January Newsletter

Coming into 2024, we are in an important moment in the labor movement. Across sectors and across the country, more and more workers are recognizing that in the face of increasing corporate greed, climate crisis, and social injustice, a fighting labor movement is necessary for building the power we need to win real democracy in our workplaces, communities, economy, and global society. And more and more workers are getting involved – organizing, winning their unions, and building a renewed movement for working people. 

In 2023 in Region 6, more than 5,000 workers at non-union workplaces organized and won their unions decisively. Already in 2024, non-union workers in Region 6 are building new unionization campaigns that cover more than 50,000 workers in every sector and area of the region. Importantly, these campaigns are all following a worker-led model we know works – one that focuses on building a strong, active, representative network of worker organizers in every part of the workplace, who build and maintain mass majority action and democratic decision-making. This kind of worker-led organizing is the only approach that can withstand challenges from the boss, win at every stage of the campaign from recognition to first contract and beyond, and generate organizing on the scale necessary to really redistribute power. Coming into the new year, members across Region 6 are putting these principles into action – demonstrating what’s possible when we continually lift up the capacity of workers to organize ourselves to take on bosses and win what we deserve.

New Year, New Organizing!

  1. At the January Political Action & Leadership Conference, workers from 16 organizing campaigns in multiple sectors around the Region – including higher ed, research, manufacturing, and EVs – joined to share updates about their organizing & build coordinated plans with current members. 
  2. Graduate Researchers and Postdocs at Caltech are having their union election on 1/31 and 2/1.  
  3. After filing for recognition in December, Adjunct Faculty at the USC School of Cinematic Arts are having their union election from 1/31 to 2/22. 
  4. Student Dining workers at UC Santa Barbara and Parking and Transit Student Workers at UC Berkeley both recently filed cards and continue pushing for union recognition.  
  5. Operational Student Employees at Western Washington University continue their fight for recognition, including by organizing for collective bargaining legislation in Washington State along with Student Workers at Central Washington University.
  6. Postdocs at Washington State University continue their fight for recognition, after filing union authorization cards in September. 
  7. Non-union autoworkers around the country continue organizing to form unions as a part of Stand Up 2.0. As of this month, over 30% of Mercedes workers in Alabama and Volkswagen workers in Tennessee have signed union cards.

Contract Campaigns and Enforcement

  1. 1,800 Academic Student Employees at Washington State University won their first ever contract following a historic 3-hour strike on January 17th. On January 25th, members voted 99% yes to ratify the contract (1,169 yes votes, 15 no votes, with 68% voter turnout). This contract brings about major improvements including up to 49% increase to base salary, six weeks of paid parental leave, lowered out-of-pocket costs for healthcare, among others. This agreement delivers critical improvements for ASEs at WSU, and raises standards for academic workers everywhere.
  2. A number of units across the region are in bargaining for their first contracts, including Graduate Fellows at Pardee/RAND, Grad Workers at University of Alaska, and Educational Student Employees at Western Washington University

Hundreds of WSU-CASE members holding strike signs in the snow

Member Profile: Raul Ubaldo, Local 509

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!

Hi UAW Region 6! My name is Raul Ubaldo, and I’m from Local 509. I work at Monogram Aerospace in Commerce, CA. There are over 200 workers at Monogram, and we’ll be negotiating our next contract starting in June! I’ve been working at Monogram for over a decade, where I’m a part of a team that handles the receiving & shipping processes for producing specialized fasteners (e.g. nuts and bolts) used in aircraft assembly. My work bookends the production process – after receiving raw materials such as titanium, we sample them for quality control purposes before sending them to the production line. After the fasteners are cut, shaped, and checked for quality, we ship them out to be used in aircraft assembly. 

I witnessed the power of a union firsthand shortly after I got involved in Local 509 as a committeeperson when my employer tried to illegally fire temporary workers. We filed a grievance and won – my coworkers got their jobs back as well as the back pay they were owed. Since then, I’ve loved serving as a committeeperson and connecting with my coworkers to make sure our worksite is safe. Outside of work, I enjoy taking long walks on the beach (shoutout to Manhattan beach!) as well as DJ-ing events around the Los Angeles area.  

I’ve been inspired by all of the conversations I’ve had with Region 6 siblings over the last year, and I’ve never been as energized or excited by our collective power than at this moment. I want to keep learning about everyone’s struggles & fights regardless of sector and geography, and look forward to meeting you all!

Political & Community Action

Hundreds of UAW 2865 & 5810 members holding signs reading "UAW for a Permanent Ceasefire"

  1. On January 26, Academic workers from Local 2865 and 5810 joined members of AFSCME Local 3299 and community members in Oakland to fight for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the occupation of Palestine. Meanwhile in Seattle, members of Local 4121 joined with Seattle DSA and other community members taking direct action to pressure Rep. Adam Smith to join the call for a ceasefire.  
  2. UAW Region 6 members from Locals 2865, 4123, 509, and 5810, plus allies from Jobs to Move America, attended a Los Angeles Metro Board meeting on January 25 to urge LA County officials to hold Hyundai-Rotem to fair labor standards on a $730,000,000 contract to build light rail cars. Hyundai workers in UAW Region 4, who are currently fighting for a union of their own, called into the meeting in solidarity. 

Ten UAW & JMA members with fists raised standing around a model of light rail cars

UAW CAP Conference Recap

Last week, over 30 delegates from Region 6 attended the National UAW Community Action Program (CAP) Conference in Washington DC from 1/21 to 1/25. Workers met with elected officials from all over the Western states, including Catherine Cortez Masto & Jacky Rosen (NV), Mark Kelly (AZ), Ro Khanna (CA), Andrea Salinas (OR) and Patty Murray (WA), the head of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the president pro tempore of the senate. Region 6 delegates set five political priorities: a worker-led just transition, more funding for science, comprehensive immigration reform, retirement benefits for all workers, and a permanent ceasefire in Palestine. Workers also heard from speakers including Rashida Tlaib, Ed Markey, Julie Su, and Bernie Sanders during the plenary sessions. 

On the last day of the Conference, following our International Executive Board’s vote to endorse President Biden in his bid for a second term, delegates met to talk about how the endorsement would affect building political power in 2024 and to strategize ways to hold our elected politicians accountable (read more on this below!). Coordinating to enact our region’s political priorities is a democratic process that will continue throughout the year, and you should get involved—the Region 6 Western States CAP/PAC meetings are on the third Saturday of every month (RSVP here for more info) and get in touch with your Local or campaign for more information on local & statewide political workgroups. 

3 UAW members wearing red shirts with Rep Rashida Tlaib

Message from Region 6 Director Mike Miller: Region 6 Committee to Push Biden to Support Democratic Labor Movement & Global Working Class Solidarity

Dear Region 6 Family,

At the recent UAW bi-annual Political Conference in Washington D.C. (where UAW members come together to chart our Union’s course in political action for the next two years), the International Executive Board voted to endorse President Biden in his bid to be elected to a second term. President Fain explained the IEB’s reasoning for this choice in his speech to UAW members at the conference: “The question is, who do we want in that office to give us the best shot of winning? Of organizing. Of negotiating strong contracts. Of uniting the working class and winning our fair share once again.” Later on Face the Nation, President Fain added: “When GM went on strike in 2019, what did Trump do to support the striking workers, what did he say? Not a word. Joe Biden, when he’s been president, he’s stood with us. For the first time in history, a US sitting president stood on the picket line with us.”  

However, while President Biden has a clear record of standing with workers in many respects, he is also an imperfect candidate for U.S. President, especially in light of his failure, to date, to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and the inadequacy of his efforts to do away with student debt. The IEB voted to endorse Biden under the belief that working people will be able to push Biden further than any other candidate to act in accord with our vision of a strong, democratic, global working class movement, and with a commitment to continue pressuring him on these issues and more.

As Region 6 members discussed at the Political Action & Leadership Conference earlier this month, we are 100,000+ members strong in Region 6 and growing fast — and by continuing to build our collective power through aggressive new organizing, contract campaigns, and political action, we can transform the world we have into the one we deserve. To aid in our efforts to hold President Biden accountable to our goal of uniting the working class and winning our fair share once again, at the National CAP Conference, Region 6 members decided to form a committee for members to plan and execute how we will do that. The first meeting will take place on zoom on March 12 from 6-7pm. Please register here and you’ll get a link closer to the meeting. 


Reflecting on the GSWOC Contract Campaign

By Anna Weiss, GSWOC-UAW

Dozens of GSWOC-UAW members wearing red shirts & holding pro-union signs

Last year in April 2023, over 3,000 graduate student workers at the University of Southern California (USC) began bargaining with our employer. Going up against USC, the largest private sector employer in Los Angeles with an annual endowment of $8 billion, we prepared for a militant contract campaign in order to secure the wins we’d come together to form a union for earlier that year. Some driving issues during the card drive were higher wages and more equitable pay, support for international workers, and protections from harassment and discrimination. The contract that a majority of GSWs ratified on December 6th not only included major gains in all of these areas, but set a strong foundation for future negotiations with the university as our first union contract. 

Early on, we identified that our power came from many sources but largely from our numbers and our labor, and therefore our ability to build a credible strike threat. Working backwards from that, we set to work building our capacity to pull off a majority strike and unite meaningfully against the boss. To do so, it was crucial that our effort was worker-led, and that we had a structure that was democratic and required our coworkers to participate.

We set out to identify and recruit department organizers or ‘area leaders’ to department organizing committees (DOCs) in departments which made up a majority of the unit. The job of area leaders was to attend regular DOCs with other area leaders in their department and recruit others to do the same, keep folks in their own area updated on bargaining, and mobilize them to come out to bargaining actions. Later, area leaders would also serve as the democratic representatives of workers in their departments to shape and land on a final agreement.

Using this structure, we turned out en masse to a bargaining session in June, organized our coworkers to sign onto a United for Workplace Justice letter in July, rallied for Workplace Justice and organized departmental deliveries of the letter in August, gathered for a Mass Membership Meeting in September, took a Strike Authorization Vote in October, and held a Last Chance Picket, set strike dates, and made strike plans in November.

By this point, we had built a strike threat so credible that 2 days before our deadline, USC made major concessions to avoid a strike, and we reached a tentative agreement. The agreement included a 12% raise to a $40k minimum stipend for the lowest paid workers, consistent year-over-year wage increases, 6 weeks guaranteed paid leave, a legal fund for international workers facing visa issues, substantial childcare and dependent funds, an agency shop and strong union access provisions, grievable protections for harassment and discrimination with clear timelines for interim measures, and more. 

The contract was ratified by a majority of GSWs approximately a week later with over 70% of GSWs voting and 81.4% voting yes. GSWs at USC now have an industry-setting contract that not only enshrines basic rights and protections that had been under the unilateral control of the university, but also sets a precedent for what's possible in the private sector. Now, as we’re writing bylaws, electing leadership, and organizing toward majority membership, we’re proud to help shape this moment in the labor movement alongside our coworkers in the region, and excited to keep building worker power here at USC.

 Upcoming Events

  1. The next meeting of the Region 6 Gender Justice & Civil Human Rights Committee will be February 12 at 6pm via Zoom. RSVP here
  2. The Region 6 Climate Justice Committee is meeting January 30 from 6-7pm. To join, fill out this form & select “yes!” on the last question.
  3. The Region 6 Education & Communications Committee meets on the 3rd Friday of each month at 12pm via Zoom. RSVP here.
  4. The next monthly Region 6 CAP/PAC (Political Action) meeting is Saturday, February 17 at 10am via zoom. RSVP here
  5. The UAW Financial Officers’ Conference is scheduled for March 3-8 in Houston.
  6. Check out the 2024 UAW Conference schedule for more info about national conferences coming up next year. 
  7. For more upcoming events & meetings, check out the Region 6 Calendar.  

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.