Amzi Jeffs

Candidate Statement: I first got active with our union during our 2018 contract campaign and strike, and have since served on our Defense Committee and as math department Steward. I am running for Head Steward because I want to help build more organized power in our union and fight to win a truly equitable contract for ASEs and Postdocs next year.

The UW administration has always tried to balance its budget by cutting our lean wages, increasing fees, and eroding our hard-won benefits. Faced with the COVID-19 crisis, President Cauce has brought out familiar austerity talking points: budget cuts, “hard choices,” and vague assurances that “our values will guide us.”

In our 1-to-1 organizing we need to preemptively counter the lie that “there isn’t enough money” to give us a good contract. We can point out huge administrative salaries and skewed budgetary priorities, and the massive profits being made by billionaires and corporations like Amazon during the COVID-19 crisis. If the administration wants to address budget shortfalls, they should stand alongside us and demand that the state legislature fix Washington’s regressive tax system by taxing the rich to fund higher education. With this fighting approach, we can raise demands like wage increases that actually keep pace with Seattle’s exploding cost of living.

Another key to a successful campaign will be continued solidarity with undergraduates, faculty, and other campus unions like WFSE and SEIU, because all of us will be under attack from the same administration. By fighting together on joint actions and demands, we can stop UW from pitting us against one another, or balancing the gains of some with cuts that harm others.

We should take heart that workers and students across higher education are moving into struggle, from ongoing union campaigns at Harvard and Columbia, to wildcat strikes across the University of California system for living wages. A deeply organized and militant approach to next year’s contract campaigns will help win us more at UW, as well as strengthen this broader movement.

Beyond campus, we face waves of crisis: skyrocketing housing costs, unemployment, COVID-19, and climate change. Meanwhile, our political system has repeatedly shown that it is unable to meet the needs of ordinary people, with even progressive leaders subject to destructive pressures from big business. A strong, fighting labor movement can keep government accountable, win decisive systemic changes, and build the institutions needed to truly represent our needs, such as a new party for working people.

I have been involved in politics through Socialist Alternative, and I’m proud of our union’s political record in Seattle, such as our support for the Tax Amazon movement, active work on socialist candidate Kshama Sawant’s election campaigns, mobilizing against Trump’s travel ban, and joining the 2019 Climate Strike. Continuing these broader interventions will be crucial to winning the world we need.

I look forward to organizing and taking action alongside my union siblings at UW next year, and continuing to show that when we fight, we can win.