Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


TAA: Accept deal on table

UW-Madison’s Teaching Assistants are at an impasse in their
contract negotiations with an offer on the table that would allow
them to maintain a reasonable pay level and keep their grasp on one
of the most comprehensive health care plans a Wisconsin citizen can

Under threat of their first job action in 24 years, the nation’s
oldest recognized Teaching Assistant’s Union is facing an offer on
the table from Wisconsin’s Office of State Employee Relations that
would require TAs to pay a $9 monthly premium for individual health
benefits and a $22 monthly premium for family coverage.

The TAA, to which just over 60 percent of TAs belong, claims
that in order to remain competitive and attract quality personnel,
UW must fully pay health benefits to its employed graduate
students. Yet the prospect of paying a $9 monthly premium as a part
time employee would be salivating for many private sector
employees, and is even endorsed as politically acceptable by the
AFL-CIO, the TAA’s parent union.


Representatives from the state’s negotiating team have
repeatedly told The Badger Herald that the threat of job action on
the part of the TAs will not change their stance in the negotiating
process; they claim that because all other employee units that
bargain with the state biannually for salary and benefits are being
asked to pay for a portion of their health care premiums, the TAA
must not be granted an exception. The TAA counters that the only
way they would be willing to pay this health care premium is if the
state were to offer a sufficient salary increase.

State negotiators want state employees to act as consumers when
choosing health plans, thereby holding down costs associated with
providing top-notch health insurance to the employees and their
families. In turn, health insurers will be forced to compete ?
creating more efficient, less expensive coverage. This
private-sector model of health care provision is designed to hold
down the enormous cost of ensuring Wisconsin’s public employees as
health care costs nationwide continue to increase.

The TAA maintains “free” health care is an obligation it is owed
by the state because under their terms of employment at UW, it was
a guaranteed benefit. However, this is the precise reason contracts
are re-negotiated each biennium. The bill for TAs health coverage
must be footed somewhere. Eventually, it will land at the feet of
Wisconsin taxpayers.

We urge the TAs to make the small sacrifice of paying a $9 per
month health care premium, end the negotiating impasse, make the
responsible choice for future health care costs, and quell the
chatter of an illegal and potentially catastrophic work

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