NASEM summit on preventing harassment
This week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) held a public summit at UW on preventing sexual harassment in higher education that featured UAW 4121 members, including in panel discussions and multiple posters. After the summit, we also hosted a powerful panel discussion with Seattle 500 Women Scientists on the role of grassroots organizing in tackling this pervasive issue. All of these discussions centered on a clear theme: To make meaningful progress on addressing sexual harassment in academia, we must address the underlying structures that make sexual harassment more likely to happen, and the best way to do that is by rectifying power imbalances through unionization.
In 2018, NASEM released a report showing that rates of sexual harassment is pervasive in academia with 58% of women experiencing it. In our own surveys last year, postdocs and academic student employees (ASEs) at UW reported similarly high rates, with 60% of women, 40% of men, and 80% of non-binary people reporting experiences with harassment while at UW.
Our Local has a strong history of taking action to address these pervasive issues. In 2019, hundreds of Postdocs participated in a powerful work session on sexual harassment held by Seattle City Council Member Teresa Mosqueda. In 2018, we won one of the most innovative prevention programs in the country — an evidence-informed, skill-based, peer training program run collaborative between our union and the university. This quarter alone the program has reached 800 ASEs and postdocs, and participants consistently report dramatic improvements in their likelihood to take action to address harassment.
All of this success has only been possible as the result of mass collective action by members. And it’s a part of a larger national movement as more and more academic workers recognize unionizing as the best way to address systemic harassment and discrimination. For instance, at Harvard, ASEs are preparing to strike after their administration has consistently refused contract proposals entitling them to a transparent grievance procedure for issues of harassment. And our efforts to address discrimination of all kinds and to build a more inclusive and equitable university are ongoing — for more information and to get involved, email email@example.com.
Take action to support academic worker unionization
At last week’s membership meeting, members discussed plans to fight the proposal by Trump’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that would eliminate collective bargaining rights for academic student employees at private universities. Over the next month, our members are mobilizing to fight back by submitting comments opposing this proposed rule change. Every unique comment submitted to the NLRB must be reviewed before the rule can be finalized, so each comment makes a huge difference — last week, grad workers at Georgetown submitted 30,000! Please take a minute now to help by submitting your own comment. For more info on how to submit and template comments you can use, check out our website here.
$100 lump sum payment
The $100 lump sum payments we bargained into our contract to defray the cost of student fees should be processed for ASEs with 50% FTE appointments on the upcoming November 25 paycheck. Please be sure to check your November 25 paystub and get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if there are any problems.
New tool for low-income Seattle residents
The city of Seattle has launched a new tool to help low income residents access benefits and resources. This includes the Utility Discount Program and reduced prices for internet, which many of our members qualify for. Find out what you may qualify for in less than 2 minutes: https://www.affordableseattle.org/.
Monica Cortés Viharo