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Candidates for ASE Head Steward

Tejas Devanur

photo of Tejas DevanurIt has become increasingly clear during our last two contract campaigns that in order to win a contract that actually meets our needs, we need to massively increase our level of organization and our confidence to fight.

From our one day strike in 2018, to our successful community rally and mass bargaining session this year, we as workers have made it clear that we are not okay with the status quo, and we are certainly not okay with UW admin’s attacks on our union rights. Despite the objective difficulties of the pandemic, we built great momentum in the last weeks of our campaign. The prospect of engaging in collective action, up to and including a strike, in order to fight for significantly more was tantalizing to many organizers and newly activating members. 

However, we saw yet again that the UW administration will give us the absolute minimum that they believe is required to stem our tide. If we ratify the contract we are currently voting on, does this mean that we are okay with a wage that leaves many of us rent-burdened, with a glaring lack of resources for our international student coworkers, etc.? Do we buy into UW admin’s excuses that there simply isn’t any money, as they celebrate their financial success and guard their $8 billion budget?

I don’t believe so. Very few people feel like our next contract is enough, and the fact that we didn’t win enough indicates concrete weaknesses that we need to address, not only as union leaders and organizers, but as rank-and-file members wanting more. We need to engage in the struggle to build a more fighting union and craft a credible fighting plan, from increasing our membership levels to developing organizers across campus. We should look to the successes of our union siblings, such as those at NYU, who won a strong contract after a weeks-long strike.

On a broader scale, we face wave after wave of crisis such as racist police brutality, attacks on reproductive rights, ongoing oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli ruling class, and accelerating climate destruction. As a member of Socialist Alternative, I believe that the labor movement, equipped with an organized and militant approach, will play a key role in these struggles.

In Seattle, we are facing the right-wing, billionaire-backed recall attempt against our socialist city councilmember Kshama Sawant. We must defend Kshama’s elected position, which she consistently uses to fight alongside movements, winning major victories including the $15 minimum wage, the Amazon Tax, and many renters protections. In addition to the Kshama Solidarity Campaign, we can engage in the fight for rent control in Seattle, putting pressure on the Democratic councilmembers to stand with working people against landlords.

Participating in these struggles not only means we don’t have to wait for the next contract campaign to win improvements to our lives, but also provides an opportunity to train our organizing muscles and prepare our members to confidently engage in collective workplace action when it matters most.

Brianne King

photo of Brianne KingHi everyone! My name is Brianne King and I am a 2nd year PhD student in Chemistry. I have been a Steward for this past year in my department. I am proud to be an advocate for my peers, and so often my role as a Steward is to support people in navigating issues stemming from toxic work environments, issues resulting from power imbalances with advisors, lack of mentoring support, and more. I have also been invested in the bargaining process of this year’s contract campaign, and through this process learned even more about the power of one-to-one organizing. Being at the bargaining table showed me exactly the type of institutional barriers we face as a union in winning needed improvements to our contract. I want to build on my knowledge as an advocate for my peers and work towards structural changes in my department, and then go beyond that and represent my peers university wide. I am deeply committed to fighting for ASEs at UW so that we can be supported in our work that this university relies on, and I am committed to fighting to make UW accessible to all. For these reasons, I am running as Head Steward. Thank you for your consideration!

Avi Matarasso

photo of Avi MatarassoAs a bioengineering steward and active member on our organizing committee over the past year, I’ve learned that being an organizer means listening to members. Once we’ve listened, we must organize around the challenges our most vulnerable members face. But our ability to achieve wins that are meaningful for our members depends entirely on our power. In my eyes, every year is a year that we must build the power necessary to fight for a better contract – whether there is bargaining at the end of the year or not. Building power in a non-bargaining year looks like more organizers in all departments and more involved membership. With greater power, we could win a contract that meets everyone’s needs, and that would be one of my main priorities as a head steward.

We must start organizing for our next contract campaign right now. I’m proud of the gains we won this contract campaign, but we need a supermajority membership fully engaged and aware of admin’s past bargaining tactics to win a contract that meets the needs of our members. How do we get there from where we are now? 

As a member of the joint council and as head steward, I will advocate for membership education and leadership development as we build for our next contract campaign. I will also aim to develop leadership within each department through organizer trainings and organizing teach-ins, which have been great tools to expand organizing capacity in the past. I believe through broadening our organizing capacity and developing our mobilization skills, we will best be prepared to advocate and fight for our membership.

We also need to consider proposing bold ideas that we can organize for outside of bargaining. Greater organizing capacity will allow us to strengthen initiatives in our working groups. We could build a campaign for an international student fund that supports the financial needs of international students planning to come to UW, as was proposed in bargaining and was unfortunately withdrawn. We can also further campaigns for housing justice as many of our ASE membership is rent burdened. We can do so if we organize with the intention of strengthening our power, and that will be my goal as a head steward.

Amal Nanavati

photo of Amal NanavatiHi folks! My name is Amal Nanavati (he/they) and I’m a second year PhD student in Computer Science & Engineering (CSE). I have been involved in CSE organizing for the last two years: having 1-on-1 conversations and signing folks up for membership; analyzing data to understand the strengths/weaknesses of our organizing approaches; running orientations and area meetings; and much more. Lately, I have been particularly involved in organizing undergrad ASEs, which has tremendous momentum and is a realm I intend to continue working in.

I think the biggest role of head stewards (during non-bargaining years) is to contribute to creating the culture of our union and our long-term vision. Therefore, I’d like to share my vision for what to do leading up to the next contract bargaining year:

1) We have seen how the contract campaign energized so many people and has gotten them involved. We need a concerted effort to have bold actions between contract campaigns, to grow that fighting spirit. We need to be organizing at the department level for an immigrant support fund and anti-racism reform, at the workgroup level for tenants’ protections and climate justice, and at a union-wide level for solidarity with all struggles of oppressed people worldwide.

2) We also must put concerted effort behind political education, organizing workshops, reading groups, etc. We need to improve our own skills as organizers, our awareness of systems of oppression, and our perspectives on how to build power to dismantle those systems of oppression. 

3) We need to continue being 4121 — “for one-to-one” organizing. We need to have conversations with all ASEs in our departments, we need to form connections across departments, and we need to focus on community building amongst ASEs. 

With these three foci — continuing bold actions between contract bargaining years, political education, and community building — I believe we can get to the 90% membership numbers and levels of engagement we need to put on a massive strike during the next contract campaign, and win the contract we deserve. Solidarity to all, and let’s keep fighting!

Dennis Young

Candidate did not submit a statement.


Candidates for ASE Physics Steward

Anthony Ciavarella

Candidate did not submit a statement.

Elias Lilleskov

Candidate did not submit a statement. 

Pyxie Star

Candidate did not submit a statement.