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.
It has been quite a year in Wisconsin and I am proud to have lived in these times. It has not been a moment to stand on the sidelines of history.
We have lost much but I believe over the course of the coming years will gain much more in terms of social progress. Here is an excerpt of a blog post I authored for Defend Wisconsin:
A year ago the system of social trust in Wisconsin began to come unraveled. Today marks the one-year anniversary of Gov. Walker’s announcement of the Budget Repair Bill, now Wisconsin Act 10, effectively ending 50 years of public sector collective bargaining rights.
I believed a year ago that we would “kill the bill.” I believed if we made our voices heard, we could appeal reason on the part of lawmakers. If we spoke about the hardships this bill would cause around the state for families, for students, for ordinary Wisconsinites that go to work everyday with faith in the system, our government would listen to us. Continue reading
I recently wrote an letter to the editor of the Badger Herald, one of UW-Madison’s student newspapers, about why students should support the statewide drive to recall Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
In his short tenure as governor, Walker has attacked more than just the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. He has cut more than $315 million in funding to higher education, directly affecting learning on this campus. He has cut K-12 education to the tune of more than $2 billion, hurting Wisconsin’s youth before they even have a shot at getting here. He has cut assistance to the neediest in our state, by slashing BadgerCare. And the list goes on.
You can read more and learn how you can get involved in the recall effort between now and January on Defend Wisconsin.
In related news, Wisconsin led the nation in job losses for October. That’s not just proportionally but in raw numbers, leaving our state a long way off from the 250,000 jobs Walker campaigned on creating in the private sector.
So it’s a good thing for Wisconsin that United Wisconsin, the umbrella group collecting recall petitions, announced today that Wisconsinites (myself included) have collected more than 300,000 signatures in only 12 days. Let’s keep it up!
Students and faculty are heading back to classes today at UW-Madison in what has been a tumultuous year in Wisconsin. The effects of Wisconsin Act 10, which strips public sector workers (including graduate assistants) of our collective bargaining rights, are only now beginning come to pass.