Graduate employees with children face special challenges in their roles as students and employees of UW. Since its founding in 1969, the Teaching Assistants’ Association has worked to make the UW a diverse academic community, and advocating for the needs of student and grad employee parents has been an important part of the union’s efforts. Within the union, parent members have been a consistent voice for affordable health insurance, family medical leave, and maternity/paternity leave, to name just a few issues.
Through an informed and active membership, and through the union’s contract, the TAA helps make UW-Madison a more family-friendly and inclusive campus. In contract negotiations, the union has won additional funding for members’ child care needs, health insurance for families, family leave, and other protections that help grad employees with children (see below for more information on family-related contact provisions). Active and organized union members have consistently challenged UW administration to live up to their promises and to expand support for families on campus.
Childcare during TAA meetings
If you would like to attend general membership meetings and need to arrange child care to do so, the TAA offers child care through a partnership with the UW-Madison Campus Women’s Center. Please contact the TAA office at least a week in advance of any general membership meeting to arrange for child care.
Child care may be available for regular TAA committee and caucus meetings on an as-requested basis. Contact the TAA office for specifics.
The TAA Parent Issues Caucus
The TAA Parent Issues Caucus is place for concerned union members to meet, share information about issues facing graduate employee parents on campus, and work to educate and organize to improve the experience of UW-Madison parents and children. The caucus works to ensure that the TAA as a whole remains aware of and focused on family issues in its bargaining, organizing, and advocacy campaigns.
Recent caucus projects include department-level efforts to improve the climate for grad student parents, as well as a survey of parent members of the TAA.
Serve as a TAA representative on the UW’s Campus Child Care Committee
The TAA has the right to appoint union members to represent the union on the University Child Care Committee. This group, made up of UW administrators, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and others, makes policy recommendations on the future of child care options for the entire UW community. Contact the TAA office if you’d like more information about representing your fellow union members with children on this important committee.
TAA Contract Information for Families
The TAA contract includes a number of benefits and protections that are especially important to members with families. Below are descriptions of some of the most significant contract provisions with links to additional information and the specific contract language.
Child Care Funding
In each two-year TAA contract, the union negotiates an amount of money that is contributed to the Child Care Tuition Assistance Program, administered through the Office of Child Care and Family Resources. These funds are made available as grants to eligible TAs and PAs to cover a portion of their child care costs, and also support OCCFR’s general programs.
Health Insurance Plans
Through the TAA contract all UW-Madison TAs and PAs working on a 33.3% or higher appointment may sign-up for health insurance coverage through Wisconsin’s state employee insurance group. Spouses and children can also receive coverage and most plans also include pre- and postnatal care (check with your health insurance provider to confirm specific coverage).
Under the 2001-03 contract extension (which remains in force until the new 2003-07 contracts take effect) no TA or PA should be required to pay monthly health insurance premiums. If you believe you are being charged for premiums in error, please contact the TAA office immediately. However, once the 2003-07 contracts go into effect, a new monthly premium rate structure will also take effect.
For more details on each of the available health insurance plans, check with the UW-Madison Office of Employee Compensation and Benefits Services.
Sick and Family Leave (Article XI, Sections 5 and 6)
The TAA contract provides for a range of paid and unpaid leave options:
- Paid sick leave
All TAs and PAs working on an appointed basis receive a number of sick days based on the length of their appointments. See Article XI, Section 5A, 5B, and 5E of the contract for details on the number of sick days for which you are eligible, and on the use of paid sick leave. Remember that you are not required to find a substitute to replace yourself during a sick day, and if you DO arrange for a substitute ahead of time and without your employing department’s assistance, there is no need to use a sick day for the absence.
- Paid sick leave for care of a family member
Paid sick leave days can also be used for the care of an ill or injured family member. See Article XI, Section 5C, for details on the use of this benefit. While the contract does not specify that sick leave can be used to provide care for an employee’s unmarried partner, UW administration is VERY unlikely to oppose such use given their favorable position on domestic partner benefits. Contact the TAA office if you have specific questions or concerns about this issue.
- Funeral leave
Sick leave may also be used in the event of a family member’s death, in order to attend or make arrangements for funerals or other memorial services. See Article XI, Section 5D
- Unpaid leave of absence
It is possible to request an period of unpaid leave, although there is an approval process for this type of leave. See Article XI, Section 6A.
- Unpaid parental leaveTAs and PAs have a right to a period of unpaid leave following childbirth or adoption. Employees must notify their immediate supervisor at least four weeks prior to the anticipated date of childbirth/adoption. See Article XI, Section 6B for more details.
- Family medical leave
The TAA contract also requires the UW to extend the provisions of the WI state Family Leave Act and the Federal Family Medical Leave Act to eligible employees. Contact the TAA office if you have questions about eligibility.