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00:00:04 - Interviewer's Introduction 00:00:39 - TAA Contract Enforcement Committee

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Partial Transcript: What does-- What does the Contract Enforcement Committee do?

Segment Synopsis: The committee advocates for graduate students during conflicts with their appointment supervisors.

Keywords: Contract Enforcement Committee; TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; graduate students

00:01:03 - TAA prepared for 2011 Budget Repair Bill

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Partial Transcript: Now, why did the TAA get involved in the protests in the first place?

Segment Synopsis: The TAA developed an “I Heart UW” campaign for Valentine’s Day in preparation for the rumored anti-union elements of Walker’s Budget Repair Bill.

Keywords: "I Heart UW" campaign; 2011 Budget Repair Bill; public sector unions

00:01:47 - NW's first protest

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Partial Transcript: And personally why did you-- Had you been involved in any protests before this one...

Segment Synopsis: NW considers the 2011 protests to be her first protest, though she has assisted other organizations in mobilization efforts.

Keywords: activism; protests

00:02:25 - Organizing a protest

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Partial Transcript: What are some of your chief duties that go into organizing protests?

Segment Synopsis: NW’s role in organizing protests involves communicating with TAA members and the public about the importance of public sector unions and the repair bill’s potential effect on them.

Keywords: TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; activism; outreach; public sector unions

00:02:54 - Public perception of labor unions

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Partial Transcript: How well educated is the general public about the importance of unions?

Segment Synopsis: Mixed information has prevented people from understanding the benefits of unions. Private-sector unions’ losses have made public-sector unions vulnerable to criticism and misinformation.

Keywords: labor rights; labor unions; private sector unions; public sector unions; workers rights

00:04:01 - Ideological resistance to unions

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Partial Transcript: I don't know if this is a badly-phrased question, but why do you think there is so much controversy over the idea of unions?

Segment Synopsis: American individualism and opposition to collectivism make people more susceptible to arguments against unions.

Keywords: collectivism; ideology; individualism; labor rights; labor unions; workers rights

00:04:53 - Rise in TAA participation after Budget Repair Bill

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Partial Transcript: Did you, personally, in the TAA-- Was there a distinct-- Was there a rise in participation, because of the Walker bill?

Segment Synopsis: After the protests begin, the TAA saw a dramatic increase in participation in meetings, teach-ins, and other activities. Participation was higher since February than it has been during NW’s two-year tenure at UW. The Stewards’ Council has tripled since February.

Keywords: 2011 Budget Repair Bill; TAA; TAA Stewards Council; Teaching Assistants Association; teach-ins

00:06:30 - More departments are active in TAA

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Partial Transcript: Has there been a-- Have you been able to communicate across departments?

Segment Synopsis: The most active members of the TAA represented a smaller group of departments, but there are now more departments represented. There are no inter-departmental rivalries.

Keywords: TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; interdepartmental

00:07:19 - TAA strategy

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Partial Transcript: What is the main strategy that the TAA is using?

Segment Synopsis: The TAA does not have a main strategy. It is a democratic union. There are different tracks: one track has a political focus with the Democratic Party and other groups; another track focuses on horizontal organizing with student groups on campus, private-sector unions, and immigration-rights groups; and a third, more radical, track works to overturn everything about the budget repair bill.

Keywords: 2011 Budget Repair Bill; Democratic Party; TAA; TAA membership meeting; Teaching Assistants Association; activism; immigration rights; private sector unions; student organizations

00:09:23 - TAA partner organizations

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Partial Transcript: What are a couple of the specific organizations outside of the TAA that you work with?

Segment Synopsis: The TAA works with the undergraduate Student Labor Activist Coalition (SLAC), Working-Class Student Group, United Council, Associated Students of Madison (ASM), Voces La Frontera, South-Central Federation of Labor (SCFL).

Keywords: Associated Students of Madison (ASM); South-Central Federation of Labor (SCFL); Student Labor Activist Coalition (SLAC); TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; United Council; Voces La Frontera; Working-Class Student Group; labor unions

00:10:36 - TAA would have to vote for a strike

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Partial Transcript: This is obviously sort of a worst-case scenario, but, I mean, anyone who walks down State Street and sees all these signs for a general strike...

Segment Synopsis: The TAA would need to address the issue of a strike if it arises. The Stewards’ Council formed a Job Action Strike Planning group to determine whether any actions are supported by members. TAA members would need to consider financial and academic protection first.

Keywords: 2011 Budget Repair Bill; TAA; TAA Stewards Council; Teaching Assistants Association; general strike; graduate student workers; job action; labor strike; strike fund

00:12:38 - TAA strike fund

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Partial Transcript: How would that be possible, though, with the fund, because there are so many graduate student employees...

Segment Synopsis: The TAA advised its members to personally prepare themselves financially for any job actions that might be considered. These potential hardships should be considered when voting on any job actions.

Keywords: TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; graduate student workers; health insurance; labor union; strike fund

00:13:47 - More on strike funding

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Partial Transcript: How would the TAA view on students who financially could not strike?

Segment Synopsis: A strike would be a very difficult situation. Membership in a union means helping one another. The TAA could potentially receive support from other organizations. Students funded at 33% are particularly vulnerable financially.

Keywords: AFL-CIO; AFT; American Federation of Teachers; TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; labor union; strikebreaker; tuition remission

00:15:41 - Teach-out

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Partial Transcript: How much did your undergraduate students-- Did you participate in the teach-outs?

Segment Synopsis: NW TAs History 102, which is the second half of the United States survey course, which covered labor issues and collective bargaining. NW participated in the first teach-out and took her students to the Veterans Museum. She received primarily positive responses from students about the teach-out and the protests. Students who opposed the teach-out had the option to not attend. She did not participate in the second teach-out because she decided to support her students during their mid-term exam that week.

Keywords: 2011 Capitol protests; TAA; Teaching Assistant; Teaching Assistants Association; collective bargaining; labor unions; public sector unions; teach-out

00:19:10 - Undergrad students opposed to the teach-out

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember what students who were opposed to the teach-out-- Did they enunciate why they were opposed to it?

Segment Synopsis: NW did not challenge students on why they did not want to attend the teach-out. Their comments in class indicate that they may have felt that the teach-outs were unfair to them as students. NW explained to students that their education was subsidized greatly.

Keywords: 2011 Capitol protests; TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; teach-out

00:20:06 - Faculty mostly supportive

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Partial Transcript: Did you feel supported by your department at large?

Segment Synopsis: The History department has been supportive, with few exceptions. NW’s adviser, Will Jones, offered support to her individually and to graduate students and other laborers more generally. Other faculty have also been supportive, and many signed a letter in opposition to the repair bill.

Keywords: 2011 Budget Repair Bill; 2011 Capitol protests; Department of History; TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; graduate student worker; teach-in; teach-out

00:21:50 - Budgeting time in spring 2011 semester

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Partial Transcript: How have you budgeted your time. Explain some of the-- This has been an especially busy semester for you...

Segment Synopsis: NW maintained a full credit load while also working as a TA with four discussion sections, working on the Contract Enforcement Committee, protesting with the TAA, and sleeping at the Capitol. She has also gone canvassing in Fond-du-Lac to recall Senator Hopper. She prioritized protests first, students next, and her seminars last. Professors have supported her decisions. She graded and read at the Capitol.

Keywords: 2011 Budget Repair Bill; 2011 Capitol protests; Senator Randy Hopper; TAA; TAA Stewards Council; Teaching Assistants Association; Wisconsin State Capitol; canvasing; graduate school; graduate student worker; teach-in; teach-out

00:24:09 - Sleeping in the capitol building

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Partial Transcript: What was-- How many nights did you sleep in the capitol, and what was that like?

Segment Synopsis: NW only spent one full night at the Capitol, surrounded by good friends, who sang and talked. Her other nights occurred in shorter shifts manning the food table and the command center. She spent other nights staffing the TAA office.

Keywords: 2011 Capitol protests; TAA; TAA office; Teaching Assistants Association; Wisconsin State Capitol; food donation; protests

00:26:20 - Reconciling the festive atmosphere of the protest

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Partial Transcript: In terms of the capitol occupation and the protest, it felt like a really big sense of entertainment, in a way...

Segment Synopsis: Families and children attended the protest. People at the Capitol understood the seriousness of the protests. The festivity of the protests was needed for release to balance out the defeat and worry the protestors felt.

Keywords: 2011 Capitol protests; budget hearing; food donation; profiteering; walk-out

00:29:36 - TAA after the Capitol occupation

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Partial Transcript: How has the organization of the TAA or the action, how have things changed...

Segment Synopsis: Now that protestors cannot occupy the Capitol, TAA members are back in their regular routines. They continue to attend meetings multiple times each week, fighting the New Badger Partnership, and canvassing for the April 5th elections. The Stewards’ Council retained its new members. Leaving the Capitol allowed TAA leaders and members to consolidate their energy.

Keywords: 2011 Capitol protests; 2011 spring election; New Badger Partnership; TAA; TAA Stewards Council; TAA office; TAA president; Teaching Assistants Association; graduate student worker

00:31:48 - Opposition to New Badger Partnership

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Partial Transcript: Could you speak to what the TAA is against in the New Badger Partnership?

Segment Synopsis: The TAA opposed the New Badger Partnership out of concerns for privatization, transparency, the proposed tuition increase will price students out of attending UW, separating UW-Madison from other campuses in the system, and unionization. The new Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery did not hire unionized food service workers, and NW questions whether this might be a new trend. Chancellor Biddy Martin has not been clear on how the New Badger Partnership processes will play out.

Keywords: Chancellor Biddy Martin; New Badger Partnership; UW tuition; Wisconsin Institute for Discovery; food service workers; labor unions; living wage; privatization; small business; tenure; transparency

00:34:58 - Tuition remission is vital

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Partial Transcript: Does the TAA-- Are they still worried that the chancellor and the provost cannot guarantee TAA tuition remission at this point?

Segment Synopsis: Although the Chancellor and Provost cannot guarantee tuition remission at this time, the UW cannot remain a top research institution and a draw without tuition remission.

Keywords: Chancellor Biddy Martin; TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; tuition remission

00:35:57 - National perception of protests

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Partial Transcript: How well do you think the media portrayed the event?

Segment Synopsis: The coverage was mixed, but generally positive for resistance to the attacks by Governor Walker. She received positive reception while traveling recently in Georgia.

Keywords: 2011 Budget Repair Bill; 2011 Capitol protests; media coverage

00:37:31 - General tenor of the protests

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Partial Transcript: The question that I was sort of curious about-- Do you think it was effective or not for people to yell things like "Fox News Lies" at the cameras...

Segment Synopsis: NW was generally happy with the tenor of the protests, but notes that it is frustrating to deal with a portrayal of the protests that does not match her sense of reality.

Keywords: 2011 Capitol protests; Fox News; media coverage

00:38:35 - Role of social media

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Partial Transcript: Okay, an interesting fact about you-- well, maybe it's not so interesting for some people -- but you are not on Facebook.

Segment Synopsis: Social media is effective but dangerous. It allows for “couch potato protestors” who devote their time to posts and tweets rather than to protesting. She does not use social media herself though she referred graduate students in history to the TAA on FaceBook. It helped to mobilize graduate students.

Keywords: 2011 Budget Repair Bill; 2011 Capitol protests; Ash Wednesday; Facebook; TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; social media

00:41:23 - Senate's request to access Prof. Bill Cronon's email

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Partial Transcript: In the last few weeks - or I guess maybe it's been a month now - there has been a lot of media attention around Professor Bill Cronon...

Segment Synopsis: The TAA uses university email to communicate with members. Union strategies are not shared by email. The Freedom of Information request of Bill Cronon’s email threatens academic freedom, particularly for untenured professors, lecturers, and students who do not have the safety net that Cronon’s tenure and reputation give him. It is a first amendment issue.

Keywords: 2011 Capitol protests; Bill Cronon; FOIA; First Amendment; Freedom of Information Act; TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; email; tenure

00:44:23 - Chancellor Martin's response to request for Cronon's emails

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Partial Transcript: Do you feel secure in that sort of-- in your, and our, sense of academic freedom...

Segment Synopsis: NW says the statement did not help her feel more reassured. She describes Martin’s statement as very politically correct about the release of Cronon’s email, though this tone was appropriate.

Keywords: Bill Cronon; Chancellor Biddy Martin; academic freedom

00:45:21 - Influence of 2011 protests on NW's history writing

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Partial Transcript: Alright, so, how is this-- Let's kind of wind down and get personal with you...

Segment Synopsis: The experience has thought about refocusing her questions of the past, particularly as she prepares her dissertation proposal on service workers in the hospital industry in southeast Wisconsin in the 1970s and 1980s. The 2011 protests might encourage her to take a longer view in relation to unionization.

Keywords: Department of History; collective bargaining; dissertation; graduate student; historian; hospital workers; labor history; labor rights; labor unions; public sector unions

00:47:07 - Future outlook for labor unions and TAA

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Partial Transcript: Do you think-- We're just going to ask some purely speculative questions...

Segment Synopsis: NW does not know whether the repair bill will pass, but there have already been lots of victories. Even if the bill passes, unionization and collective bargaining will remain important issues. The TAA would continue to operate regardless of the bill’s passage.

Keywords: 2011 Budget Repair Bill; TAA; Teaching Assistants Association; collective bargaining; graduate student workers; labor unions; outreach; workers rights

00:51:02 - End of Interview