UW-Madison administrators left a meeting with TAA members and called the police to remove them from the meeting room after reaffirming the university’s stance to deny graduate workers basic workplace rights. Police officers arrived 30 minutes after the meeting started and issued a warning of arrest.
The meeting was proposed by Vice Chancellor Heller and Dean Karpus to discuss graduate workers’ demand for a living wage, mandatory fee relief, and clear workplace policies. Interim Associate Dean Mick Miyamoto and Patrick Sheehan on behalf of Human Resources also attended the meeting.
On April 5, the TAA organized a sit-in at Bascom Hall. It took four hundred graduate workers and allies occupying the building to elicit a response from the administration. However, the response letter did not commit to improving any of the issues graduate workers raised during the sit-in while intentionally distorting their demands.
In the meeting with TAA members, Vice Chancellor Heller explicitly expressed the administration’s unwillingness to include graduate workers in the decision making process. “Not on these terms. No, I won’t,” says Vice Chancellor Heller before leaving the room. “I’m not going to stay here to listen to you read a piece of paper.”
The administrators’ action is outrageously in bad faith and a blatant violation of trust. Graduate workers have been meeting with university administrators since 2017 to improve workplace policies. Now the administration has decided to unilaterally change the policy-making procedure and cut thousands of graduate workers out of those protections.
This is graduate workers’ message to the administrators: You’ve put us in poverty, so now we’re putting you on notice. We’re evaluating your performance and giving you a chance to make up your work. Your disregard for our demands has hurt the university’s education and competitiveness.
We urge the university administration to:
- Paying graduate workers a living wage
- Providing full relief from mandatory fees for graduate workers
- Ending the discriminatory international student fee
- Approving clear, consistent and quality policies for all graduate workers
- Training administrators on policies for graduate workers
- Creating a standing committee that includes graduate workers for improving our policies