Our union is at a critical juncture. The next year will be a pivotal moment in the TAA’s history. We have fought hard over the course of the last year against the attacks on our rights to have a voice in determining our working conditions and higher education funding in this state. Our union is still strong, but the fight is far from over. We need to get Scott Walker out of office this June and work to rebuild what the right-wing has dismantled in the past 16 months.

The university works because we do. We are the voice for graduate student employees and for all graduate students who desire tuition-remitting employment. As graduate assistants, we teach almost half of all the lectures, discussions and labs combined on campus and are integral to the university surpassing the $1 billion mark in research expenditures for the first time in 2010 (data from the UW-Madison Data Digest 2010-2011).

The fight back against cuts to higher education. At the same time that UW-Madison is ranked 27th among universities globally, in the past year we have seen unprecedented cuts to funding for the university’s basic educational mission. Within this context, we need to do a better job at articulating why we are better off advocating together for fair working conditions and draw connections to undergraduate learning.

My Vision for the Union:
As TAA co-president here is what I would work for:
➤ Expanding our reach into departments around campus and growing our membership.
➤ Creatively planning for non-wages working condition wins we can push for (e.g. increased funding for TA training, lower course caps, the seg fee payment plan we won in our last negotiated contact, greater transparency in position postings and hiring processes, more sick days to bank, departments limiting enrollments to students they can fund).
➤ Bargaining with the state to the full extent of the law (i.e. right now that means over wages).
➤ Being a union that is open to the full range of tactics and strategies. For example, as co-president I would try to meet with the Chancellor and the deans of the various colleges to keep lines of communication open.
➤ Maintaining an internal budget in which expenses match income.

About Me
I am a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Life Sciences Communication in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and will be taking my prelim exams this May. I received both my undergraduate and master’s degrees from the UW as well. Like you, I’ve worked hard during my graduate career to manage teaching and research responsibilities. I recently had my first solo-authored peer reviewed article accepted for publication. I have also presented at the major association conferences in my field.

Before attending graduate school, I worked in community and alternative media. I was a union steward with the NOLSW Local 2320, negotiating contracts and grievances. For the TAA, I was co-chair of the Publicity Committee and Defend Wisconsin, actively managing the TAA’s public image. Our communication efforts helped keep concerned Wisconsinites and supporters beyond the state up-to-date with the latest news from the Capitol occupation.

I consider myself first and foremost an educator and researcher. But, I recognize that in order to fight for an accessible, world-class educational institution we must stand together. Collectively our voices are stronger.

Thank you for your consideration.

In solidarity!

Jill Hopke

How to Vote
A link to the pdf of the ballot was emailed to members on Thursday, April 19th. Youl have a two-week window to print your ballot, vote and return it to the TAA office, 254 W. Gilman Street (right off State Street). In order to vote you do need to be a current dues paying member. In order to renew your membership or sign-up, visit here.

Ballots are due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 3rd. If you are a member and need to ballot, contact me and I’ll make sure you get a copy.