Talking to Your Advisor/PI

Talking to Your Advisor/PI About the Contract Campaign

Introduction for grad workers

  • You do have the right to talk to your advisor about contract negotiations and ask them to contact the central administration and express their support for ASE’s. Many faculty understand that ASE’s play a valuable role in the university and know that we need support to keep doing our important work!
  • In addition, many faculty and supervisors have expressed support, publicly and privately, as they understand that a fair contract helps improve the quality of ASE work across the university. Check out our collaboration with Faculty Forward, as well as articles written by faculty in support (12, 3, 4).
  • The University Administration has recently been attempting to stop faculty from communicating with us about contract negotiations by claiming that such interactions constitute “direct dealing:” an illegal practice in which supervisors circumvent the bargaining process by isolating individuals and attempting to cut deals.  Direct dealing is not the same as expressing an opinion about bargaining. We are disappointed that the administration is attempting to create an atmosphere of fear and suspicion, instead of fostering open conversations that everyone has a right to have about important issues facing the UW community.
  • It is in our faculty members’ interests for us to have a fair contract. TAs and RAs who have fair pay and job security can do better work as teachers and researchers; in fact, union contracts are a recruiting tool for potential PhD students at universities that already have grad unions.

Why do grad workers need a fair union contract?

[You likely will not need to cover all these points in your discussions with faculty. Key points are italicized.]

  • ASEs do a huge amount of work at UW. We are teaching assistants for lecture classes across all departments, we are a huge number of the workers in labs, we write grants worth millions of dollars, and we are the lead instructors for many language courses and classes in the core. Teaching and research are our jobs—they’re how we make a living.
  • Grad students regularly deal with issues that would be completely unacceptable in many other industries hiring highly-qualified college graduates: chronic late pay, inadequate health insurance, lack of parental leave, job insecurity, and sexual harassment. (These experiences should be unacceptable in all jobs.)
  • Our union is a part of the UAW (United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America) because the UAW is a strong supporter of academic workers. Grad workers and Postdocs at the UCs, Postdocs at UW, and workers at many other universities are also UAW members. The UAW represents over 70,000 members in higher education.

What should faculty expect from a strike?

  • During a strike, workers withhold their labor to demonstrate their value to their workplace.
    • TAs (as well as Predoctoral Lecturers and Predoctoral Instructors) will not provide any form of instruction, including classes, discussion sections, and review sessions; will not hold office hours or send teaching-related emails; and will not grade papers, exams, problem sets, or other assignments for the duration of the strike.
    • Grad RAs will strike on their labor for the 20 hours per week that UW pays them to conduct research or work in their labs.
  • All ASEs will continue to do academic work toward their own degrees, including taking classes in which they have enrolled, researching and writing their dissertations, and participating in conferences.
  • The strike has been authorized in a democratic election by a 96.1% margin.
  • No grad worker is forced to participate in a strike; the UAW does not penalize workers who do not strike.

What can faculty do to show their support?

  • Communicate with President Cauce’s office at (, 206-543-5010) to tell her that you want the UW Administration to give ASE’s a fair contract now.
  • Join us on the picket line during the days of the strike. The pickets will be at every entrance and exit to campus from 5 AM to 4 PM.
  • Visit to learn more.

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