The ASE and Postdoc Organizing Committees (OCs) each meet weekly to strategize and coordinate member-to-member organizing across UW. Our most basic aim is to build power for academic workers at UW and for vulnerable and working people in our communities more broadly. In particular we organize to restructure power at the UW to empower students and workers.
As OCs, we’re organizing not only to address current problems, but also to raise expectations about what kind of world is possible and to proactively build a University and community that meaningfully supports the wellbeing of working and vulnerable people. We’re committed to organizing that’s based in relationships of solidarity, accountability, and care.
In addition to the UW-wide OCs, many departments/areas have OCs that meet regularly and coordinate with the ASE OC and Postdoc OC. ASEs (and non-ASE grad students) email firstname.lastname@example.org, and Postdocs email email@example.com for more info.
For more information about our organizing principles, ongoing work, and how to get involved, continue reading!
Our organizing is driven by a number of core commitments to worker power and agency:
Collective action gives us more rights and more power
We know our ability to create structural change is a direct function of how effectively we’re able to come together as supermajorities of ASEs and Postdocs to take collective action. This depends on our ability to develop strong networks of trust, accountability, and solidarity with each other. It also depends on our ability to help fellow workers understand for themselves that their issues can only be solved through collective action.
We are the union
We are committed to building a democratic, member-driven labor movement, and we focus on deep member-to-member organizing. We know that 1-to-1 conversations are the foundation of strong unions because it’s through 1-to-1 conversations that we are best able to build deep relationships and accountability, identify issues, and build up worker agency.
What We Do
As OCs, we work to build a powerful, fighting union that’s based in networks of deep trust, accountability, and mutual investment in each other. The specific campaigns we pursue vary over time, but regardless of the campaign, we focus on a few key components to building power:
One of the most important ways we build power and mutual investment in each other is through signing up colleagues to become union members. We work to build strong membership by connecting with fellow ASEs and Postdocs through both orientations and one-to-one conversations. In 2020, we signed up more than 1000 new union members!
Mobilizing Membership Action
Another key way we build and demonstrate power is by mobilizing majorities of all ASEs and Postdocs to participate in specific actions, called structure tests. These are time-limited actions like surveys, petitions, and direct actions that build power around a specific topic, provide concrete tools for engaging all members on a 1-to-1 basis, and enable us to assess our overall organizing capacity at a given time. Ultimately structure tests are tests of worker agency — i.e., a way of assessing how well members across the UW are recognizing that our ability to change the problems we face is directly proportional to our ability to exert our agency together.
Building Leadership Networks
Building a strong, democratic union depends on continually growing member leadership. Deep 1-to-1 organizing is most effective when it’s driven by departmental organizers and leaders connecting with fellow ASEs and Postdocs through existing and organic relationships or community networks. Further, the scale of 1-to-1 organizing needed to generate supermajority participation demands a large network of department-based organizers. The OCs continually work to identify more activists and organizers and help new department leaders grow their organizing skills. We have a number of organizing training and education resources available, including on topics of 1-to-1 organizing, care-based organizing, organizing for structural change, power analysis, and more.
As with all of our collective organizing efforts, this work is strongest when members are connecting with others from their own departments. All members are welcome and encouraged to participate! ASEs (and non-ASE grad students) email firstname.lastname@example.org, and Postdocs email email@example.com to get involved. Many departments/areas also have organizing committees that meet regularly, and are a great place for newer folks to plug in – contact either the ASE OC or Postdoc OC for more info! An organizer will follow up to get you connected and/or schedule time to meet with you for about an hour for new organizer orientation, where you’ll get a chance to work through the basics of 1-to-1 organizing, and get plugged in to ongoing work.