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Beware of Wisconsin Schools!

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I was accepted, but am very wary of attending any University of Wisconsin school, given that their governor has just stripped the grad assistant unions of their collective bargaining rights, and has eliminated their ability to automatically deduct dues from employee paychecks (which will probably mean that there will soon be no unions at all). Without collective bargaining rights, things like tuition remission, pay, and healthcare rates cannot be guaranteed. I simply cannot afford to lose my tuition remission half-way through the program. In addition, who knows how many of my advisors might leave the state in search of fairer opportunities? As long as you have other offers, I would strongly encourage you to reconsider. I think I will turn down my offer. I am not that desperate for tier-4 place.

Wisconsin, mayors, school superintendents and county executives are already thinking through how to use the legislation to hold down public employees’ raises and health costs.


Earlier in the week, there had been as many as 40,000 protesters, leading to schools been canceled as unhappy union workers, who make up the majority of public university employees, took to the streets.


"I'm fighting for my home and my career," said Virginia Welle, a 30-year-old teacher at Chippewa Falls High School. She said she and her husband, who is also a teacher, each stand to lose $5,000 a year in higher pension and health care contributions.


The bill, which the Republican governor signed into law today, limits collective bargaining rights for most unionized public employee workers in Wisconsin. In Portland, students from Portland State University, Portland Community College, Lincoln, Grant and Marshall high schools marched into the downtown square chanting slogans like "this is what democracy looks like."

"This attack on workers and students is not exclusive to Wisconsin," says PSU student and rally organizer Wael Elasady.

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I sincerely doubt that this would affect tuition wavers, but I know that UW folks are expecting the insurance plans to double in price. Luckily, they're a fantastic deal (and great coverage) at $12 per month for a single person and $44 a month for a family plan, so a doubling wouldn't be the end of the world, although I suppose there's nothing to stop the prices from continuing to rise.

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Calm down, you're not losing any collective bargaining rights. Graduate assistants are not public employees, nor have public employees lost the ability to express collective will through unions. The only thing that the new legislation does is prevent public employee unions from legally forcing negotiations with government officials to occur. Unions organized around private industry never had this "right" to begin with, as their power comes from their collective will and striking capabilities, as opposed to power to force negotiations through law.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison chemistry department graduate weekend, they told us exactly how this legislation will affect us. The university will be partially privatizing, resulting in higher tuition for the undergrads, but giving graduate students higher stipends and more representation in the administrative process. The graduate students still have access to the same health benefits as the faculty, which is not changing.

So, you can feel bad for the undergrads if you'd like, but as a graduate student, you're only going to benefit from this.

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I'm a grad student at UW-Madison. The university has assured us that the new laws will have no effect on tuition waivers. Yes, our insurance costs per month are doubling--that is, IF the law is even allowed to go into effect. Other than that, nothing is really changing for me. Don't be so quick to warn people away. Spreading false information doesn't help anyone.

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