The terms "graduate assistant" and "graduate assistants" and "teaching assistant" and "teaching assistants" shall include all University personnel holding the titles of graduate assistant and teaching assistant.
Excluded are all officers of administration including deans, associate deans, assistant deans, assistants to deans, academic directors who are not engaged in instruction or research for fifty percent or more of their time during the academic year, visiting professors, honorary professors, fellows, all members of the coadjutant staff, all those persons who administer or help to administer a major academic unit or program of the University, and all other employees of the University.
TA-GA Frequently Asked Questions
- What does the AAUP do at Rutgers and how are TA/GAs involved?
- What has the AAUP done for TA/GAs recently?
- Do TA/GAs really need a union?
- Are there other TA/GA unions?
- What do TA/GAs do as part of the Rutgers AAUP?
- Does the AAUP represent me even if I am not a member?
- If the AAUP represents me no matter what I do, why should I bother to join?
- Can I join a union in the United States if I am here on a foreign student visa?
- How much are dues?
1. What does the AAUP do at Rutgers and how are TA/GAs involved?
The AAUP has represented full-time faculty in negotiations at Rutgers since 1970; TA/GAs were added to the bargaining unit in 1972; Rutgers is the only place in the country where full-time faculty and TA/GAs are in the same bargaining unit, making Rutgers the largest AAUP chapter in the nation; Since 1988, the AAUP has also represented part-time faculty at Rutgers in a separate bargaining unit; The Rutgers Council of AAUP Chapters has nearly 5,000 members and maintains a dual identity as a professional association and bargaining agent, enhancing the quality of education at Rutgers by representing member interests and protecting their rights as employees.
2. What has the AAUP done for TA/GAs recently?
During the recently completed negotiations for a new contract, the AAUP made the issue of TA/GA compensation one of the top priorities. In recognition of the major contributions that teaching/graduate assistants make to undergraduate education at Rutgers, the AAUP fought to improve TA/GA salaries. As a result, all TA/GAs will receive a 10% increase for the 2004-2005 academic year. With increases of 8% in each of the final two years of the contract, the starting TA/GA salary at the end of the contract will be $18,347.
In addition, all TA/GAs will no longer be required to pay student fees and will receive a refund of student fees that were paid in the 2003-2004 academic year.
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3. Do TA/GAs really need a union?
As graduate student employees, we are both students and workers. As employees, it makes sense for us to have a say in our working conditions. As full-time employees, we receive a tuition waiver and we are members of the state benefits plan (just like the full-time faculty). In addition, we have a fifteen-hour per week workload limit and we have formal policies regarding appointment and reappointment. These need to be protected and a strong AAUP is the only way to do so. As students, there are equally compelling reasons to join the AAUP. Better working conditions will allow us to have the time and energy to attend our own classes and conduct our own research. Most importantly, better working conditions and more time to devote to our own work will make us better teachers. As both students and employees, we have an interest in the academic excellence of Rutgers University. The Rutgers AAUP strives to unite all faculty-full-time, part-time, and TA/GAs--into a strong and effective association that works to improve the overall quality of education at Rutgers through collective bargaining and professional development.
4. Are there other TA/GA unions?
Yes. While Rutgers is the only place where TA/GAs are in the same bargaining unit with full-time faculty, graduate student employees on over twenty-five campuses are legally recognized. These include the universities of Wisconsin, Michigan, Oregon, Massachusetts, SUNY, and Iowa. In 1999, teaching/graduate assistants on all 8 University of California campuses won elections for recognition. After many years of fighting, this was a major victory for graduate student employee organizing everywhere. In addition, there are several recognition drives underway, including those at the University of Illinois, Temple, Yale, and NYU (the first two private schools attempting to win recognition).
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5. What do TA/GAs do as part of the Rutgers AAUP?
The TA/GA Steering Committee is the primary TA organization within the AAUP. Any TA/GA who is interested is invited to join. The committee works to promote TA/GA issues within the organization and throughout the university as a whole. In the past, we have sponsored several different kinds of events. We have held a "grade-in" to demonstrate the kinds of work that TA/GAs do. We participated in the CGEU National Day of Action in 1997 by hosting a forum on the future of academic labor that included guest speakers and local faculty, as well as TAs and PTLs from Rutgers.
The TA/GA Steering Committee co-hosts joint monthly meetings with the Part-Time Lecturer Faculty Chapter (PTLFC). Given that both groups have many mutual concerns, we think it makes sense to begin working more closely together. The joint monthly meeting are very informal and give us the opportunity to meet other TA/GAs and PTLs, to discuss issues that are relevant to both groups, and to consider questions that anyone might have.
6. Does the AAUP represent me even if I am not a member?
Yes it does. A fee is deducted from your paycheck to help pay for union representation, but this does not mean you are automatically a member. To become a dues-paying member, you must complete a membership form. The dues for TA/GAs are quite low, only 0.5% of your salary. The representation fee is 85% of dues, so as you can see the difference between fees is very small.
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7. If the AAUP represents me no matter what I do, why should I bother to join?
There are many reasons why you should become a member of the AAUP as a TA/GA. You will receive regular mailings (including our newsletter) that will keep you informed of faculty and TA/GA issues at Rutgers. In addition, you will receive a subscription to Academe, AAUP's national bi-monthly publication that will keep you informed on the most important issues in higher education today. For example, recent special issues have focused on topics like access to higher education, intellectual property rights, and part-time faculty-all issues that faculty and TA/GAs should be aware of. Most importantly, membership gives you a voice in AAUP activities at Rutgers. Being a member will allow you to vote for officers, vote to ratify the contract, and it also adds to the overall strength of the organization. If you are not a member, then you risk having your future as a graduate student employee at Rutgers decided for you. Therefore, even though the AAUP represents you no matter what you do, that representation is much more effective if you join.
8. Can I join a union in the United States if I am here on a foreign student visa?
Yes. The visa requirement that foreign students may only accept employment associated with the University they attend in no way compromises the right to belong to a Union that represents them in the work place. Federal labor law guarantees that union membership is completely confidential.
9. How much are dues?
Dues are .50% of your salary. Non-members pay a representation fee which amounts to 85% of dues (.425%). It costs only pennies a day to be a member.
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