards’ Council meetings.
- 4. Give a summary of Organizing Committee meeting minutes to the Stewards’ Council.
B. Vice President of Bargaining
- 1. Call and chair Bargaining Team meetings.
- 2. Help recruit Bargaining Team members.
- 3. Call and chair Bargaining Committee meetings.
- 4. Take general responsibility for informing members and other bodies of the union (e.g., Stewards’ Council) about bargaining issues and decisions made by the Bargaining Team and/or the Bargaining Committee.
C. Vice Presidents of Contract Enforcement
- 1. Call and chair Contract Enforcement Committee meetings.
- 2. Recruit members to the Contract Enforcement Committee.
- 3. Maintain proper records of grievances and other contract enforcement cases in a database and in hard copy files.
- 4. Track all grievances and ensure that the union’s duty of fair representation is fulfilled.
XIII. The Executive Board
The Executive Board shall consist of the Co-Presidents; the Vice Presidents of Organizing, Bargaining, and Contract Enforcement; Recording and Membership Secretaries; Treasurer; one representative each from the Diversity, Education, Labor Solidarity, Political Education, and Publicity committees, two representatives from the Organizing Committee, and the Stewards’ Council co-chairs.
The general duties of each individual Executive Board member are as follows:
- 1. Attend Executive Board meetings.
- 2. Attend membership meetings.
- 3. Attend bargaining sessions.
- 4. Serve on the Bargaining Committee.
- 5. Coordinate with outgoing counterpart to develop an understanding of goals, duties, and responsibilities.
- 6. Update the position or committee manual prior to the “transitional” Executive Board meeting, at which both outgoing and incoming officers are in attendance.
C. The Executive Board’s duties as a body are as follows:
- 1. Implement specific policy directives of the membership as instructed by ballot or in membership meetings.
- 2. Establish staff policies and procedures; hire staff, and, if necessary, discharge staff.
- 3. Call membership meetings in accordance with Article VI.
- 4. Facilitate coordination and communication among members of the Executive Board and between the various bodies of the union.
- 5. In the absence of Co-Presidents, enact plans to execute the duties of the Co-Presidents.
- 6. Create special or ad hoc committees as needed, in accordance with Article XV(B).
The Executive Board may make recommendations to the membership for consideration and action regarding union policy or collective action. For the purpose of performing this duty, the Executive Board shall have authority to gather information by consulting, in the name of the Association, with whatever persons or bodies are deemed appropriate, but shall in no way bind or commit the Association in the course of such consultation.
The Executive Board shall meet at such as the Co-Presidents deem appropriate. The Co-Presidents shall issue an Executive Board meeting call no less than 3 days prior to the meeting, and shall give notice to each Executive Board member of the time and place of the meeting.
A majority of Executive Board members may call for an Executive Board meeting following the procedures outlined in XIII(E). To issue such a call, one Executive Board member shall notify the entire board by telephone or electronic mail, giving the names of the other Board members who are joining in the call to meet.
A majority of the members of the Executive Board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. Meetings of the Executive Board shall be open to all members of the Association, but may be closed for executive session upon a two-thirds vote of Executive Board members.
XIV. Finance Committee
The Finance Committee is composed of the Co-Presidents and the Treasurer.
The duties of the Finance Committee are:
- 1. Sign checks.
- 2. Monitor the budget to ensure that expenditures follow the budget as approved by the membership.
- 3. Report on and request adjustments to the budget, if needed, from the general membership at a membership meeting.
- 4. Prepare a fiscal year budget proposal for review, amendment, and approval by the membership at a General Membership Meeting. This review and approval must take place no later than May 21st of each year.
- 5. Prepare materials and arrange for an annual audit as required by AFT bylaws.
In the absence of a Co-President or Treasurer, the Executive Board may vote to appoint an Executive Board member to fulfill the duties listed in Article XIV(B).
XV. The Committees
New standing committee shall be created through revision of this Constitution.
Special or Ad Hoc committees shall be created through membership action at a membership meeting, or by the Executive Board. The limits of authority, tasks, and duration of existence of a Special or Ad Hoc committee shall be specified at the time of its creation.
Committees shall be restricted to implementing Association policy as determined by the membership.
Committees shall develop goals in accordance with Association policy at the beginning of each academic semester. These goals shall be regularly assessed and amended as needed.
The standing committees of the Association are: Contract Enforcement, Diversity, Education, Labor Solidarity, Organizing, Political Education, and Publicity.
Any member in good standing may join any standing committee, except as noted in Article XVIII and Article XV(G).
Members of the Organizing Committee shall be elected by the Stewards’ Council.
A committee’s members shall nominate the committee chairperson or 2 co-chairs from among committee members. Their nomination will be approved or rejected by ballot at a membership meeting.
A standing committee shall be designated as “active” provided it has at least 4 members who are members of the union in good standing. A standing committee with less than 4 members shall be designated as “inactive.” An inactive standing committee may function at the discretion of and with the oversight of the Executive Board, but its chair will not be eligible to vote at Executive Board meetings.
The duties of the chair or co-chairs of Organizing, Bargaining, and Contract Enforcement are as noted in Article XII. The duties of the chair or co-chairs of the Education, Diversity, Labor Solidarity, Publicity and Political Education committees are as follows:
- 1. Call and chair meetings as needed, but no less than once per academic semester.
- 2. Recruit members on an ongoing basis.
- 3. Maintain committee files and records of activities.
- 4. Keep other bodies of the union informed of the work of the committee through reports to the Executive Board and, as necessary, to the Stewards’ Council and membership meetings.
XVI. Stewards’ Council
The Stewards’ Council shall be made up of departmental stewards, nondepartmental stewards, freelance organizers, and organizing committee members who serve as liaisons between membership and the union. Members having grievances, questions, or information relevant to the Association operations may consult initially with the appropriate organizers.
The Stewards’ Council shall meet periodically.
The Stewards’ Council shall make recommendations to the membership for consideration and action. For the purpose of performing this duty the Stewards’ Council shall have the authority to gather information by consulting, in the name of the Association, with whatever persons or bodies are deemed appropriate by the Stewards’ Council. This shall in no way bind or commit the Association in the course of such consultation.
The Stewards’ Council shall elect two co-chairs who shall each have a seat on the Executive Board. They shall appoint a recorder for each Stewards’ Council meeting. The minutes of each meeting shall be distributed to all stewards and shall be kept on file in the Association office.
XVII. The Stewards’ Council and the Organizing Committee
All members of the Organizing Committee are directly elected by the Stewards’ Council, except as noted in VII(A).
The Organizing Committee shall serve as a steering committee for the Stewards’ Council, but has no authority or supervisory power over the Stewards’ Council.
The Organizing Committee makes analyses and proposes organizing plans to the Stewards’ Council for their input and approval, and carries out organizing plans as directed by the Stewards’ Council.
Members of the Organizing Committee mentor stewards and serve as lead organizers.
Stewards and Organizing Committee members are equally responsible for organizing tasks and the success of organizing plans.
XVIII. Bargaining Team
In collective bargaining, the Association shall be represented by a Bargaining Team. The members of the Bargaining Team shall be elected by ballot at a General or Special Membership Meeting during the semester prior to the beginning of negotiations. If a Bargaining Team member resigns, the team may elect a temporary replacement by majority vote, until a ballot can be held at the next membership meeting. The Bargaining Team shall dissolve upon the effective date of the new contract.
The maximum number of members of the Bargaining Team shall be nine.
A member of the Bargaining Team may be recalled by a 3/4 vote of the Executive Board or by a 2/3 vote at a membership meeting.
XIX. Bargaining Committee
The Bargaining Committee shall consist of the Bargaining Team and the Executive Board.
The Bargaining Committee must approve by majority vote any major changes in the bargaining platform that relate to the overall goals of bargaining.
Dues shall be as determined by a majority vote on a ballot of the membership.
The membership, by a majority vote at a membership meeting, shall set what percentage of all dues received by the Association shall be placed in the out-of-state fund.
XXI. Amendments to the Constitution
Any member or members seeking to amend the constitution shall present in writing a copy of the proposed amendment to the Recording Secretary. The Recording Secretary shall notify the Co-Presidents immediately of such a proposed amendment, who will ensure its consideration on the agenda of the next membership meeting.
A copy of the proposed amendment shall be given to each union member via newsletter or electronic distribution no less than 7 days before the membership meeting at which it will be considered.
If a majority of those members attending and voting at the membership meeting vote in favor of the proposed amendment, the proposed amendment shall then be voted upon by the membership in a ballot prepared and supervised by the Recording Secretary. The ballot must be sent to all members within 10 days of the membership meeting that passes the proposed amendment. Copies of the full text of the amendment must be available at all polling sites. The amendment shall pass if 2/3 of the ballots cast are in the affirmative.
If any member presents to the Recording Secretary a petition to amend the Constitution with the signatures of 20% of the membership, the proposed amendment shall be put to a vote by the entire membership, without consideration at a general membership meeting, in a ballot prepared and supervised by the Recording Secretary. A copy of the proposed amendment must be sent via newsletter or electronic distribution to all members no less than 3 days prior to the start of balloting. The ballot must be sent to all members within 10 days of receipt of the petition. Copies of the full text of the amendment must be available at all polling sites. The amendment shall pass if 2/3 of the ballots cast are in the affirmative.
The constitutional revision ballot shall be overseen by a committee of 3 trustees, each from a different employing department. Trustees will be chosen by the membership at the meeting referenced in XXI(C); or, in the case of a petition as noted in XXI(D), by the Executive Board. Trustees shall be members in good standing who are not officers of the union. Additionally, any member associated with the balloting shall not be eligible to serve as a trustee. The trustees shall be responsible for reviewing the voting procedures and validating the ballot count. Trustees shall make the ballot results known to the membership.
F. Upon passage of any constitutional amendment, the Recording Secretary shall amend the Constitution as required.
A. Legitimate forms of mailing and publishing shall include both paper mail and electronic mail.