TAA membership and participation

What has the TAA done for me?

In the past 30 years, the TAA has successfully won:

  • a full tuition waiver
  • free, comprehensive health care, including basic dental care
  • a grievance procedure to ensure fair resolution of work-related problems
  • sick leave and family emergency leave
  • workload limits and overwork protection
  • paid, department-specific teacher training
  • posting of all jobs to ensure equal access to employment
  • child care assistance
  • significant gains towards PA-TA pay equity

Which workers does the TAA contract cover?

Our contract covers all graduate employees which includes RAs, Fellows, GAs, PAs, and TAs.

Lecturers are NOT protected by the contract between the UW and the TAA. Lecturers don’t necessarily receive tuition remission. Ask your department whether or not they will guarantee in writing continued payment of your tuition. Lecturers don’t necessarily receive health insurance benefits. Again, ask your department to state in writing its policy on paying for your health insurance premiums. After 440 consecutive work hours as a Lecturer, you will be re-classified as “academic staff” and will no longer be eligible to participate in GHC or other health insurance plans as a graduate student. Lecturerships may or may not be counted toward your “guaranteed support.” Again, ask your department to clarify its policy in writing.

Can international students join the TAA?

Yes! In the 40-year history of the TAA, no international student has had any problems with the university or with her visa status as a result of her involvement with the union. It is against the law for the university to discriminate against anyone as a result of her union activity, and union activity cannot be taken into account when the INS considers your VISA. The TAA is here to protect and represent you, and is the best resource for you if you run into complications with your job. By getting involved, you can make sure that the TAA can represent the full diversity of the union!

Will my union membership or activity affect visa applications I might make in the future?

No. It is against the law for the Department of Homeland Security to even ask you about your union membership or your legal union activities or to take them into account in considering your visa application.

I’m a member. How do I get an item on the agenda for a General Membership Meeting?

If you have an issue of pressing concern you’d like to see the TAA membership address at a meeting, contact your department steward and ask her/him to forward your agenda item to the TAA Executive Board for inclusion in the meeting agenda. You can also contact any of the elected officers directly. The agenda is also typically posted in the Facebook invite for the next upcoming GMM. Join the TAA’s Facebook page by searching for “TAA.”

Health Insurance

How do I sign up for health and dental insurance?

Any graduate worker with a 33% (or higher) appointment is eligible for the health insurance benefits negotiated in the TAA contract. Ask your department administrative assistant for benefits information on how to sign up. There are some dental benefits available under this policy, but there is not separate dental insurance sign-up.

Be sure that you sign up within 30 days after the start-date of your job! This deadline is very strict and controlled by Wisconsin State law. If you do not sign up for insurance during this window, you will not have another opportunity until you have a 30-day break in employment with the university. (For example, if you do not work for the university during the summer, this is considered a “break” in employment; you can then enroll the next fall as if you were a new employee, assuming you again have a 33% or higher TAship or PAship.)

Do I have to pay for SHIP (Student Health Insurance Program)?

If you have a 33% (or higher) TA or PA position, you are eligible for the health insurance plans negotiated by the union. If you do NOT have such a position, and you are U.S. citizen, you are not required to sign up for SHIP. You may do so if you choose, in order to obtain some level of health insurance coverage. International students, however, are required by law to maintain health insurance. So, if you are an international student without a 33% (or higher) TA or PA position, the university will automatically enroll you in SHIP. In order to opt out of SHIP, you must file a waiver indicating that you have alternate health insurance.

How can I switch from one health insurance plan to another?

If you would like to switch to a different health insurance plan, there are some strict rules. You must file the request to switch plans during the “Dual Choice Enrollment Period” during the month of October. See the “Its Your Choice” booklet for more details.

Your request to switch plans will then become effective on the following January 1st. The request is filed by filling out a new Health Insurance Application. Health insurance forms can be ordered from the UW Employee Benefits Services website, or you can obtain one from your department benefits coordinator.

If you want to switch plans at any other time, you may do so, but this will trigger a 180-day waiting period for pre-existing conditions. This means that any condition deemed by the insurance company to have existed prior to your new insurance start date will not be covered. (Pregnancy is usually an exception to this pre-existing condition rule.) You should consult with a UW Employee Benefits specialist about the full range of implications of switching outside the “Dual-Choice” enrollment period.

How can I add my new spouse or baby to my health insurance plan?

You can add your spouse or child to your existing health insurance plan without penalty by submitting a Health Insurance Application within 30 days of the marriage or birth of the child. The request is filed by filling out a new Health Insurance Application. Health insurance forms can be ordered from the UW Employee Benefits Services website, or you can obtain one from your department benefits coordinator.

We recommend that employees who experience a “qualifying event” (e.g., marriage, divorce, birth of a child) consult with a UW Employee Benefits specialist, as there may also be other benefits that are impacted.

Tuition Remission

Who gets a tuition waiver?

All graduate workers with semester appointments of 33.3% or higher receive a full tuition waiver. (Note that you cannot be assigned an appointment of less than 33.3% without your consent.) Hourly PAs are eligible for a tuition reimbursement if, by the end of the semester, they’ve worked the equivalent of a 33.3% semester appointment. (You must still, however, pay the tuition at the beginning of the semester.)

How can I receive tuition remission during the summer?

You are eligible to receive tuition remission during the summer if you either (a) received tuition remission during the previous spring semester, or (b) work a 33.3% appointment for at least eight weeks during the summer.

What should I do if I get a tuition bill?

First, contact your department and verify that it has sent a “Remission Authorization Card” to the Registrar. If they haven’t, you can ask them to submit one, or you can take one to Window 24 in the Peterson Building and ask them to correct your bill.

If your department has sent in the Remission Authorization Card and you get a bill for tuition, contact the Fee Section at the Registrar’s Office at 165 Peterson or call 262-2367. If they can’t help, call Mike Rothstein, university contract administrator, at 263-2511.