• Summer 2022 Update: Our Summer 2022 organizing training series will run from July 12-August 30! For more info, check out recent membership emails and RSVP here.

    Building a strong, democratic union depends on continually growing member participation and leadership through our ongoing organizing work. Organizing is a skill that must be continually developed and practiced. Particularly in units like ours that experience high turnover, our ability to take mass collective action relies on our ability to continually identify, engage, and develop new leaders and organizers. Much of this day-to-day work happens through department-level and unit-wide organizing committees that are open to all members.

    Over the years, our organizing committees and workgroups have developed the workshops below as spaces to build core organizing skills and power together. These workshops are typically offered once or twice a year as new stewards are elected. However, we are also able to schedule them by request for your workgroup, department organizing committee, or even just a small group of interested members.

    In the coming year, our newly formed Political Education Workgroup will be developing this infrastructure out even more. Please get in touch at political-education@uaw4121.org for more information about existing workshops, to request an existing workshop for your group, to request specific topics for future workshops, or to get involved with the workgroup!

    For more on existing trainings, workshops, and resources, click on the links below to jump to each section:


    Upcoming Trainings & Events

    During Winter 2022, ASE and Postdoc Organizing Committee are regularly running trainings on one-to-one organizing and orientation prep on as-needed basis, as well as at the beginning of membership engagement phonebanks every week. Contact the Organizing Committees for more info!

    More info on upcoming organizing trainings will be shared soon.


    Engaging Fellow Members & Building Power

    1-to-1 Organizing

    This session focuses on building up skills in the foundational tool for growing our power: one-to-one organizing. This includes talking to our colleagues about membership and other organizing efforts we pursue as a union. All are welcome! This session is particularly helpful for new folks.

    Engaging New ASEs and Postdocs

    In this session, we focus on building empowering engagement with new ASEs and Postdocs in our departments before and after orientations. This collaborative session includes workshopping plans for effective orientations, engaging new folks to build relationships before they arrive, building political education in our departments, organizing area meetings, and more.

    Presenting at New Member Orientation 

    This is a small participatory workshop, where we talk together about the key points to communicate about our union and rights under our contracts, and discuss best practices for engaging new ASEs and Postdocs as they are starting out their appointments. We also go through important logistics for both Zoom and in-person sessions. The ASE OC typically schedules a number of these sessions in August/September in preparation for Fall Orientations, and the Postdoc OC offers them on an as needed basis.

    Power Analysis & Building a Departmental Campaign

    This session explores the nature and sources of our power as a union, and how we can leverage that power in order to push for change. We discuss the mechanics of powerful departmental campaigns, identifying & activating new leaders, developing a departmental organizing committee, building accountability in organizing, and more. This session is intended for people who have at least some previous experience with 1-to-1 organizing.


    Equity and Inclusion in Organizing

    Handling Microaggressions as a TA

    Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. As Teaching Assistants and Instructors, we navigate nuanced interpersonal and power dynamics while delivering a variety of content across departments. This workshop focuses on building awareness of language/behaviors and increasing our accountability skills to use in these moments.

    Organizing for Equity 

    As recent studies and our annual equity surveys have shown, underrepresented folks in academia and at UW face a high prevalence of discrimination and harassment. Over the past several decades, the typical institutional response to these issues has been to implement surface-level policies that prohibit harassment and discrimination. In this session, we discuss an alternate approach that instead focuses on restructuring power hierarchies that undergird and enable harassment and discrimination. In particular, we explore how unionizing and organizing through unions is a uniquely effective way to take on inequity, because unionization is fundamentally about restructuring power to empower working and oppressed people. We further discuss how, concretely, we can build power in our union through collective action.

    Care-Based Organizing

    In response to the COVID pandemic and movement for Black lives, Gregg Gonsalves and Amy Kapczynski recently called for a “new politics of care” organized around three pillars: First, “universal provision for human needs;” second, “countervailing power for workers, people of color, and the vulnerable;” and third, “a rejection of carceral approaches to social problems.” These principles call on a long history of praxis found in Black feminism, abolitionism, union organizing, and more, and can give us a foundation for organizing that takes care and anti-oppression as both our aims and our methods. In this workshop, we discuss how we can build power to strategically advance a politics of care, and how we can adopt organizing strategies that themselves take a politics of care as their foundation.

    Facilitation Practices for Building Equity in Organizing Spaces

    In development for Winter 2022! This interactive session will be a complement to the UAW 4121 Facilitation Guide. It will provide space to work through challenges and best practices for creating accessible and inclusive organizing spaces and meetings. It will be designed for any UAW 4121 member, but especially those who are active members of workgroups and organizing committees. It will cover strategies for facilitating discussion, creating an accessible environment, establishing group norms, holding space for healthy disagreement, and interrupting harm. Participants will have the opportunity to talk through tailored scenarios and to work through guided self-assessments.


    Empowering Prevention and Inclusive Communities (EPIC) 

    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) training program (UW websiteUAW 4121 website). EPIC is an interactive prevention training program, jointly run between our union and the university.

    As of Fall 2021, EPIC offers two core trainings:

    • EPIC 1.0 focuses on discussing power, bystander intervention, and community building practices, all aimed at helping individuals develop skills to proactive create more welcoming and inclusive cultures in their departmental and union spaces. Using scenarios tailored to your specific department, the 1.0 training offers practice in skills like micro-affirmations, calling in, and calling out.
    • EPIC 2.0 builds on the skills in EPIC 1.0, going beyond the level of individual behavior to focus on changing the environments we exist in at UW. Participants work together to develop deeper power analyses, discuss strategies for addressing harassment as a structural problem, and make concrete plans for building community and action in your department.

    To schedule an EPIC training in your department, email epicprogram@uw.edu. To register for an existing training, check out the EPIC website. EPIC trainings specifically designed for UAW 4121 Stewards and other organizers are also scheduled at least once per year.


    Know Your Rights

    Below you’ll find a summary of a few past know your rights trainings and info sessions. If you have questions about your rights under our ASE and/or Postdoc contracts, please contact contractenforcement@uaw4121.org. Additionally, if you have questions about visa or immigration issues, you can reach out to our International Solidarity Workgroup at intl-workgroup@uaw4121.org.

    • Return to Campus Health & Safety (September 2021, January 2022): At the September 2021 and January 2022 membership meetings, the Return to Campus Workgroup held a know your rights training covering our rights to a safe and healthy workspace, as well as other key rights in our contract for returning to in-person work. You can find more info here.
    • Visa and Immigration Updates Info Sessions (Summer & Fall 2020): Along with other UAW Academic Workers across the country, our International Solidarity Working Group held a series of info sessions, including on a proposed DHS rule that would have impacted F, J, and I visa holders. View the recording of the September 2020 session here!
    • Immigration Information & Strategy Forums (December 2016). Theresa Aliwarga, member of the UAW 4121 executive board and International Solidarity Working Group, spoke about possible changes under a Trump administration that could affect international students and scholars. She was joined by speakers from OneAmericaUW Leadership Without Borders and an immigration attorney who provided Know Your Rights information.
    • Find more information about your contractual rights here: Salaried ASEsHourly ASEs.
    • Find more information about protesting and safety rights here.
    • Find more information about your rights as a tenant here.


    Bargaining and Contract Enforcement

    Participatory Bargaining 

    In advance of our contract campaigns, our Bargaining Committees and/or Organizing Committees will hold workshops that cover the participatory bargaining process, how we can build power during negotiations, how we can collaboratively develop strong demands, and more. Be on the lookout for more information closer to bargaining! Also note that this work doesn’t stop between contract campaigns — any of the workshops listed above are great resources for building power before bargaining even starts.

    Contract Enforcement for Grievance Handlers

    This extensive training is held periodically for members of the Contract Enforcement Working Group, who meet weekly to process grievances and provide ongoing support to fellow ASEs and Postdocs around contract violations and other concerns about working conditions. The training covers the details of the grievance process, legal concepts and obligations around contract enforcement, investigation strategies, and trauma-informed interviewing practices. Note that this level of in-depth training is not necessary for typical stewards or department organizers — for more information about filling your role as a department steward or organizer, check out the Stewards Toolkit (coming soon!) or email contractenforcement@uaw4121.org.

    Contract Enforcement for Workgroups

    As needed/requested, the Contract Enforcement Workgroup can also develop more tailored trainings for specific groups/needs — e.g., contract enforcement on health and safety issues, on international student/scholar issues. For more information and to coordinate, email contractenforcement@uaw4121.org.


    Resources and Toolkits