A crowd of people wearing blue UAW 4121 shirts crosses a street holding signs. One person in the center of the picture in a blue shirt holds a sign that reads "Free U-PASS Now"

UAW 4121 ASEs and Postdocs joined members of other UW Unions for a U-PASS rally during 2018 Coalition bargaining.


March 10, 2022: Exciting news! After years of continuing our coalition efforts to extend the free U-PASS to all, the UW Regents voted to begin providing a fully subsidized U-PASS to all faculty and staff!  Our foundational work through coalition bargain, direct action, and then an arbitration victory in 2018 set the stage for continued action. We’ve continued to work with campus unions, organizations like the Professional Staff Organization and AAUP, as well as partners like the Sierra Club and the Transit Riders Union, to push for a universal free U-PASS. This is another important milestone to secure a free public transit future, and improve emissions and livability.

U-PASS victory for workers at UW!

We’ve taken another major step forward in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, support public transit and reduce out of pocket costs for ASEs by securing a free U-PASS for bargaining unit employees – including hourly ASEs – starting Fall Quarter 2020.

As you may know, this victory was several years in the making and followed efforts by ASEs, Postdocs, and other unionized UW employees to make Free U-PASS for All a priority demand.  Our union coalition lobbied UW and the Seattle City Council with support from community groups like the Transit Riders Union, and took action both at the bargaining table and in the streets. In Spring 2018 we negotiated that any conditions agreed upon during coalition bargaining regarding the U-PASS would be applied to the 2018-2021 contract.  In September 2018, the UW union coalition agreed that bargaining unit employees would receive a free U-PASS starting July 1, 2019. When UW reversed their position and claimed that hourly employees were not covered, we filed a grievance alleging that this was a violation of our ASE contract. After an arbitration hearing, UW has agreed to resolve the grievance.

Bob Hodges testifying in 2016 along with other union members about the campus master plan, making the case that UW needs to prioritize affordability, transit, immigrant rights, access to childcare, lactation stations, and all gender restrooms.

The Settlement Agreement, pursuant to the grievance we filed in March 2019, provides that:

  • Hourly ASEs (Tutors, Graders, Readers, Undergraduate TAs and Undergraduate RAs) will receive a free U Pass for at least 8 quarters beginning in Fall 2020.  This equals the number of quarters between Summer 2019, when the free U-PASS went into effect, and Spring 2021, the expiration of the contract.
  • ASEs holding a summer GRSA appointment (in which the ASE does not enroll in credits and therefore does not receive a student U-PASS) are excluded.  However: GRSA summer appointments are limited and could be substituted for U-PASS-eligible appointments with consent from your supervisor.
  • All other ASEs will continue to receive the free U-PASS through the expiration of the current CBA.

We of course will bargain over lengthening these durations in contract negotiations next Spring.

Not only is this a huge win for UW hourly ASEs, but it also helps build momentum for a free U-PASS for all.  Our union siblings in SEIU 925, SEIU 1199, and WFSE 1488, who fought alongside us and are actively pursing their own grievances over this issue, deserve our full support.  The fight for equity and climate justice at UW continues, and we’ll keep fighting until all students and workers at UW receive a free U-PASS! 

If you have any questions, please contact us at uaw4121@uaw4121.org