UAW 4121 - UW Works Because We Do

Organizing for the Future We Need


  1. PETITION: In the past week, hundreds of ASEs and Postdocs have already joined the call for UW administration to extend ASE and Postdoc appointments through the summer, and to grant all requests for one-year extensions as measures to mitigate the impacts of the COVID crisis — particularly for international students and scholars, parents, and those facing research delays. Please add your name today and get involved by emailing!
  2. POLITICAL ACTION: As a Local we are coming together with academic workers from around the country to call on Congress to increase COVID relief funding for working people (and not the super-rich). Click here to write your representative in a few easy steps and help build the push for Congress to provide increased funding for university workers and research. This could include other strong progressive measures soon!

As the COVID-19 crisis has developed over the past months, it has created unprecedented challenges for Academic Student Employees, Postdocs, and our broader communities. It has also emphasized the urgent need for structural reforms we’ve long known are necessary for creating sustainable and equitable higher education system, both in the short and long term. Now more than ever, a significant and immediate financial support is needed to ensure economic security for ASEs, Postdocs and other academic workers, and to ensure that our research and instructional missions are sustainable. Moreover, our efforts must be coupled with commitments to provide broad support for all working people and to aggressively confronting xenophobia, racism, and sexual violence.

If you are struggling or need assistance, contact right away. Members of our Local have already been stepping up in so many powerful and inspiring ways to support each other and to build resiliency and community for ourselves. We’re pushing decision-makers at multiple levels — including departments; central admin; and city, state, and federal electeds — to support those who are most vulnerable and build a stronger future together. Members have organized ad-hoc working groups, are phone banking, conducting surveys in their departments to find out community needs, and petitioning their departments for accommodations and funding. You can get more involved by joining one of the many Local Union working groups listed below, and/or contact your union steward.

Appointment Security & Fair Wages

  • DEPARTMENT ORGANIZING: Across UW, members are organizing to push their departments to extend all deadlines and provide funding commensurate with research needs, and to provide health care for all, particularly over the summer.
  • CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT: Across UW, members have successfully enforced our contract protections in their departments to ensure no one is forced to do unpaid work or work excessive hours in the transition to online learning. For more info about your rights, check out the COVID FAQ, and email with any questions.
    • Appointment extensions: Several Postdocs whose appointments were originally scheduled to expire before May 30th have received short term extensions!
    • Deadline extensions: ASEs have successfully pushed their departments to extend mandatory research timelines such as general exams, qualifying papers, and other degree progress benchmarks.
    • No loss of pay for hourly workers: Hourly workers whose hours were threatened have successfully gotten their departments to provide either the expected hours or commensurate compensation.
    • No loss of pay for TAs and instructors: ASEs who were facing a reduction in pay because of altered job duties were successfully able to ensure that they still received the expected rate of compensation.
    • No unpaid work: Stewards and organizers reached out to fellow members in their departments to ensure everyone tracks all hours worked and gets in touch right away for support if regularly going over their assigned workload. In departments where ASEs have had to go over their assigned hours, members have successfully enforced their contractual rights to increased compensation.
    • Support for remote instruction: Members doing instructional work have successfully pushed their departments to provide pedagogical resources and technical support for the transition to remote learning.


International Students/Scholars & Immigrants

Our collective call for UW to grant appointment extensions is particularly urgent for international students and scholars, many of whom rely on funding from UW for maintaining visa status, or who are facing travel restrictions that make visa continuation an immediate necessity. The International Solidarity Working Group is also actively seeking out Postdocs whose appointments are ending in the coming weeks and in strategizing around how to eliminate delays in visa processing. UAW is also joining the call for political/relief stimulus measures to include undocumented immigrants (primarily through the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, which our union helped found). You can sign this petition today to help build momentum on this critical need!

Housing Affordability

Now more than ever, the City and State must take permanent steps to decrease rent burden for all. As a union, we have long been active in the fight for housing justice, and UAW 4121 members are heavily involved in the Tax Amazon movement to redistribute wealth from big business towards funding critical social programs for working people — affordable social housing, a Green New Deal, and COVID-19 relief. VICTORY: Through this campaign, our members have already been instrumental in winning eviction moratoriums, and, more recently, a freeze on rent increases across Washington state through at least June 4.

Each Saturday from now until May 30th, a group of 4121 members will join the Tax Amazon phone bank. We’ll be calling other 4121 members about signing the petition to put the Tax Amazon Initiative onto the ballot for next Fall. RSVP now!

Tuition/Fee Affordability

Members have formed a new working group to plan ways to minimize out-of-pocket costs for unnecessary fees, working in coalition with other student groups and student government. VICTORY: Through coordinating with a coalition of students and student government, the UPASS fee was eliminated for all students for Spring Quarter.

Health, Safety, & Work Materials

Our contracts provide some of the strongest protections we have available for ensuring our own safety and minimizing contact with the community. VICTORIES:

  • No work in unsafe conditions: Members organized departmental sign-on letters, surveys, and coordinated group meetings with PIs to successfully get their departments and PIs to change “essential work” designations for non-essential workers and instead make arrangements for work to be completed at home.
  • Materials and resources provided: Bolstered by our contractual rights to materials and services needed to complete our work, ASEs and Postdocs have successfully gotten their departments to provide or reimburse costs for remote tools such as internet hotspots, ethernet cables, and more.

Solidarity Work & Coalition Building

Through our affiliations with other unionized workers both locally and nationally, we are also able to support other hard-hit workers in their efforts to stay safe and economically secure, including by:

  • Bargaining in coalition with nurses, medical residents, custodians, techs, classified staff and others to secure stronger paid sick leave and health and safety measures. Supporting food service workers who are pushing UW admin for greater protections.
    Supporting English Language Faculty in the International English Language Programs center, who have been told that their jobs may be eliminated in the coming year.
  • Pushing for Health Care for All.
  • Speaking out for Amazon workers who were fired after trying to form a union — Join them from 9am-5pm today in support of their “Sick Out” action!
  • Helping support hotel workers who are facing up to 90% unemployment.
  • VICTORY: As a coalition of UW unions, we have won expansions to paid family and medical leave, emergency paid sick leave, and paid administrative leave.


In solidarity,

UAW 4121 Joint Council
Tina Angerer
Douglas Avella-Castro
Leandro Casiraghi
Monica Cortés Viharo
Meg Drouhard
Max Friedfeld
Vern Harner
Dan Hart
Sam Kastner
Kyle Kubler
Kristin McCowan
Emily Myers
Anzela Niraula
Jacob O’Connor
Nayon Park
Marissa Parker
David Parsons
Cristian Proistosescu
Shua Sanchez
Paige Sechrest
Solmaz Shakerifard
Sam Sumpter
Judy Twedt
Jon Witt

UAW 4121 | UW Works Because We Do