Teaching assistants on the Madison campus may hold the key to the future of domestic partner benefits in the University of Wisconsin System.
"Unlike most other state employee unions, we are still negotiating our 2007-2009 contract," says Tim Frandy, co-president of the Teaching Assistant Association at UW Madison. "Consistently, we've heard through our negotiations with the state, that the UW System would love to have all UW employees with domestic partner benefits," says Frandy, adding that it's an "untenable political climate which has blocked this time and time again."
Frandy says the future of domestic partner benefits at UW is riding on whether Democrats gain control of the state Assembly. "One never knows which way members of the the Assembly will vote," he notes, but says TAA is backing Democrat candidates who they believe will be more supportive of domestic partner benefits. "It's a full campus issue. It affects competitiveness, it affects the value of our degrees, it affects the quality of our academic and professional lives," says Frandy.
UW remains the only Big Ten school not to offer domestic partner benefits to employees, and Frandy says if the TAs succeed in getting benefits included in their contract, other contracts would also have to include them.