As news of the COVID-19 pandemic has emerged over the past week, we’ve had numerous conversations among ASEs, Postdocs, and other campus workers about how best to adapt to the rapidly changing situation. UAW 4121 members are playing a key role in our broader community’s response, including conducting testing and research, as well as quickly adapting to remote work to continue providing high quality instruction. Many of us also are impacted as parents by school closures, or by travel restrictions as international students/scholars. Thanks to our strong contracts and the power of a strong union coalition at UW, we are able to continue our critical work while also maintaining our basic labor rights — including health and economic security.
As this situation develops, we will continue to send updates as they arise. If you have questions or concerns that aren’t addressed below, please don’t hesitate to reach out to email@example.com.
We are proud to be working as part of a coalition of UW unions to ensure the continued rights and safety of all workers: ASEs, Postdocs, and frontline healthcare and custodial workers. On Tuesday, the union coalition sent a memo to UW administration over a number of issues including paid leave for employees who are unable to work because of exposure or quarantine, increased telework options, and more. Expect more updates soon as this coalition work develops
Hourly Academic Student Employees
Some hourly ASEs — including tutors, graders, undergraduate TAs and RAs — have begun reporting that they are facing a reduction of hours because of the move to remote instruction and are taking action to address this. Please note that under Article 16 of the ASE contract, if our hours are reduced for any reason other than a financial emergency, we’re entitled to receive compensation for the hours that were not completed. This means that if you’re being compensated for fewer hours than you were expecting for the quarter and would like those hours to be paid, we can work with your department or hiring unit to ensure that your expectations are met. If you are in this situation, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for support.
On Wednesday, the Trump Administration announced restrictions on travel from Europe to the United States. This is a rapidly changing situation and a number of details remain somewhat unclear. However, as with travel restrictions in previous years, any ASE and Postdoc who is impacted has stronger access to recourse and support by working through our union. If travel restrictions are affecting you, please email email@example.com right away to get support.
Leaves and Health & Safety
As described in a previous membership email, both the Academic Student Employee and Postdoc contracts already enshrine rights to leave and health & safety. ASEs can read more at Articles 9 and 17 of the ASE contract, and Postdocs can read more at Articles 8 and 24 of the Postdoc contract. In addition, if you have been instructed by your doctor to self-isolate due to COVID-19, you should not face any reduction in pay and are eligible for additional accommodations. Again, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns.
Petition on evictions, Seattle utilities
As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the Puget Sound area, many are facing reduced or eliminated wages, and thus imminently face unexpected problems making rent or mortgage payments. Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is circulating a petition to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, urging her to use her emergency powers in Seattle to ban all economic evictions, late fees, and home foreclosures, as well as to institute payment plans for tenants and homeowners who are facing economic challenges because of the pandemic. Please take a minute to sign on now!
In addition, Mayor Durkan has already announced that Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities will maintain services throughout the COVID-19 emergency. If you pay for these services and are undergoing financial hardship from COVID-19, you can set up a payment plan using this form.
Working Group Updates
As mentioned in last week’s email, because the membership meeting originally scheduled for this week was cancelled due to COVID-19, working group reports normally provided at membership meetings are instead available on the website. Check out updates from the Anti-Discrimination Working Group, Defense Committee, and International Solidarity Working Group on this page. In addition, the monthly financial report normally provided to members at membership meetings is available upon request. Please email email@example.com for more information.
UAW 4121 Joint Council
Monica Cortés Viharo