Impending Executive Order Impacting H-1B and F1-OPT Visa Holders
Take action now! The UAW International Working Group is taking action to oppose any action by the Trump Administration that may limit the issuance, renewal, and/or terms of employment for non-immigrant visas. This has the potential to jeopardize the careers of Academic Student Employees studying and working on F1 visas, and Postdocs who are working on F1-OPT extensions or H-1B visas. Our Local is sending a letter strongly opposing this.
All ASEs and Postdocs are strongly encouraged to take two minutes to send a message to your U.S. Senators, urging them to preserve these critical programs. Use this portal to enter your name and address and send a template message to Senators Murray and Cantwell. International students and scholars working on an H-1B or F1-OPT extension are also encouraged to get in touch with the International Solidarity Workgroup (ISW) at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can work quickly to disseminate information and support if the order is issued. Additionally, anyone who wants to work to support international ASEs and Postdocs in the face of this order is welcome to join the ISW regardless of citizenship. The ISW advocates for international ASEs and Postdocs’ right to equitable access to the resources needed to fulfill academic and professional goals.
U-PASS victory for workers at UW!
Photo from UPASS for All demonstration, 2018
We’ve taken another major step forward in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, support public transit, and reduce out of pocket costs for ASEs by securing a free U-PASS for bargaining unit employees – including hourly ASEs – starting Fall Quarter 2020.
As you may know, this victory was several years in the making and followed efforts by ASEs, Postdocs, and other unionized UW employees to make Free U-PASS for All a priority demand. Our union coalition lobbied UW and the Seattle City Council with support from community groups like the Transit Riders Union, and took action both at the bargaining table and in the streets. In Spring 2018 we negotiated that any conditions agreed upon during coalition bargaining regarding the U-PASS would be applied to the 2018-2021 contract. In September 2018, the UW union coalition agreed that bargaining unit employees would receive a free U-PASS starting July 1, 2019. When UW reversed their position and claimed that hourly employees were not covered, we filed a grievance alleging that this was a violation of our ASE contract. After an arbitration hearing, UW has agreed to resolve the grievance. You can read more about the terms of the agreement here.
Not only is this a huge win for UW hourly ASEs, but it also helps build momentum for a free U-PASS for all. Our union siblings in SEIU 925, SEIU 1199, and WFSE 1488, who fought alongside us and are actively pursing their own grievances over this issue, deserve our full support. The fight for equity and climate justice at UW continues, and we’ll keep fighting until all students and workers at UW receive a free U-PASS!
Organizing trainings start next Thursday!
Starting next Thursday, join fellow 4121 members across UW for a series of organizing trainings to learn more about what we can each do to help build our collective power in the time of COVID and in preparation for next year’s contract campaigns. These trainings cover critical skills and information for department stewards, but are open to anyone interested in honing their organizing skills and getting more involved. The sessions build off of each other but are self-standing modules, so feel free to sign up for any and all that you’d like to attend.
- Session 1: 1-to-1 Organizing, Thursday 5/28, 12-1:30. This session focuses on the nuts and bolts of one-to-one organizing, such as talking to our colleagues about membership and other organizing efforts we pursue as a union. We’ll also work through applying 1-to-1 principles in the current context of social distancing. All are welcome!
- Session 2: Empowering Prevention and Inclusive Communities, 6/4, 12-1:30. This session takes an intersectional approach to understanding and organizing around sexual harassment, and building community in our departments.
- Session 3: Power Analysis, Thursday, 6/11, 12-1:30. This session explores the nature and sources of our power as a union, and how we can leverage that power in order to push for change. This session is intended for people who have at least some previous experience with 1-to-1 organizing.
Income tax and Postdoc stipends
It’s come to our attention that some Postdocs are not having income taxes withheld from their paychecks. Please note that Postdocs are still responsible for paying income taxes, even if these are not being withheld by UW. In many cases Postdocs are also responsible for paying FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes, even if these are not withheld by the employer. Due to COVID, the deadline for filing 1st and 2nd quarter taxes has been postponed to July 15.
We are in the process of pursuing this issue and obtaining clearer information as to why UW has not deducted income and/or FICA taxes in some cases. We also have seen patterns regarding tax withholdings and eligibility for certain benefits, and have filed a grievance alleging the University has violated the collective bargaining agreement for some Postdocs. If you have questions please reach out to email@example.com. While the Contract Enforcement Working Group can’t give individual tax advice, we can try to assist you with general information or refer you to tax attorneys if you need more specific guidance.
Support Striking Farmworkers!
As you may know, there are currently six farmworker strikes in Washington State that began on May 6 over health and safety concerns around COVID-19. Although Emergency Rules for Housing in Agriculture have now been put into effect, they do not require the ratios for housing, showers, sinks, cooking and food storage facilities, laundry, and bunkbeds to reflect CDC social distancing protocols, and are likely to not be adequately enforced. Please help support these striking workers by joining this week’s phoning actions, calling the farms and Governor Inslee’s office! More information, links to donate if you are able, and sign-ups for calling are here.
Tax Amazon Action Steps
Saturday, May 23rd at 12 noon: the Tax Amazon Ballot Initiative is launching the Amazon Tax Prime – Petition Delivery Service! This push to start collecting physical signatures will replace our usual plan of phoning our members to sign the online petition. Read more here and RSVP here to join the effort! All activities will carefully follow social distancing and professional public safety advice. All participants are urged to wear a mask and gloves — if you don’t have these items, they will provide them for you. As always, all UAW 4121 members and Tax Amazon supporters are encouraged to participate!