Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


TAs and PAs walk out, ready to face circumstances

The Teaching Assistants’ Association voted to continue
plans for the two-day walkout of classes and work at a Monday night
general-membership meeting that drew more than 500 graduate

Many students will see their TAs and University of Wisconsin
project assistants walking picket lines around academic buildings
starting at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday and continuing through Wednesday
night. TAs and PAs in departments affected by the strike plan on
returning to their positions Thursday, but the threat of a grade
strike at the conclusion of the semester still lingers. TAA
co-president Boian Popunkiov said the grade strike could be called
off at a follow-up meeting; but as of today, he said the TAA
intends to go forward with the plan.

UW said on its news website that administration will be able to
deliver students’ grades through designating a task force
obligating TAs and PAs to hand over undergraduates’ scores at the
conclusion of the semester. However, David LaCroix, a TAA steward
from UW’s English department, doubted the task force would
even form effectively, let alone successfully attain the


The job action results from 10 months of TAA and Office of State
Employee Relations negotiations that failed to find common ground
for a contract. However, TAA representatives still plan on
scheduling bargaining sessions with OSER negotiators after the work
stoppage, which will affect more than 1,200 TAs and PAs.

The state’s most recent offer during Monday’s
bargaining session redistributed some of the 4.6 percent average
salary increases throughout different classifications of TAs and
PAs. OSER also asked the graduate-student employees to contribute
monthly health-care premiums of $9 for individuals and $22.50 for
families until July, where the co-payments would increase to $11.00
and $27.50 for individuals and families, respectively.

However, Popunkiov said this was not enough for the union
membership to accept, citing health care as a “main
issue” of contention.

“We have not been able to reach a contact with the state
after 10 months of bargaining, so the membership voted to go ahead
with the strike,” Popunkiov said from a prepared statement.
He added some of the members would still receive pay cuts under
OSER’s newest proposal “before inflation.”

However, Popunkiov acknowledged Wisconsin’s budget crisis
and added that the TAA’s proposal, which would eliminate
health-care premiums but offer a smaller salary increase, would
actually save the state more than $300,000.

“[The important thing to note is] we’re saving
taxpayer money,” he said.

Popunkiov also stressed the importance of having such a strong
showing at their meeting, saying this was a big statement sent to
state legislators.

“This is the largest membership meeting in any
grad-employee union history,” Popunkiov said.

Reporters also quizzed Popunkiov on whether the 500 members that
showed up accurately depicted the 1,200 about to be affected by the
work action.

“I think this is a very strong voice to go forward with
the plan,” he responded.

Popunkiov asked all students to “walk in solidarity with
us” and also urged all campus and community members to
“respect the picket lines.”

UW Provost Peter Spear thought it unfortunate the TAA voted to
strike, but added students are still welcome to go to class.

“It’s unfortunate they weren’t able to reach a
deal with the state and the TAA,” Spear said. He added the
TAA promised him the picket lines would be “peaceful and

UW professors are reacting to the planned walkout differently
— some have cancelled class, others plan to continue class in
the lecture halls, and others have moved their classes outside of
the picketed buildings to Bascom Hill, Library Mall or a variety of
downtown locations.

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