4/2/20 COVID-19 Updates & Victories
UAW 4121 members are taking action for our community
Over the past several weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has had dramatic impacts on our work and learning at the University of Washington, as well as our lives and community beyond UW. UAW 4121 members have shown up in force for each other and for our community to take action, including by organizing sign-on letters, participating in new working groups, filing grievances, and contributing to solidarity actions and petitions.
We are proud to be a part of a strong coalition of UW unions working in solidarity for the rights and livelihood of all UW workers, including frontline healthcare and custodial workers who are among the most vulnerable in this pandemic. Because 4121 members, fellow workers, and community members are showing up for each other and taking action collectively, we’re already making strides to ensure working people come out of this crisis stronger and more united. One way you can help today is by signing onto this petition our UW union coalition is circulating that calls on UW admin to guarantee continued employment and wages for ALL UW employees.
Our organizing is working! Among many other recent wins:
- No work in unsafe conditions: Recently, Academic Student Employee and Postdoc researchers in some labs were receiving unclear information and pressure from their PIs or departments to physically come to campus, even after the governor’s stay home order. By organizing departmental sign-on letters, surveys, and coordinated group meetings with PIs, members have successfully gotten their departments and PIs to make arrangements for work to be completed at home.
- No loss of pay, no loss of hours: In March, members in some hourly positions were told by their departments that their anticipated hours would be cut and they wouldn’t be compensated for the missed hours. By taking action with representatives from the Contract Enforcement Working Group to assert their rights under our contract, hourly workers have successfully gotten their departments to provide either the expected hours or commensurate compensation.
- No unpaid work: Near the end of Winter Quarter, ASEs in many instructional roles expressed concerns that a transition to remote instruction for Spring would increase their workload beyond their paid hours. As a result, stewards and other organizers in many departments have been reaching out to fellow members in their departments to ensure everyone knows their rights, tracks all hours worked, and gets in touch right away for support if they’re regularly going over their hours.
How you can take action and get support:
As always, if you or others in your department are facing any issues with your work, your first line of support is the Contract Enforcement Working Group, email@example.com. Members of Contract Enforcement have training and experience with the details and interpretation of both the ASE and Postdoc contracts, knowledge of past issues and how they’ve been resolved, and strategies for addressing problems both formally and informally. Even if you’re not sure if the issue you’re facing is covered by your contract, or if you think it isn’t, please get in touch with Contract Enforcement!
In addition, the following working groups are also great resources for both getting support around COVID issues and getting involved in ongoing work:
Assistance with expiring visas at end of appointments
Some ASEs and Postdocs have appointments that have ended recently or are ending soon and have reported difficulty with arranging travel back to their home country before their visa expires. If you are facing a similar situation with the end of your appointment, please contact us so we can coordinate and share resources.
International Postdocs and travel
Many Postdocs may need to be out of the country right now for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The International Scholars Operations (ISO) outlines travel-related information for J1 exchange visitors at https://ap.washington.edu/ahr/visas/j1/travel. The ISO recommends that if there is a possibility you will be out of the US for longer than 30 days but still working on UW-related duties, you should get in contact with their office as soon as possible (firstname.lastname@example.org) to coordinate the necessary paperwork. They will need an “Out of Country Request Form” signed by yourself and your supervisor. There is no such travel time limit for H1B visa holders; however, if you do plan to work from home outside of the US, you should still contact the ISO and inform them of your new work location. If you are a Postdoc on a J1 or H1B visa remaining in Seattle and you are working from home, the ISO can update your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record to reflect your home as a secondary activity site – email@example.com is the contact for that as well. At any time if you have questions about these and other issues – including visa and appointment length concerns – please contact our International Work Group for support and assistance at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April Membership Meeting
Our next membership meeting will be Thursday 4/9 from 5:30-6:30pm, and will be conducted via Zoom. More details about how you can join the Zoom meeting will follow in next week’s email. The proposed agenda for the meeting is as follows:
- Approve Agenda
- Approve Minutes
- COVID-19 Updates, Actions, and Open Discussion:
- Overall Update on Impacts
- Lab Work
- International Students & Scholars
- Appointment Length & Degree Milestones
- Student Fees
- UW Unions Coalition
- Political Work
Any member who would like to propose additional agenda items or submit materials for the meeting is welcome to email email@example.com by 5pm on Wednesday, April 8th. All members in good standing are encouraged to attend, and anyone who is not yet a member can sign up here beforehand.
Housing Justice Workgroup
Our workgroup focuses on housing issues that face 4121 members and the communities where we live. Over the past several months we have been participating actively in the Tax Amazon movement being led by Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. In our most recent meeting on March 23rd, 2020, we discussed the ways in which COVID-19 is impacting working people in Seattle. We are also hoping to host a virtual Tenants Rights Bootcamp later this quarter – stay tuned for information. Any members of our community experiencing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic may find the following links on tenant protections and community resources within Washington useful. For more information and to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
UAW 4121 Joint Council
Monica Cortés Viharo