Dec Newsletter: 2023 in Review, New Organizing, & More

As 2023 comes to a close, we have much to celebrate in the incredible work we’ve accomplished together in just our first year as a re-formed Region 6: 

  • Thousands of Region 6 workers won decisive union recognition campaigns in 2023 – at USC, RAND, WWU, University of Alaska – and thousands more continue organizing to win their unions. 
  • Through rigorous organizing and mass member participation, multiple units ran bold contract campaigns to win historic contracts, including the Big 3 Stand Up Strike, the UW researcher strike, a massive strike threat at USC, and a still-escalating strike threat at Washington State University.
  • Members launched aggressive contract enforcement campaigns – e.g., Academic Workers at University of California took mass action to fight retaliation. 
  • Through concerted political organizing, members helped win progressive local legislation and passed collective bargaining legislation in Washington. Members in California organized bipartisan support for a slate of pro-labor bills (and look forward to holding Gov. Newsom accountable for his vetoes). And in October, Region 6 joined the call for a permanent ceasefire in Israel & Palestine – a call recently adopted by the full UAW International Executive Board. 

All of this work has only been possible because of the active participation of thousands of members across all sectors of Region 6. Our progress in 2023 is also a testament to what members knew would be possible when we began organizing to re-create Region 6: We set out to build a fighting, progressive, worker-driven union, and in 2023, members have shown what’s possible when we act on those commitments.  

There is still much to do in the fight to build a world that centers the needs of working people, ensures a liveable future for all, and advances social justice both locally & globally. As we head into 2024, workers across Region 6 are already doubling down on the urgent work to build a renewed, fighting labor movement. Keep reading to learn more, and join the Political Action & Leadership Conference in January to set plans for building even more power in 2024.

 New Organizing

A large group of AFA members and supporters posed for a photo outside, holding AFA signs.

  1. In the past month, nearly 4000 workers in a range of organizing drives in Region 6 filed union authorization cards in the process towards winning their unions, including: 
    1. Postdocs and Graduate Researchers at Caltech (election upcoming in January!)
    2. Adjunct Faculty at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (election upcoming in January!)
    3. Student Dining Workers at UC Santa Barbara
    4. Parking & Transportation Student Workers at UC Berkeley
    5. Operational Student Employees at Western Washington University 
  2. In the wake of the historic Stand Up Strike, non-union autoworkers across the country, including here in Region 6, are ramping up organizing drives. Join the Region 6 Political Action & Leadership Conference in January to learn more about this exciting work directly from organizing autoworkers. 
  3. Student Workers at Central Washington University are organizing to form a union. 

A large group of C/GPU members posed for a photo, many wearing blue C/GPU tshirts.

Contract Campaigns & Enforcement

  1. Academic Student Employees at Washington State University set a strike deadline of January 17, 2024 in their fight for a first contract. This escalation was decided at a mass meeting of ASEs on December 17, and comes after months of organizing & building widespread participation in bargaining.  
  2. Graduate Student Workers at University of Southern California ratified their first contract with an 81.4% yes vote. This is a historic contract that sets a new standard for Graduate Student labor at USC and across the country. 
  3. Educational Student Employees at Western Washington University continue bargaining for their first contract, and workers at University of Alaska and Pardee/RAND gear up to begin bargaining. 
  4. UAW 2865 and 5810 members used the environmental justice language in their union contracts to score two major Bargaining for the Common Good victories this month:
    1. Workers at UCSF negotiated to extend the Clipper BayPass pilot program to 6,000 workers on campus, including 3,000 workers without a union contract.
    2. Academic workers expanded discounts of up to 61% on e-bikes to all UC workers, including tens of thousands of workers without a union contract.

Member Spotlight: Beatrice Caffé, WSU-CASE

Member Spotlight is a new segment of the Region 6 Newsletter that profiles members from different Region 6 Locals and organizing campaigns each month. Get to know your fellow UAW members from across many industries and states! 

Beatrice Caffé wearing a red UAW Region 6 tshirt.

Hi all, my name is Beatrice Caffé from the Washington State University - Coalition of Academic Student Employees (WSU - CASE) campaign! We are Academic Student Employees on WSU campuses across Washington state organizing for our first contract after winning our union in 2022. After nearly a year of bargaining for our first contract despite delays from WSU Admin, we recently voted to set a strike deadline of 1/17/2023 if WSU Admin doesn’t agree to a fair contract by then. 

I work in Pullman, WA, where I serve as the primary instructor on a course on childhood and culture for WSU students. A typical day for me involves a lot of student interactions to support them in getting the most out of the class, including answering questions about course content, connecting them with further resources, and more. I got involved in union organizing after many years of working for diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives both in my academic department (Anthropology) as well as at the broader university level. I realized that a strong and fair contract would improve many of the issues my colleagues and I face while working as ASEs. Throughout our fight for a strong first contract, I've enjoyed working on and developing our campaign’s communications strategies with the rest of our comms team, especially on effective strategies to keep our unit informed on bargaining efforts.

For next month’s newsletter, I’m handing off the spotlight to Raul Ubaldo from Local 509!

Reflecting on the Big 3 Contract Campaign

By Joel Benefield, Local 230

12 UAW 230 members on the picket line, holding a large blue UAW 230 banner

Most of us when we think about organizing we often think of this: going into non-union shops and organizing workers to join the UAW. While that is true, It can also mean organizing our existing union members, and getting them active in our collective fight. For Big 3 workers and members of Local 230 going into bargaining this year, we knew that we needed a significant wage increase, a Cost of Living Allowance, the end to an abusive tiered wage system, & the end of the abusive system that kept supplemental employees (temporary workers) working on a temporary status with no real rights & no hire date in sight.

Our contract campaign was huge in the months and weeks leading up to the strike. At the national level, UAW President Shawn Fain & his team were great at keeping members up to date, through Facebook Live and news outlets. At the Local level, we were hard at work building unity and coordination. Some of the ways we showed solidarity included what we called a Red-Out – wearing only red shirts in solidarity. Another way was organizing members to not work any voluntary overtime in the days leading up to Local 230 being called upon to walk off their jobs. Both of these methods showed Management that we were no longer divided & that we weren't going down without a fight.

On September 15th at 12:00am the Big 3 walked off the job. The following week all the PDCs across Stellantis and GM were called to walk off their jobs, and thus Local 230 was out on strike, along with Locals 6645, 2162, and 492. Our Local 230 President Jesse Ramirez walked out side by side with approximately 55 first shift Local 230 members. Our message was clear: “No deals, No wheels.” 

In the following weeks, we organized rallies on the picket lines. These rallies were key for keeping members’ morale up, building a strong sense of camaraderie, and relieving the stress of the strike. In addition to social media and local news coverage, the rallies were extremely sharp tools used to gain public support and to keep our fight and demands as pervasive and possible. Many came out and walked the line including Teamsters, SAG-AFTRA, Carpenters Union, Machinist Union, as well as State Senators, Assembly Members, and members of the United States Congress.

Our efforts would soon be victorious: On October 28th the strike was declared over, and members returned to work the following Monday until the contract was ratified on November 20th 2023 – emerging victorious knowing we, the UAW, had won.

Message from Region 6 Director Mike Miller

Congratulations to Graduate Student Workers at USC for ratifying a strong first contract, including major gains that will make the university more inclusive and equitable. The power of your collective action, strike threat, and wins at the table will be an inspiration to many more to follow. 

Academic Student Employees at WSU have set a strike deadline for January 17 should the university fail to agree to a fair contract. Across Region 6, your fellow UAW siblings are with you in solidarity until you win this important fight. 

Thousands of workers have filed petitions to form unions with Region 6 in the past month, including at Caltech, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, Western Washington University, and USC. We are excited to welcome you to the UAW family! Your Region 6 siblings are ready to support you, all the way from winning recognition to winning strong first contracts. 

After winning their union election earlier this year, Graduate Fellows at Pardee RAND will begin bargaining for their first contract in January. 

At the December International Executive Board Meeting, I was proud to join Region 9A Director Brandon Mancilla and my other colleagues on the IEB in moving for the UAW to join the call for a permanent ceasefire in Israel and Palestine, and to establish a Divestment and Just Transition working group. I look forward to working with UAW members across the country to win a just transition for US workers from war to peace, and to build a US foreign policy that actually serves the interests of working people.

Finally, I look forward to meeting with many of you at the Region 6 Political Action & Leadership Conference in January to continue planning our exciting work together in 2024.

As always, if you have questions or feedback, please shoot me an email.


Political & Community Action

9 UAW members standing on a sidewalk at the CAPS picket line, holding signs with messages of support for CAPS scientists.

  1. Earlier this month, CAPS State Scientists went on a three-day strike in their campaign for a fair contract. UAW Region 6 members were proud to walk the picket line in solidarity. 
  2. After a 12-day strike, Postdocs at Mt. Sinai reached a tentative agreement on their first contract! Members of Region 6 held a phonebank last week and raised more than $2000 for their strike fund. 
  3. UAW 2865 & 5810 members joined the campaign launch for Kathryn Lybarger for SD 7. 
  4. UAW Delegates joined the Cal Fed COPE Pre-Primary Endorsement Meeting. 
  5. Congratulations to Fellows at NIH, who won their union election with an overwhelming 97.8% yes vote! They are the first union of Fellows ever at a federal research facility. 
  6. UAW members joined members of Comite Civico del Valle in Calexico at the groundbreaking for the new Charger Equity Project to install EV charging infrastructure in California’s Imperial Valley.

13 people standing in a line holding shovels at a groundbreaking event.

Stay Connected & Share Your Updates

The Region 6 Newsletter is produced by the Region 6 Education & Communications Committee (ECC). If you have updates or stories from your Local/Organizing Campaign you’d like to share in a future newsletter, email [email protected]. All Locals & Organizing Campaigns in Region 6 are strongly encouraged to send members to participate in the ECC on an ongoing basis. Email [email protected] for more info. 

For regular updates and information, you can also check out Region 6 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and our website.