Union Activism for Those Who Don't Like Talking To Strangers

We like to say that our union, like the University, works because we do. As a democratic, member-driven union, the TAA functions because of the involvement and activism of our membership.

At the meta-level (a term only a grad student could use!), the TAA works through organizing, collective bargaining, and political action to advance the priorities of grad student workers. Perhaps most importantly among this is organizing*, which we do a lot of on the implementation level through having one-on-one conversations with fellow grad student workers about the role and work of our union.

While organizing like this, through individual-level conversations, is incredibly important for the success of our union, it is not the only program of import. To do good organizing, there are a lot of ‘behind-the-scenes’ projects, and these are critical to the success of the union too.

Some people do not like to engage in the face-to-face conversations with ‘strangers’ implicit in organizing. While we would argue that anyone can do it and that everyone should, we recognize that some people want to contribute to their union without doing this kind of work. And that’s cool too.

Right now, as part of our ongoing organizing efforts around contract negotiations, Segregated Fees, and building a stronger union, the TAA has a number of projects on which members can get involved without going out to speak with strangers.

We want you to get involved with our union! If being involved in projects that don’t require speaking with strangers sounds like something in which you might be interested, just fill out this quick online form.

A fellow union activist will be in touch with you to get you informed about the project(s) you might want to be involved with and to get you plugged in.

For example, we are working on updating and re-building our current membership database. We need activists to help verify and input data as well as to manage what’s already there. As another example, some folks have expressed an interest in getting new TAA bulletin boards up in every department (guaranteed by our contract). And there are always a variety of administrative and organizing-support tasks and projects on which to work.

The most important thing is that you get involved somehow. For those who want to dive in with organizing fellow grad student workers or to get involved with a union committee (e.g. Bargaining, Contract Enforcement, Stewards’ Council), awesome! For those who want to be involved in the union through projects without organizing fellow grad student workers through direct canvassing, that’s cool too. Again, we just want you to get involved with your union.

With any questions, please be in touch with our Co-Presidents, Peter Rickman and Katie Lindstrom.

* A good working definition of “organizing” is the changing of structural power dynamics by connecting and activating networks of people, resources, and ideas.