Wisconsin’s Teaching Assistants’ Association, the first grad student union in the country, spearheaded the fight against Scott Walker’s union-busting bill. (Reuters/Allen Fredrickson)
1. Can Students Save Mississippi’s Last Abortion Clinic?
The weekend before the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, students from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, met with campus organizers at the Feminist Majority Foundation to prepare for the arrival of extremist anti-choice protesters at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Anti-choice legislators have targeted the JWHO with the Target Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP, law, requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges to the local hospitals. Unfortunately the local Jackson hospital boards refuse to admit JWHO abortion doctors, making it impossible for the clinic to comply with the new regulation. While the clinic is waging a legal battle in court, the feminist group at Millsaps is working with FMF and Jackson State University student leaders to provide escorts to help clinic patients avoid harassment and to hold up pro-choice signs in support of the clinic.
2. Walker Be Damned, Wisconsin Grad Students Haven’t Left the Table
The Teaching Assistants’ Association, the labor union for grad student workers at the University of Wisconsin that was central to the occupation of the state capitol in 2011, is initiating its most ambitious campaign since losing legal bargaining rights after Governor Scott Walker’s union-busting law. The onerous “segregated fees” that are levied on top of tuition impose an additional $1,100 burden on students per year (and rising), representing a roughly ten percent pay cut on grad workers’ already paltry yearly earnings. The TAA has entered informal bargaining to either have these fees waived or to raise salaries sufficiently to offset the segregated fee burden. This is by no means an unreasonable demand, nor an undue burden on the university’s finances: With increasing segregated fee costs, increasing healthcare costs and stagnant wages, the average TA has lost nearly $1,600 in annual take-home pay since 2002.