Wisconsin at Madison, which in 1969 became the first campus to have a TA union. At UNC, the union has what Thomas calls a "fuzzy" status because North Carolina doesn't recognize collective bargaining units among state employees. The union members can't negotiate or enforce the terms ofa contract; however, they can raise awareness about the changing needs of graduate students, he said. The union's immediate goals include pushing for increased TA minimum stipends, changing the way child care is allocated, estab- lishing a grievance procedure and ealing with health-care issues. Union members want to be treated more like their peers at other schools where unions have a voice. The union's Web site contends that TAs at the University of Cal- ifornia and the University of Wis- consin receive tuition waivers and pay no student fees. At the Uni- versity of Michigan, student fees have been capped at $80 and tuition has been waived. Students at Wisconsin and Michigan are privy to the same comprehensive health-care options as faculty. Michigan TAs have received guaranteed wage hikes in the past several years and eventually will have their wages driven by faculty cost ofliving. Yearly TA salaries at Wisconsin range from $19,267 to $26,816, compared with UNe's range of$8,400 to $17,000. So far, Thomas deems the union effective despite its con- straints. In February 2001, union members joined the Association of Graduate English Students in marching to South Building, where they presented Arts and Sci- ences Dean Palm with a petition for a pay hike. In tote was their "Report on the Need for a Liv- able Wage for Teaching Fellows," which outlined the financial bur- dens plaguing graduate students, who teach 67 percent ofthe Eng- lish department's undergraduate
courses, according to the report.
Brian Thomas has
balanced jobs and
his doctorate in p
hIlosophy for five
Fraternizing with faculty
Not all faculty members agree
on the status of graduate students.
Graduate students are at UNC to
get higher degrees, not to be full-
fledged instructors, critics of the
union effort say. Still, many recog-
nize the need to keep stipends
high enough to lure the brightest
The quality of grad students
ultimately can affect the quality of
the classes to which they con-
tribute, some professors say.
CAR0 LIN A A LU M N IREV lEW