Organizing for Equity at UW and within our Union

Over the years, UAW 4121 members have continually been committed to building a university and union founded on principles of equity and social justice. In December 2020, members passed a resolution outlining our commitments to upholding a union culture that centralizes equity and inclusion — both in the campaigns we organize around and in the way we conduct our organizing itself. As part of the ongoing work to live out these commitments, the Anti-Discrimination Working Group, EPIC team, and many others have been organizing and building resources geared towards empowering members to win structural change at UW, and to build equitable practices and culture within our union.

Find more information about some of this recent work below, and contact the EPIC Team and/or Anti-Discrimination Working Group to get more involved! In addition, next week’s membership meeting (Thurs 2/10 at 5pm) will include a longer discussion led by the Anti-Discrimination Working Group on these topics and how you can build organizing around them in your department. More info on the membership meeting will follow in an email later this week, and you can RSVP here.

2020-21 EPIC Report and Equity Survey Results

As you may know, in 2018, UAW 4121 members fought for and won one of the most innovative sexual harassment prevention programs in the country — the Empowering Prevention and Inclusive Communities (EPIC). EPIC is an interactive, peer-to-peer prevention training program, and it is enshrined in both the Academic Student Employee contract and Postdoc contract. Because the EPIC program is jointly developed and implemented between our union and the university, it is highly transparent and accountable to ASEs and Postdocs.

As part of ongoing work to ensure the program is member-driven, the EPIC team has now released its 2020-21 annual report as well as the results of the 2020-21 equity survey

Highlights of EPIC’s work in the 2020-21 Academic Year: 

  • Trained 669 ASEs and 115 Postdocs across 29 departments.
  • Revamped curriculum on key skills, and rebooted the EPIC 2.0 training.
  • Hired and onboarded new ASE and Postdoc trainers after winning additional funding during bargaining.
  • Piloted Postdoc-specific trainings in coordination with the Postdoc Organizing Committee.
  • Trained 150+ ASEs and 20+ Postdocs in Electrical & Computer Engineering, and developed a toolkit for implementing similar department-wide trainings in the future.
  • Continued running comprehensive evaluations, and found significant increases in participants’ awareness and willingness to intervene.
  • Worked with the Anti-Discrimination Working Group to implement and analyze the 2020-21 equity survey.

UAW 4121 Facilitation Guide

The Anti-Discrimination Working Group is excited to release the UAW 4121 Facilitation Guide! This guide grew out of many conversations over the years amongst 4121 members about how to create union spaces that meaningfully advance equity — not only in the demands we make of University administration, elected officials, and other decision-makers, but also in the practices we build and develop internally as union organizers.

This guide is developed by and for members of UAW 4121, particularly active members who have or will facilitate union meetings or events — including workgroup meetings, committee meetings, membership meetings, department/area meetings, etc.  It is intended as a tool for collectively building skills in intentional, effective facilitation that advances equity in union work. It includes:

  • Concrete strategies for proactively and continually building inclusive, equitable meetings, including: establishing group norms, creating a welcoming and inclusive environment, building meeting structure/process, interrupting harmful moments, taking accountability, and holding space for healthy disagreement.
  • A self-assessment tool for growing your facilitation skills.
  • Info on roles, responsibilities, and rights of both meeting facilitators and other participants.
  • Scenarios for discussion and practice.

All workgroups and committees are encouraged to read the guide and use it to help shape practices in your group. The Anti-Discrimination Working Group is also developing a training on the guide — be on the lookout for more info soon! In the meantime, if you have questions, feedback, or would like to get more involved, contact the Anti-Discrimination Working Group.


Toolkit: Starting and Sustaining a DEI Committee

As we previously shared, our Anti-Discrimination Working Group has also released a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) toolkit! Over the last few years, UW-UAW equity surveys have demonstrated that more needs to be done to support minoritized ASEs & Postdocs – especially those who are BIPOC, trans & queer, disabled, international, and caregivers. To address these and other similar issues, many departments have begun or revived existing DEI committees. Unfortunately, DEI committees lacking a clear direction have often been ineffective, exhausting, or even actively harmful.

The toolkit seeks to address these dynamics by providing a theory of change rooted in empowerment & tools for enacting that change. It provides suggestions for developing a strategic plan, understanding power, & developing effective, transparent, & sustainable action plans. This is a living document & all 4121 members are encouraged to get involved in using & further developing it! In addition, the Anti-Discrimination Working Group is developing plans for piloting its use in a number of departments — if you’re interested in using it in your department, or have questions, contact the Anti-Discrimination Working Group.