The UAW 4121 2019 Triennial Election nomination period has closed. We are happy to announce the following new executive board and bargaining committee members, all of whom are uncontested. Congratulations to all!

Executive Board

President: David Parsons

  • Statement: “I am respectfully asking for your support for re-election as President of Local 4121.
    I’m proud to have worked alongside the thousands of ASEs and Postdocs who have sacrificed time and energy to build our Local into the powerful, fighting organization it has become in its 15 years of existence. We have negotiated national standard-setting collective bargaining agreements that create a more inclusive campus and less economic insecurity for academic workers. We have mounted and won campaigns to expand our rights on campus and the broader community. We have helped shape conversations in the community about how we confront some of the most urgent issues of our time: income inequality; lack of affordable healthcare; lack of affordable housing; institutionalized forms of oppression; climate change; and attacks on union power.
    We have significant amount of work to do.  Thousands of workers at UW and across the state are still without a union. As Postdocs conclude contract negotiations and establish a strong unit of the Local, and both Hourly and Salaried ASEs face structural and individualized challenges on campus, we’ll need to better integrate our efforts and fight back together against austerity and marginalization. I’m confident we can do so based on our experience of what has worked, our honest assessment of what has not, and our commitment to organizing, direct action, and smart and engaged political advocacy.
    I’ve been fortunate to work closely with thousands of members from every job title, every department and work place on each campus at UW. I’d be honored to earn your support to continue that work in my capacity as President.”


Vice President:  Sam Sumpter

  • Candidate Statement: “My name is Sam Sumpter and I’m running to be our Union’s next Vice President. I’m a PhD candidate in the Philosophy Department, and I’ve been an active member since I started grad school in 2014. Since then, I’ve also served as our Local’s Sergeant-at-Arms and Financial Secretary, and have participated in nearly every one of our Union’s working groups, including Trans Equity, Contract Enforcement, and Housing Justice. This academic year, I have also helped develop and implement the new peer-to-peer sexual harassment prevention training we won during bargaining last spring. I am incredibly excited about the strong start we’re off to with this program, and the real potential we now have to shape the direction of the entire university’s conversations around sexual harassment prevention.
    Through all of this work, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with thousands of ASEs and Postdocs across UW, and I’ve gained an enduring commitment to the power of deep organizing and mass collective action. In an era where it’s clear that those in power – whether upper Administration at UW, or politicians in the highest offices – are more immovable than ever, I strongly believe that our best chance to make wins on the issues that matter most to our members – wages, equity, fees, and more – is to continue expanding our organizing efforts and to build power through the active participation of a supermajority of our Union. If elected, I’m committed to improving this work, and among other things, plan to spend my term working with other members to continue:

    • Organizing new members until we reach 90% membership
    • Identifying and developing leaders in every department
    • Driving membership participation in every level of our Local’s work
    • Strengthening connections between ASE and Postdoc organizing, as well as between other unions at UW, in Seattle, in Washington state, and in higher ed nationally
    • Developing campaigns built on majority membership action to tackle issues of inequity and discrimination at UW.

    I am deeply committed to our Union and to building the kind of power we need to advance members’ rights and issues. I would greatly value the opportunity to serve as your Vice President, and would very much appreciate your vote!”

Financial Secretary: Dan Hart

  • Candidate Statement: “As financial secretary, I am looking forward to ratifying a first contract for UW postdocs, achieving high academic student employee membership and organizing with workers who do not have union representation. Since entering the UW chemistry PhD program in 2013, I have been involved with the UAW as a steward for the chemistry department, as an ASE bargaining committee member and as a full-time organizer, both here at UW currently and in California.
    I helped negotiate our contract in 2015, my first time at the bargaining table and organizing outside my home department of chemistry. After ratifying our 2015 contract, I joined UAW postdocs in California to negotiate two contracts in 2015 and 2016. During that time, I helped 500 postdocs at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab join the California postdoc union, winning standard setting working conditions. After this exciting experience, I returned home to organize with UW postdocs to achieve a powerful union mandate: 60% of all UW postdocs participated in their recent union election, and 90% voted yes.
    Over the past six years, I have had the opportunity to organize with new members, activists and organizers in nearly every department on the UW campus. I have learned that throughout campus, we have so many common issues in our working environments. I have been involved in addressing challenges we face in our academic lives by working to increase compensation for academic student employees and postdocs, enhance workplace sexual harassment trainings and protections, fight for rights with international scholars and unify with our postdoc colleagues. I am proud of what we have accomplished together so far, and I see many areas where our united voice can strengthen to create a more equitable and inclusive workplace.
    I am passionate about our union making the university a better place to work, and the opportunity to serve as financial secretary will help me accomplish that. In the financial secretary position, I want to further bring together our organizing capacities in postdoc and academic student employee departments to build more rights and power for all academic workers at UW. I welcome the opportunity to meet with you during this election for the executive board position as financial secretary, and I look forward to organizing together.”

Recording Secretary: Monica Cortés Viharo


Trustee: Emily Myers

  • Candidate Statement: “My name is Emily Myers. I am a graduate student in Pharmacology, a current Executive Board member of UAW4121 as Trustee, and a candidate for Seattle City Council in D4. I am running to retain my position as Trustee. Over the last few months, I have met with 100s of union members across campus and have heard from our members how concerns around housing affordability, access to transportation and climate justice, stronger protections for international students, and harassment both on and off campus. I am committed to deep, whole worker organizing, mass movements, and collective action to fight for better protections for our members. During our historic 2000 member strike in Spring 2018, I organized my department and turned out 90% of my department to the picket line. Since then, I have continued to organize ASEs and postdocs to fight sexual harassment at UW, and was successful in our campaign to remove a known harasser from overseeing TAs. I look forward to continuing to build movements to bring fundamental change to our university and ensure that our public university, the second largest employer in the city, is accountable to us, the working people, who are critical to our institution’s success.”


Trustee: Judy Twedt

  • Candidate Statement: “I am PhD student in the individualized, interdisciplinary PhD program studying climate communication. As a UAW4121 member, I have worked on gender equity (enforcing requirements for lactation stations) and most recently, as a co-leader of the climate justice workgroup. I became trustee in 2017 and would be honored to continue to serve in this capacity.”


Trustee: Kristin McCowan


Sergeant-at-Arms: Shua Sanchez

  • Candidate Statement: “As a Bargaining Committee member for the past 3 years, I’ve been deeply involved with signing up new members and building power in our union to win a free U-pass, end the international student fee, get free mental health care coverage and protect our current healthcare benefits. Bargaining the contract last spring was an intensely difficult process, but through leading negotiations weekly for 5 months I learned an immense amount and am excited to spend the next 2 years preparing for the next round of negotiations. I’d like to ask you for your support! Solidarity”


Guide: [vacant]



Bargaining Team

Region 1

Jacob O’Conner

  • Candidate Statement: “Hi, my name is Jacob O’Connor and I’m a third-year Biochem student. I served on the elections committee last year and after seeing how wild the negotiations were during the contract negotiation I’d like to help contribute to that work in the years to come.”

Nayon Park

  • Candidate Statement: “My name is Nayon Park and I’m an ASE in the chemistry department. I’m looking forward to continuing the organizing work I’ve been doing as a steward and working toward an equitable contract.”

Region 2

Meg Drouhard

  • Candidate Statement: “The work I’ve done with the bargaining team for the last year and a half–and more recently working with the contract enforcement team–has been really important to me, and I want to continue. Whether it be as a member of the bargaining team or through work groups and organizing, I think that active involvement with our union is one of the most powerful ways that we can hold UW administration accountable and take care of each other.”

Jon Witt

  • Candidate Statement: “Howdy! My name is Jon Witt, and I am a fourth year PhD student in Chemical Engineering. I’ve been serving in this position for a few months now and would love to continue. My involvement with our union started when Congress considered taxing our tuition waivers as income and then I got really involved with organizing my department for the bargaining campaign. Since then I’ve been in this region 2 position and have found it very meaningful to serve and volunteer in this way for my peers. While on the board I have been helping staffers do orientations in other departments that currently don’t have stewards, I’ve facilitated a union meeting, and play a strong support role to the leaders in our union who have more experience than I do. I’ve also served on the financial committee. I’ll continue to serve so long as you wish it. Thanks for voting also! Voting is great and fun!”

Region 3

Kyle Kubler

  • Candidate Statement: “My name is Kyle Kubler and I’m a PhC in the communication department. I’ve been a regular member of the contract enforcement work group for the past three years, and Steward in the communication department for the last two. Although not on the bargaining committee last year, I was involved at the bargaining table and organizing throughout the negotiations. I hope my experience from the last round of bargaining can help us be prepared for the upcoming negotiations.”

Paige Sechrest

  • Candidate Statement: “I’m running to be on the bargaining committee because I’m interested in figuring out how we can lay the groundwork for having the kind of active, mutually supportive, participatory union both when we’re actually negotiating a contract and in the times in between. If elected, I will work to create opportunities for building solidarity and community so that we can be excellent at standing up with and for each other and with other workers at UW and in Seattle more broadly.”:

Region 4

Douglas Avella-Castro

  • Candidate Statement: “I accept the nomination for bargaining committee in region 4. Back in 2013, I started my work with 4121 as shop steward at the UWT writing center where I worked on race and equity issues impacting writing tutors and students. In 2016, I joined the bargaining committee where I served as a representative on the institutionalized racism and public safety committee for the Martin Luther King County Labor Council.
    While on this committee, I worked to build important relationships with union leaders–along with other community representatives from the city of Seattle–to address the impacts of racism through policing.  My work with the public safety committee resulted in a nomination for the 2018’s Educator of The Year at the “Labor Oscars”.
    Throughout my time as a union representative I’ve had hundreds of conversations with our members about how to build power, so we can negotiate an even stronger contract that improves standards for academic workers and our labor movement generally. I’m committed to continuing this work. “

Vern Harner

  • Candidate Statement: “I am a 3rd year doctoral student in social welfare, and my work focuses on trans communities and how we support one another. As a union steward, instructor, and peer, I have worked to lift up trans and disability issues within the School of Social Work and have advocated with and for students to address issues around equity that they have experienced. I focus on tangible, concrete shifts in policy and behavior. I will continue to organize to disrupt systems of oppression, both on and off of the UAW 4121 bargaining committee.”

Region 5

Sam Kastner

  • Candidate Statement: “I have been a UAW 4121 member since my arrival at UW for a Ph. D. in Civli & Environmental Engineering (CEE) in Fall 2015. I have been the steward for the CEE department since Fall quarter 2017. In my capacity as steward, I attended many bargaining sessions last spring. I also led UAW 4121 orientation in the fall to reach new CEE students, and brought current students who had previously been uncontacted by the union or who previously declined membership into the fold as new members. In the Spring of 2018, I filed a grievance against the CEE department on behalf of students who had not received raises in a timely manner. The grievance won CEE students more than $20,000 in backpay. Thank you for considering me for a seat on the Bargaining Committee, I look forward to serving the ASEs of Region 5.”

[One vacant position in Region 5]


We look forward to the service of our new executive board members and bargaining committee members.


In solidarity,

UAW 4121 Election Committee
Katie Brennan
Jorge Bustamante
Krzysztof Drewniak
Elliot Lee
Elena Pandres
Marissa Parker
Sam Pennypacker
Katie Reichard