UAW 4121 - UW Works Because We Do
Dear UAW Member,

Postdoc Bargaining & Work Session Update

Last week, hundreds of Postdocs and other community members turned out to the Seattle City Council work session about confronting harassment and discrimination at UW. There was a strong turnout from ASEs who came to show solidarity with the Postdocs and learn more about this important topic. Thanks to everyone who organized and came out!

At the council session, several Postdocs gave powerful testimony about how they faced discrimination from their PIs for their identity, nationality, disability and pregnancy. They spoke of how the University’s mishandling of reports of harassment and discrimination forced more than one Postdoc to leave the university. They also talked about institutional policies that prevented paid-direct Postdocs who earn external grants from receiving healthcare, causing thousands of dollars in medical bills in exchange for a career-critical independent award. In addition to testimony from Postdocs, experts invited  discussed how unbalanced power structures provoke inequity in higher education, and how collective bargaining can restore equity.

The expert and personal testimony shared at the session highlighted why stronger protections against harassment are an important issue the postdocs have bargained for in their contract negotiations with UW. Progress in bargaining is being made; postdocs now have come to agreement on several key issues like a fair grievance procedure and protections against arbitrary terminations. However there are still important issues remaining to be bargained and the postdocs will likely need ASEs to help with future actions to show the University our commitment to a fair and just contract.

Finally, once the Postdocs successfully bargain their first contract,  UAW 4121 will become an amalgamated Local of both of our bargaining units. This will require some restructuring of the bylaws to ensure successful collaboration between Postdoc and ASE units. Keep an eye out for future emails about ways to help out with future actions and on changes to the bylaws. You can read more about UW Postdocs’ campaign here.

Stewards & Defense Committee Elections

Steward and Defense Committee Positions are great ways to get more involved in the Local and are critical for continuing to build power and create strong communication networks. Keep an eye out for a notice of election from the Elections Committee or email them at

Climate Justice Work Group

Even though I-1631 didn’t pass last year, the organizing work around this initiative and continued work by organizers has pushed the state legislature to pass into law several important climate justice bills during this legislative session, including a move to 100% clean energy by 2040, funding for improving building energy efficiency, and reducing HFCs. These bills incorporated ensure that the work being done to make this transition to greener energy is done with strong labor standards and union jobs.

Our union is committed to being a leader in climate justice and so we are planning on sending two delegates to Chicago this june to attend the Labor Network for Sustainability Conference, which will be all about the intersection of labor and climate justice. If you want to be a delegate or want to nominate someone to attend, email

For more information about the conference, see

Family/Medical Leave Bargaining

Last Thursday, 5/9, members of the bargaining committee as well as other Local 4121 members met with representatives from UW to bargain over provisions of the new Washington State Family/Medical Leave program (RCW 50A.04).  We asked a number of questions about eligibility, and raised concerns over how the law should be applied to international students (who face greater restrictions in the number of work hours and leave policies than U.S. citizens and permanent residents) as well ASEs paid on training grants (who work the same hours as other ASEs but might not have the hours count towards eligibility in the same way).  We also asked for more information about the timing of premium refunds by the University (which we referenced in our email of April 28).

Our next session will be May 28th.  Let us know if you’d like to get more involved in advocating around this issue by emailing us at

Political Work Group

The Political Work Group is continuing to meet to vet candidates and make recommendations for endorsement in 2019 elections.  If you have particular interest in any candidate or would like to be involved in the process please email

UAW National Trade Agreement Statement

Last week UAW sent out an email urging members to contact their representatives to vote no on the Trump administration’s proposed United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. The agreement does not provide sufficient protections to prevent well-paying jobs being outsourced to underpaid workers. We oppose this agreement as it undermines labor and environmental standards everywhere and urge you to contact your representatives in Congress to oppose this bill.


In solidarity,
Douglas Avella-Castro
Monica Cortés Viharo
Meg Drouhard
Vern Harner
Dan Hart
Sam Kastner
Kyle Kubler
Kristin McCowan
Emily Myers
Jacob O’Connor
Nayon Park
David Parsons
Shua Sanchez
Paige Sechrest
Sam Sumpter
Judy Twedt
Jon Witt


UAW 4121 | UW Works Because We Do