College News

Workgroup, university to update graduate employment policies

Representatives from the Teaching Assistant Association will work with the university to update Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Graduate students may get what they call an “opportunity to improve [their] working conditions” for the first time since 2009 with the creation of the Graduate Assistant Policies and Procedures Workgroup.

UW-Madison will work with graduate students in the Office of Human Resources and representatives from different colleges to develop new policies and procedures related to graduate assistant employment, according to a university press release.

Graduate student representatives—Teaching Assistants, lab assistants, lecturers, etc.—will be appointed to the workgroup by the Associated Students of Madison. However, ASM bylaws require the body to direct all graduate employment matters to the Teaching Assistant Association.

“It’s time we get these policies and procedures in place. We look forward to working with our graduate students and other campus stakeholders throughout this process,” said Laurent Heller, UW-Madison vice chancellor for finance and administration in a press release.

The TAA petitioned for a representative on the committee, and in response Heller agreed the TAA should be present, but the graduate student appointment must go through ASM.

“This shows us there is a new resistance by the university administration towards graduate workers organizing in their own interests and its keen desire for not having the TAA represent graduate employees,” said TAA Co-President Dylan Kaufman-Obstler.

Prior to Act 10—in which the state limited collective bargaining rights for public employees—these issues were covered by contract negotiations between the TAA and the state of Wisconsin.

Potential policy changes include employee leave and employee evaluations, according to the university. The new policy will draw from the 2009 TAA contract and other relevant UW-Madison employment policies. The TAA expects to see a reform in the graduate employment grievance policy, according to Kaufman-Obstler.

“We hope there is more collaboration with graduate workers, who are going to live these policies. We sincerely hope this is an opportunity to improve our working conditions,” Kaufman-Obstler said.

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