February Newsletter

Thanks to the active work of thousands of workers across the country, we are in a moment where the labor movement has incredible momentum and opportunity. But that momentum won’t keep growing on its own, and it won't translate into structural change on its own. To meet this moment, it is critical that workers across Region 6 and beyond! rapidly and systematically scale up organizing work -- including by identifying and recruiting new leaders, engaging every worker 1-1, developing transparent & participatory member education, and continuing to escalate coordinated mass action. 

Across Region 6, this work is already underway in a number of arenas, with members building bold, participatory campaigns to win big in new organizing, bargaining, political work, and more. Together, we are building a labor movement where every worker has the skills, information, and support needed to be able to act powerfully with others – not only to win immediate gains at the local level, but also to reshape the status quo at a structural level and undo decades of corporate & institutional greed, win real advancements for social justice, and build a sustainable future for all. 

New Organizing

  1. Grad Researchers & Postdocs at Caltech decisively won their union election this month, with over 76% of graduate students and 83% of postdocs voting yes. 
  2. Adjunct Faculty at the USC School of Cinematic Arts also overwhelmingly won their union election – with 78% of all SCA Adjuncts participating in the vote, 94% voted yes. 
  3. The Board of Directors of the California Association of Professional Scientists (CAPS) unanimously voted to approve an affiliation agreement between CAPS and UAW. The decision now goes to a vote by CAPS members. 
  4. In the ongoing wave of organizing in the auto sector, a majority of workers at Volkswagen (Tennessee), Hyundai (Alabama) and Mercedes (Alabama) have signed union authorization cards. This month, the UAW International Executive Board (IEB) voted to commit $40 million to organizing in EV and auto industries over the next two years, and to establish a solidarity project to support Mexican autoworkers.
  5. Multiple higher ed organizing campaigns continue building pressure to win recognition – including Student Dining workers at UC Santa Barbara, Parking and Transit Student Workers at UC Berkeley, Operational Student Employees at Western Washington, and Student Employees at Central Washington

Our Labor, Our Movement Organizer Training Program

Teal banner with lime green text: UAW Region 6 Our Labor Our Movement Organizer Training Program, Applications due March 22.

Applications are now open for the Our Labor, Our Movement (OLOM) June-September 2024 cohort! OLOM is a three month full-time paid organizing internship to hone your organizing skills. The program brings together a cohort of new organizers who are placed on a variety of organizing campaigns across Region 6 – including California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Alaska. Participants will gain significant organizing experience during the three month program through a combination of structured training, support and connections across the cohort, hands-on practice on their campaign, and mentorship from experienced organizers. 

The labor movement is at an exciting moment, where there is unprecedented interest in class solidarity, collective action, and worker power. Here in Region 6, in the past year alone workers have won union recognition campaigns covering thousands of people – and in 2024, even more are rapidly launching campaigns to organize in higher ed, research, auto, and more. OLOM is your opportunity to work and learn with a growing team of dedicated organizers who are ready to usher forth a renewed, fighting labor movement. Applications are due March 22. For more information about the program and how to apply, check out the job posting.

Labor & Community Solidarity 

  1. Members of Region 6 turned out in support of a national day of action for Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants, who recently voted to authorize a strike. Region 6 Assistant Director Victor Quiroz and AFA-CWA International President Sarah Nelson (pictured) kept the energy high at the demonstration in Los Angeles. 
  2. Region 6 signed onto a letter to Sierra Club leadership in solidarity with Progressive Workers Union members currently fighting for a fair contract.
  3. Region 6 participated in a trinational convening, where union leaders from Canada, Mexico, and the US met to interchange ideas and strategize coordinated organizing in auto manufacturing, app-based work, domestic work, and more.

Contract Campaigns and Enforcement

  1. Grad Workers at University of Alaska (AGWA-UAW) are rapidly building power for their first contract. On February 20, grad workers joined a Senate hearing to discuss the critical role of graduate workers in achieving R1 status. In response, management canceled bargaining, arguing that AGWA had subverted the process. Admin’s delays could stall the finalization of a contract for more than a year since the state legislature must approve the contract during the legislative session. But AGWA members aren’t letting up – on February 27, workers confronted UA President Pitney in her office and demanded that bargaining resume immediately. Follow AGWA’s progress on their website and Instagram.  
  2. Academic Student Employees of Local 4121 at University of Washington began bargaining their next contract
  3. Educational Student Employees at Western Washington University (WAWU) continue bargaining for their first contract. Follow their progress on their website and Instagram
  4. Multiple units of Local 509 in aerospace and heavy truck are gearing up for contract negotiations this year. Members from all 4 units participated in a 3-day collective bargaining training to plan escalating, participatory campaigns.

Two AGWA members leading a long line of workers in an indoor hallway. Many workers are holding signs, and one sign in the front says “Pat Pitney’s Salary is $33,654/month. I make $17,000/year.”

Member Profile: Francesca Colonnese, Local 4121 

Member Spotlight is a 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!

My name is Francesca Colonnese, and I’m an ASE Head Steward at UAW Local 4121 and a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Washington. For my academic research, I study how to apply concepts about temporal perception to 19th century poetry, but my day-to-day consists of working as an instructor, teaching writing skills to the huge range of students here at UW. There is so much behind-the-scenes lesson planning, assignment grading, and administrative juggling that goes on for every hour of class I actually teach.

When I was an undergrad at Caltech, I never imagined being part of a large region of unionized student workers–-even though we needed the wages, benefits, and protections of unionization. I’m excited for the fight at Caltech and here at UAW 4121 as I lead the healthcare portion of bargaining negotiations. My union peers are a little afraid of how much I enjoy talking about the intricacies of medical insurance but I do this because it literally saves lives. Fellow 4121 members have told me how our good health insurance has helped them get the care they need to keep going, and how seeing our union stand up for mental health and gender affirming care has made them feel included at UW. No matter our workplaces, we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our health to do our jobs.

New Region 6 Local Numbers

  • After ratifying their first contract in December, Graduate Student Workers at USC (GSWOC-UAW) are now UAW 872
  • After ratifying their first contract in January, Academic Student Employees at WSU (WSU-CASE) are now UAW 4591
  • And following a membership vote to amalgamate Locals 2865 and 5810, ASEs, GSRs, Postdocs, and ARs at UC are now UAW 4811.

Political Action

A member of UAW 4811 yelling into a megaphone at a large rally.

  1. Region 6 endorsed Healthy Streets LA (HLA), a ballot measure to be voted on next month that would build safe streets for walking & biking, improve public transit, & reduce traffic congestion. 
  2. Members of Locals 4811 and 872 joined SAG-AFTRA for Ceasefire, CAIR-LA, Educators for a Ceasefire, Palestinian Youth Movement, ANSWER Coalition LA, and other unions and organizations, to hold the first Labor for Palestine LA rally at Los Angeles City Hall.
  3. Members of Local 4811 joined 400 workers from other Bay Area unions and other community members for a mass organizing meeting for Bay Area Labor for Palestine, holding workshops and planning for future actions. 
  4. WAWU members campaigned in support of Washington SB 5895, which would have enshrined collective bargaining rights for all student employees at public colleges in Washington. While the bill eventually stalled in committee, WAWU members and student employees at Central Washington remain committed to organizing.
  5. Region 6 members have been hitting the streets for pro-labor candidates! Members of Locals 4811 and 872 have gone door-knocking for LA City Council District 14 candidate Lalo Vargas, California State Senate candidate Kathryn Lybarger, and Alameda County Supervisor candidate Nikki Fortunato Bas.
  6. On February 15th, Washington’s House passed HB 1893, which would make striking workers eligible for unemployment benefits if their strike lasts for a week or more. On February 28, members of Local 4121 joined fellow union members from around Washington State for a rally to call for the bill to be passed in the Senate.

Message from Region 6 Director Mike Miller

A group of about 40 people posed for a photo outside. Several people in the front are holding signs and a red UNTA flag.

Congratulations to Grad Researchers & Postdocs at Caltech for overwhelmingly winning your union election, in a testament to the power of your collective action and tireless organizing. Congratulations also to Adjunct Faculty at the USC School of Cinematic Arts for winning your union election – a milestone that is helping build a wave of organizing to reshape USC. At both Caltech and USC, your UAW siblings across Region 6 look forward to taking inspiration from your campaigns for strong first contracts, and are ready to support you in these historic fights! 

Graduate workers at University of Alaska are in the midst of a major campaign for their first contract, where management is attempting to put off needed changes – like wage increases and protections against harassment – by more than a year. Graduate Workers’ resolute commitment to organizing and building power to win is an inspiration. Your Region 6 siblings have your backs!

We’re in a huge moment for organizing in EV, battery, and auto manufacturing, with more and more workers across the country signing union cards and leading new organizing drives every day. Greedy CEOs and shareholders have been making massive profits at the expense of workers for far too long, and this surge of organizing is the only way for workers to win a real say at the workplace and beyond. In this critical moment, I’m proud to have voted along with others on the International Executive Board to commit $40 million over the next 2 years to these efforts. We’re in a moment where we must urgently commit to developing more worker-led campaigns and widespread organizing training. I encourage Region 6 members to apply for the Our Labor, Our Movement training program to play an active part in turning all this organizing potential into a reality. 

As another critical part of this work, Region 6 Assistant Director Victor Quiroz, members from Locals 4811, 230, and 6645, and I participated in a trinational convening with labor leaders from Mexico & Canada to discuss strategies for coordinated organizing and solidarity. I was also proud to vote with others on the IEB to establish a new project to support autoworkers in Mexico. This project will provide resources to Mexican workers and independent unions, and strengthen cross-border solidarity. For far too long, corporations have exploited cross-border divisions – particularly between US & Mexican workers – to weaken labor’s power. It’s time to show them how powerful we can be when we are united. 

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


UAW Job Openings

Interested in finding a job working for your union? A number of positions are open in various departments and levels of the UAW, and UAW members are especially encouraged to apply. Find open positions and information about how to apply at the UAW Indeed site

Upcoming Events

  1. Region 6 Gender Justice & Civil Human Rights Committee meeting: March 11 at 6pm via Zoom
  2. Region 6 Climate Justice Committee meeting: March 26 from 6-7pm via zoom
  3. Region 6 Education & Communications Committee meeting: March 15 from 12-1pm via zoom
  4. Region 6 Political Action (CAP/PAC) meeting: Saturday, March 16 at 10am via zoom
  5. The UAW Financial Officers’ Conference is March 3-8 in Houston.
  6. The UAW Education Committees Conference is April 14-19 at the UAW Family Education Center in Onaway, Michigan. Contact your Local for more information. 
  7. The UAW Health & Safety Conference is May 5-10 at the UAW Family Education Center in Onaway, Michigan. Contact your Local for more information. 
  8. The 53rd International Convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) will be held May 21-27 in Houston, Texas. Contact your Local for more information.

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