TAA wins paid family leave for graduate assistants

TAA wins paid family leave for graduate assistants

[Press Release]

AFT-Wisconsin Local Leaders Applaud UW Madison and UW System for Meeting Unions’ Paid Parental Leave Demands

The leadership of AFT-Wisconsin and its affiliated unions, after months of concerted pressure by the Teaching Assistants Association and United Faculty and Academic Staff of UW-Madison, applauded the administration of UW-Madison and the Universities of Wisconsin for guaranteeing six weeks of paid parental leave for UW system workers.  Though there is still more to do to ensure the fully inclusive system of paid leave UW workers deserve, union leaders praised the move as a major step in the right direction.  

“We are proud to say our voices were heard,” said Madeline Topf, graduate worker at UW-Madison and co-president of the TAA.  “Labor unions representing graduate students, faculty, and staff demanded paid leave for all UW employees; our power is undeniable when we work together.”

 “This policy excludes some graduate students and does not include medical leave,” said Nina Denne, graduate worker and co-president of the TAA. “We are confident that our paid leave petition, which collected over 700 signatures,  our Valentine’s day paid leave rally, and the support of Wisconsin legislators helped amplify this issue. We will continue to fight for comprehensive, 12 week paid family & medical leave for all graduate student workers.”

“Paid leave will benefit everyone who works at UW–Madison, but it wouldn’t have happened without the organized union members whose tireless activism turned longstanding promises into real benefits,” said Chad Alan Goldberg, a professor at UW-Madison and President of UFAS.  “We can do better, and we will do better when more of us join our unions, but this is an outstanding start. Our task for the future is to improve benefits and spread them throughout the UW system.”

“Over the past month, UFAS members organized signatures from 60% of department chairs in the College of Letters & Sciences, 87% in College of Engineering, and 50% in College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, demonstrating broad support for a paid leave policy across campus,” said Robert Hawkins, UFAS Organizing Committee chair.  “We sent a clear message to the Chancellor that paid leave can’t be kicked down the road again.” 

“The decision by UW Madison and the Universities of Wisconsin shows that organizing works,” said Jon Shelton, professor at UW-Green Bay and President of AFT-Wisconsin.  “Six locals, including the TAA, have asked campus administrations to agree to a meet-and-confer relationship so that we can more permanently channel proposals to them to create a more equitable workplace.  This paid parental leave policy is an excellent example of how worker voice creates a win-win situation.  We ask members of the public to help make sure UW system administration knows that they must listen to the collective voice of faculty and staff by signing on to our solidarity letter, which calls on administration to agree to a formal meet-and-confer relationship so we can help UW System develop more winning policies like this one.  As this clear win for our unions shows us, we can build the public university system our faculty, staff, and students deserve in this state.”