Bargaining, like all our work as a union, is a member-driven process. As in past contract campaigns, every significant movement UW Administration has made in bargaining has been a direct result of majority member action. The more Academic Student Employees (ASEs) across campus who participate, the stronger the contract we can win! Especially given the COVID crisis, we can anticipate negotiations to be difficult this year, which means that in order to make progress on member priorities, it’s more important now than ever for all ASEs to get involved. For more information, check out the Bargaining Center and ASE Organizing Committee.

There are a number of ways you can help strengthen your union and build our collective power for the contract campaign:

Participate in the Ratification Vote

The ratification vote opens Friday 5/21 and closes Friday 5/28 at 5pm. Please take a moment now to cast your ballot! It’s critical for every member to participate to ensure the results are as representative as possible. Find more information and resources for the ratification vote here. If you have concerns or questions about your ballot, email for help.

Info & Discussion Sessions

On 5/18/21, we reached tentative agreement with UW on a new three-year contract that includes 9.27% total wage increases for base rate and hourly ASEs, an additional paid EPIC trainer, as well as improvements we had previously won on gender affirming care, mental health, childcare, and more.

This tentative agreement is not yet final contract language. To be finalized, the contract must be ratified by a member-wide vote. If the tentative agreement passes the ratification vote, we’ll have a new contract immediately; if not, we’ll go back into bargaining. The ratification vote will be held online by the Elections Committee beginning this Friday 5/21 and will close Friday 5/28 at 5pm. To help make sure members have all the information needed to make an informed vote, all members are encouraged to join open info & discussion sessions.

If you are interested in attending, please fill out this form and you will receive Zoom information ahead of time!

Build our collective organizing capacity

Email to get connected with other organizers in your area and get support on how to deepen communication networks & build power in your department. If you are not yet a member, sign up today! You can also find more information about the ASE Organizing Committee here.


Previous Bargaining Actions

Bargaining Survey

Our Academic Student Employee Bargaining Survey reached overall majority participation in December with 51.5% of all ASEs participating. In just three weeks, more than 80 organizers from 50 departments directly contacted colleagues in over 161 hours of phone/text banking to turn out more than 2700 fellow members to share their priorities.

Bargaining Demands Strategy Meeting, 1/9/21

In preparation for ratification of the initial bargaining demands, members joined a strategy meeting on January 9. Members discussed the results of the bargaining survey and a draft of the initial bargaining demands, and also discussed and finalized organizing plans for generating strong membership participation on the demands.

Initial Bargaining Demands

The initial bargaining demands were developed based on the results of the bargaining survey, discussions at membership meetings, the 1/9/21 strategy meeting, two equity surveys, evaluation data from the EPIC program, and grievances over the past three years. Over three weeks in January, more than 2700 UAW 4121 members, representing 54% of all UW Academic Student Employees, signed on to ratify the initial demands. Organizers from departments across UW contacted colleagues to make thousands of individual member-to-member connections through more than 150 hours of phone and text banking.

February Membership Meeting

At the 2/11/21 membership meeting, over 60 union members discussed and voted unanimously in favor of a framework for wage proposals to bring to the bargaining table when ASE contract negotiations begin. Members agreed that significantly higher wages are needed to make UW competitive with peer schools, meet the needs of current members, and address equity on campus, especially recruitment and retention of underrepresented ASEs. 

Bargaining Info & Strategy Session, 3/5/21

Over 100 members joined a bargaining info session on March 5 to discuss bargaining proposals developed by workgroups — on topics including wages, fees, health insurance, campus climate, the EPIC program, childcare, and more. At the meeting, members also discussed the contract campaign trajectory and how every member can get involved to help build power for a winning campaign.

Contract Proposal Development

These workgroups, open to all members, researched and helped develop proposals for new contract language in coordination with the ASE Organizing Committee/Bargaining Committee. 

Bargaining info & strategy sessions

On April 22, members joined two bargaining info and strategy sessions for an open discussion on the bargaining process, where our proposals stand, and how we can all help win a strong contract. 

4/26 Bargaining Rally

On 4/26, we had our eighth and most powerful bargaining session with the UW administration. At lunchtime, nearly 1000 members and community supporters rallied in a clear demonstration to management that we are united and willing to fight for a strong contract. We are particularly grateful to our powerful community speakers, Kshama Sawant (Seattle City Councilmember and member of AFT 1789), Nikkita Oliver (community organizer and candidate for Seattle City Council), as well as our UW union siblings Dr. Heather Barnett (Residents & Fellow Physician Union) and Paula Lukaszek (WFSE 1488). Following the rally, more than 400 members stuck around for our bargaining session with UW administration. 

Screenshot of a zoom meeting with a 7x7 grid of zoom video tiles. Most participants have backgrounds with blue, yellow, and white UAW 4121 themes.

At our April 26th bargaining session, nearly 1000 members and community supporters came together to rally for a fair contract.

Membership Meeting Wed 4/28

As we near contract expiration on 4/30, we remain committed to reaching agreement on a strong new contract. On Wed 4/28, more than 300 4121 members joined a membership meeting and engaged in an extensive conversation about the current state of proposals, our strategy to win the best possible contract in our current negotiations, and how we can build a strong union in the long term.

May Day Membership Meeting

More than 300 members came together on 5/1 to to discuss our next steps and how to respond to any further offers from the UW administration. 

Bargaining Office Hours

While the bargaining straw poll was open for responses and in preparation for the Board of Regents action, organizers held open office hours for all members to ask questions about bargaining, get help drafting public comments to submit to the Board of Regents in writing (no RSVP necessary!), and more. These office hours were in addition to department-based area meetings many department stewards and organizers held. 

5/13 Board of Regents Meeting

More than 500 members & supporters turned out for a powerful action at the UW Board of Regents meeting, filling the Zoom room capacity as we demand a better contract offer from admin. In addition, over 100 union members delivered powerful written and spoken public comments:

  • We need to be able to afford to live in this city if we are to continue to do the essential research that makes this University work and that society relies upon to develop new therapies. We need for the opportunity to do this work and receive this education to be open to everyone, not just the independently wealthy. We need management to recognize this by offering us a contract that meets our proposals.” – Jacob O’Connor (Biochem)
  • “Many hourly ASEs make $1300 per month or less, barely more than the average cost to live in university housing. Without the lump sum or equivalent wage increase, high fees will only continue to disproportionately impact underrepresented ASEs.” – Levin Kim (iSchool)
  • See more comments from members here!

Bargaining Straw Poll

On 4/30, admin offered us their “last, best, and final” offer. Since then, members have been engaging in substantial discussion about the offer and our options for next steps — including in membership meetings, department meetings, and 1-to-1 conversations. To help guide next steps, more than 1000 members participated in the bargaining straw poll. Read the results of the straw poll here