STEM, Social Science & Humanities Professional Organizations Oppose Tax Bill

When the announcement came that the House of Representatives version of the Republican Party’s tax bill would take aim at Graduate Student Tuition Waivers and Tax exceptions for student loan interest, professional organizations across the academy responded. On November 15th, 44 organizations from scientific communities, including Social Science and STEM organizations, wrote a letter to the United States Congress (see below).

When the vote passed the House, and a new Senate version of the bill was proposed, these two provisions impacting graduate students were removed. Still, according to Inside Higher Ed, the Senate version of the Republican Party tax bill would continue to have a negative impact on higher education, particularly research institutions with large endowments. In anticipation of the Senate vote, and to ward off provisions of the House bill that might be added by amendment, 41 organizations affiliation with the Social Sciences and the Humanities on November 28.

On the 29th, graduate assistants across the country, at more than 60 locations walked out, as part of a coordinate effort to oppose the provisions of the Republican Party tax bills.

As debate continued, a proposal in the Washington Post argued for removal of charges of graduate tuition altogether in response to the Republican Party House of Representatives version of the tax bill. While reviews on the proposal are mixed, at least some view the response, putting the pressure on institutions themselves, as victim blaming.

Regardless of positions and proposals in response, faculty, staff and students seem united around one clear issue: the House of Representatives version of the tax bill is worse than the Senate version, but the Senate version still has damaging provisions. For example, even the Senate version risks an increase of $1.4 trillion dollars in the deficit according to Congressional Budgetary Office analysis. The difference would then likely be mounted as an argument to cut benefits programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. As the tax bill moves to joint congressional committee, the question will be “How bad is bad? And why?”

Opposition to provisions in the legislation can still make themselves heard in committee, before the house vote, before the final vote, and before the stage where, theoretically, the president could sign the bill into law, or veto it. The legislation still has a long way to go, and opposition to it has been mounting.

 

Beer on Us! October 26th

Friends,

Want to have a beer on the Wisconsin University Union (WUU)?

We’ll spring for snacks and non-alcoholic drinks too.

There won’t be ANY speechifying and the purpose isn’t to sign people up for WUU (though discussions of union issues may well come up).

We just want to spark discussion of some current issue(s) each month, like these:

–increase in administrative jobs vs. decrease in faculty positions
–governance at UW today
–salaries from student workers through faculty to administrators
–access and affordability

 

This month we will focus on coordinating WUU & TAA efforts.

 

We will meet on Thursday, October 26th at 5:00 at Memorial Union — on the Terrace if the weather is suitable, otherwise in the Rathskeller.

September 2017: Executive Board Minutes

I: Fall Open Gatherings – organization question?

We do want to continue to put a strong emphasis on outreach. For example, coordinate with UFAS, PROFS, and AAUP.

II: Co-sponsorship

To co-sponsor an event with WUU, the board found that there should be a significant contribution from the cosponsoring institution.

III: Cases

Case #1

Case #2

IV: Minutes

Stripped down/simplified versions of several months OK’d to post on website.

V: New Business

DACA: Web updates on DACA programmed as releases through the FB page.

Discussion on Campus climate.

Beer on US: September 19th

Friends,

Want to have a beer on the Wisconsin University Union (WUU)?

We’ll spring for snacks and non-alcoholic drinks too.

There won’t be ANY speechifying and the purpose isn’t to sign people up for WUU (though discussions of union issues may well come up).

We just want to spark discussion of some current issue(s) each month, like these:

–increase in administrative jobs vs. decrease in faculty positions
–governance at UW today
–salaries from student workers through faculty to administrators
–access and affordability

We will meet monthly on the third Tuesday at 5:00 at Memorial Union — on the Terrace if the weather is suitable, otherwise in the Rathskeller.

This month that’s Tuesday September 19th.

August 2017: Executive Board Minutes

On August 8, 2017 the WUU Executive Board met at our customary location at the University Club. The following issues were discussed.:

I: We had an update on #1 and #2 member cases.

II: Update on plans for the fall. Shift toward cross-organization and open call event for building Campus Coalition.

  1. An invite has been drafted by Joe. We have organizations/organizers to contact. (UFAS/AFT/TAA).
  2. Date set for first: September 19th @5:00 pm on the Terrace.

III: Plan to move old “Notes” from Facebook page to an “Archive” page on the website, and begin “archive” of back posts.

IV: New topic “Job Title Review” to keep tabs on. The review excludes “Tenure Track” positions, and thus includes non-TT instructional staff, and all other academic staff. We note that this is the first of its kind in several decades, and that the previous such review was carried out under the auspices of pay equity, increasing the possibility for diversity hires, and other issues of equity.

IV: Move to reconvene for monthly meeting in September. Date set: September 5th 2:45 pm on the top floor of the university club.

April 2017: Executive Board Minutes

On April 4, 2017 the WUU Executive Board met at our customary location at the University Club. The following issues were discussed.:

I: Symposium Prep: Finished & Ran. Report following.

II: WUU Members Meeting Prep: 5 pm to 7 pm, April 28, Location is Memorial Union Terrace, Inside Festival Room if it rains.

  1. E-Board will engage in personal organizing to reach out to individual members
  2. Agenda/Proposals for what to do for the following year
  3. Leadership question/Elections
  4. What shall we do with the dues situation?
    1. Shall we continue to collect dues?
    2. Are there certain issues (for example “Financial Matters”) that we should restrict voting for? To dues paying members?
    3. Are there certain issues (for example topics for symposiums, members interests) that we might allow “non-dues paying members” to vote on?
  • What shape should WUU take for the coming year?
    1. Symposia?
    2. Training?
    3. Outreach?
    4. Work with local groups?

III: Details for Election (May 5): Worked into plan for Member’s meeting.

IV: Update on Confidential Members’ cases

  1. Case #1
  2. Case #2

March 2017: Executive Board Minutes

On March 14, 2017 the WUU Executive Board met at our customary location at the University Club. The following issues were discussed.:

I: Spring Symposium:

  1. Rescheduling was discussed (To avoid Passover on April 10 and 11)
  2. Potential schedule conflicts discussed
  3. Speakers list was amended
  4. Time for the symposium set

II: Elections

Potential officers and recruiting of potential officers.

III: Members meeting planning

Subject and location

IV: Point of clarification on WUU’s status

Which organizations are 501c3 vs. 501c5? (Sourcing: IRS website)

  • Restrictions on 501c3 status
  1. Regulation is that they may not be in favor of campaign activity for or against candidates
  2. Lobbying is possible, but restricted
  3. No individual shareholder may profit, such as in private interests, must be public
  4. Contributions are tax exempt
  • Benefits to WUU’s 501c5 status
  1. Dues are tax exempt (contributions aren’t)
  2. Can lobby in support of workers’ rights
  3. Lobbying may not be the primary activity
  4. If there is a financial contribution toward lobbying efforts, membership should be notified

V: Member’s case update #1

VI: WUU Archives:

  1. WUU’s ask to store notes at the University Archives was accepted

February 2017: Executive Board Minutes

On February 7, 2017 the WUU Executive Board met at our customary location at the University Club. The following issues were discussed.:

I: Compensation Symposium planning – Discussed speakers, times, co-sponsors.

II: Member Meeting planning – Discussed time, location, subject material.

III: Election planning – Discussed potential officers for upcoming elections.

IV: Strategic planning session planning –

Goal?  What is the purpose of the organization? What are our strengths, How do the        following advance our objectives? Regular events and what should they be, expand               membership, create alliances with UFAS, PROFS and AAUP, how to get feedback from        members about what should we do and nonmembers what would we do to get them to be       members?

V: Report on case before WUU – #1

VI: New Business

Concerns were raised about the Faculty Assistants Pay Scale = TA but at a lower** pay rate. – 9 mo only $29,945, Sr. $34,316. Chemistry department advertising faculty assistants with TA but cannot be a student.

NB.: We are not sure how much percentage Faculty Assistants make. Are they .50FTE or .75FTE or 1.00 FTE? We should be aware the pay rate listed for TA’s online is very misleading. For TA’s we need to divide the number listed ($32,392 minimum per annum) by 9 months, and then again by the percentage of the employment to find out the actual pre-tax rate. For example: while the online salary may lead you to think that TA’s make $3,599 pre-tax per month, the real pay is approximately $1799 minimum pre-tax/month for 50%, $1199 for 33%.

We found a recent comparable position for a Faculty Associate in School of Journalism (.50 FTE, base rate of $37,135/year). The position requires an MA degree, and non-student status, but compensation would be $1548/month pre-tax. In effect, this would confirm our intuition that we should be very wary about these “replacement positions” starting to appear. For point of reference, as a TA-Senior with a .50 FTE, one can expect about $1,500 after tax (closer to $1,900 pre-tax).

wuu.madison@gmail.com