A Walkthrough for Unions

From Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions

Revision as of 19:27, 31 July 2014 by Zeke (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

This page has been created in the hopes of making contributions to the CGEU ContractWiki as painless as possible. Following along, you'll learn how to add information about your union and plug contract details into the appropriate pages of the ContractWiki. This walkthrough will also aid you in making updates to existing entries.

One early note: Screenshots included below were taken at various points during the wiki's development. Please refer to the text for the most up-to-date formatting of titles, layout, etc. We hope to make this as easy as possible. And, since this is a wiki, if there's a step that's unclear or not totally explained — be a dear and edit this page to make things simpler for the next reader! Thanks —Z

Updating/Adding Union Information

The ContractWiki already includes over 90 recognized student unions in the US and Canada, unrecognized unions and organizing drives, and affiliated organizations. Chances are your organization is already listed among them. If not, this section will also cover all you'll need to know to add your organization to the growing ranks of the student employee union movement.

We'll be using Graduate Assistants United at the University of Rhode Island as our example. Please note: You need to register an account on the ContractWiki to make changes. This creates accountability by allowing us to see who is making changes. Register now or log in before continuing.

To start updating information for the University of Rhode Island's Graduate Assistants United (henceforth URIGAU), first we'll go to the United States listing of unions. The US union listings are sorted by date of recognition: URIGAU is is about two-thirds of the way down the list. (The Canadian listings on the other hand are mostly alphabetical. This discrepancy was carried over from the previous wiki and should be rectified one way or the other.) To begin editing, click the [edit] link next to the organization's name.


This brings you to the editing page for that organization. The title in our example will say "Editing United States (section)".

Edit away!

A few notes on formatting: To get clean breaks between paragraphs, use two blank lines between large blocks of text. For smaller lists of items, use one blank line between text. To indent, you want to put a colon before each line you wish to indent. For subheadings with the name of the organization, surround the name with three equal signs (=== title ===).

As a basic rule of thumb, use the existing formatting when editing or adding to entries so the entire list is clean and cohesive. See the next accompanying image for an example of what each entry should look like.


  1. We see the heading surrounded by three equal signs. Fewer would create a larger font heading, while additional equal signs results in a smaller font. Three is just right. Please note, since this screenshot was taken, we've reversed the order of union name and university. The latter now comes first for better organizational purposes.
  2. Go ahead and put a solid horizontal line after the header. This breaks up the listings and makes it easier to scroll through and distinguish between subgroups. To create a horizontal line, put four dashes in a row between blank lines — or use the far-right button above the text field. It has a horizontal line on it.
  3. To indent information in the "Address:" and "Contact:" fields, put a colon before each line of text.
  4. Creating hyperlinks in a wiki is not the same as if you were working in a WYSIWYG editor like WordPress or with HTML. But it is fairly straightforward. Check out this formatting 'cheatsheet' on Wikipedia for more information, or just follow the example in the image above. Write out the complete URL for links you want to create when listing an organization's website, blog, Facebook page, or Twitter account. For the contract link, or any time you want the link text to be different from the URL, follow this formatting:
    [//http://www.youractualurl.com/aunion/contract Whatever you want the link to say, typically 2011-14 Contract]
    In English, you're looking at a bracket, followed by two forward slashes, followed by the URL with no spaces in between THEN followed by the name of the link, closed by a bracket.

All the Elements of a Complete Union Listing

To reiterate all the elements of a complete listing, we have:

=== University name -- Union name ===
Recognized 20XX
:Street address
:city, state, zip, etc.
:Additional phone, fax, and email
Website: http://www.domain.com/union
Other union links: (Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Contract: [//http://www.domain.com/union/contract.pdf 2010-2013 Contract]
[//http://www.domain.com/union/0710contract.pdf 2007-2010 Contract]
Term: The exact dates the current/most recent contract is in effect.

BE SURE TO SAVE YOUR EDITS by clicking the Save page button at the bottom of your screen. While working, you can also click Show preview to ensure that everything is displaying correctly and to check for typos. But you must save or all of your work will be for naught. (That means nothing, or the zero digit.)

Adding Contract Information

The listings of member unions is great, but the (tofu) meat and potatoes of the ContractWiki is the addition of each organization's contract information for easy digestion and comparison. The goal of the ContractWiki is to split up contract information into particular categories, as listed on the front page under "Contract Issues". Let's walk through the first category, Salary, using URIGAU as our example.

A Note about Red Links

While writing this tutorial, the Salary page had not been created. Any link that has yet to be created uses red text: For example is not a page — and, for illustrative purposes here, please don't make it one! But that's OK — clicking any red link brings you to a page that looks and functions nearly identical to the editing screen. After you save, the page is live.

To add salary tables for URIGAU, scroll down until you find the appropriate listing (the link will be red if the page is not created yet) and click to begin editing. Referring to the appropriate union's contract for salary information — in this case, Article 14 and Appendix A —copy it over to the wiki page you're editing.

To edit any existing pages, click the "Actions" button at the top right-hand side of the page and click "Edit".


How to Create Tables

For certain things, especially salary tiers, you can't beat a good table. Mediawiki has incredibly obtuse formatting to create tables, but Tablesgenerator.com has an easy online tool for creating tables in the wiki format. You can also import CSV files if they're available.

Once you're done — hit save!



Becomes this!


Final Notes

The process is much the same for the remaining issue subsections. Typically, given the size of some contract articles, the amount of information you copy over to the ContractWiki will be small — meaning an easier time for contributors like yourself. For the sake of clarity, it makes sense to work in the order this tutorial followed: Update your main union entry first (especially with new contracts as they are ratified) and then update the issue subsections with the latest available information.

The way this wiki has been set up initially is to link out to unions' contracts as available on their own websites. These outside links could be pages (like our URIGAU example) or files (.pdf or .doc). The CGEU could also upload each contract to this wiki — this would be more "future-proof" but would also require a greater investment of time and bandwidth.

The main table sections collating salaries, health benefits, and child care are more complicated to maintain because they are large tables. These sections never had more than a handful of entries during the previous iteration of the ContractWiki and there needs to be some discussion of how to handle this part of the wiki.