COVID-19 Resource Center


The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly changing situation that’s impacting our work, studies, and families. UAW 4121 members are playing a key role in our broader community’s response to the situation. Union members have been working to ensure that our hard-won rights under our collective bargaining agreement are protected and enforced, particularly as rapid changes in University policy might impact our health and safety or ability to effectively teach or complete research. We are proud to be a part of a strong coalition of UW unions working in solidarity for the rights and livelihood of all UW workers, including frontline healthcare and custodial workers who are among the most vulnerable in this pandemic.

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Return to Campus Info & Organizing

As we head into Fall Quarter and return to campus, there are still many unresolved questions about UW plans on vaccine attestation, masking, and safety precautions in a changing pandemic landscape. This is a rapidly evolving situation and our Health and Safety Working Group ( is keeping close attention as it develops. Please note that both ASE and Postdoc contracts ensure that we cannot be required to work in conditions that pose an imminent threat to health & safety (more info below).

ASE and Postdoc members are meeting on Mondays at 4pm to discuss and identify issues facing members and are actively developing organizing plans to enforce our health and safety protections. As part of this work, we recently met with UW administration to deliver letters outlining our concerns:

This work is ongoing, and the more members who get involved the better we’ll be able to ensure our rights to healthy and safe work environments are upheld. To get involved, please fill out your contact information here.


Know Your Rights

If you or others in your department are facing any issues or questions about your work, your first line of support is the Contract Enforcement Working Group, Members of Contract Enforcement have training and experience with the details and interpretation of both the ASE and Postdoc contracts, knowledge of past issues and how they’ve been resolved, and strategies for addressing problems both formally and informally. Below find a summary of some of your key rights — if you have questions or concerns about any of them, please get in touch right away. 

Click here for a downloadable version to share!

Health & Safety You can’t be required to work in conditions that pose an imminent threat to health and safety. 
Workload You can’t be required to work any unpaid hours. The typical TA/RA can’t be required to work more than 220 hours in a quarter, and workload has to be sufficient to maintain quality instruction. 
Paid Training The university/your department is required to provide any paid training that’s necessary to complete your work. 
Appointment Security Any appointment that you have been offered and accepted cannot be taken away. This includes hourly ASEs and international ASEs and Postdocs. International students/scholars who are facing issues are encouraged to get in touch with the International Solidarity Working Group at
Workspace & Materials The university/your department must supply equipment and materials necessary for completing your work and for maintaining safety. 
Leaves If you’re teaching and need to take sick leave, it’s your department’s responsibility to find you a substitute. 
Mental Health Both ASEs and Postdocs have access to leaves for health issues, including mental health. ASEs should not pay a deductible for any mental health services. 


Past Organizing Wins!

UAW 4121 members have shown up in force for each other and for our community to take action, including by organizing sign-on letters, participating in new working groups, filing grievances, and contributing to solidarity actions and petitions. We have rejected the calls for austerity, and are calling on the UW Administration to support Academic Student Employees and Postdocs, and particularly international scholars, who have been impacted by the pandemic to ensure they can continue their studies, work and research at UW.

Among many other successes:

  • No work in unsafe conditions: By organizing departmental sign-on letters, surveys, and coordinated group meetings with PIs, members have successfully gotten their departments and PIs to make arrangements for work to be completed at home. 
  • No loss of pay, no loss of hours: By taking action with representatives from the Contract Enforcement Working Group to assert their rights under our contract, hourly workers have successfully gotten their departments to provide compensation for all expected hours, even after being told their hours would be reduced. 
  • No unpaid work: Stewards and other organizers in many departments have been reaching out to fellow members in their departments to ensure everyone knows their workload rights, tracks all hours worked, and gets in touch right away for support if they’re regularly going over their hours. 


UW Resources 

Guidance and Resources most relevant to the work of Postdocs and Academic Student Employees can be found on the following pages:

COVID Testing at UW

  • Testing is FREE to everyone. Insurance is asked for in order to bill them (not you) if possible, but you can skip giving them insurance and still get tested if desired
  • Husky Coronavirus Testing: This is optional, but encouraged. Organized by Seattle Flu Study tea, with daily check-ins to monitor symptoms across UW. 
  • UW Medicine Testing Locations


Ask Questions & Get Involved

  • If you need assistance with any issues outlined here, email
  • For questions or concerns that aren’t addressed here, or if you have concerns about your health and safety at work, email
  • If you are interested in getting more involved in our Local’s work to address COVID-related impacts and support needs, join fellow members Mondays at 4pm to discuss and identify issues facing members and how we can organize around our health and safety protections. RSVP here.


Previous Updates

  • Access previous updates about the COVID-19 Pandemic here.

Last page update: Sept 14, 2021 at 2:30pm.