May Newsletter: Strike Spring

May Day kicked off a powerful month in Region 6, with UAW workers organizing historic strike actions up and down the West Coast:

  • AGWA (University of Alaska): Graduate Workers at UA won a strong, hard-fought first contract after launching a credible strike threat in late April. The contract was ratified UNANIMOUSLY on May 1 with over 70% of the unit voting in just 24 hours, and includes wage increases, appointment security, and much more. This win comes after months of AGWA members escalating pressure – including through rallies, legislative hearings, strike authorization, practice pickets, and direct actions in the lead-up to their strike deadline – to get an intransigent management to agree to a fair deal in time for the legislature to approve it. 
  • Local 4121 (University of Washington): Academic Student Employees at UW started bargaining in February, and quickly confronted a difficult administration. Through organizing mass rallies, practice pickets, a strike authorization vote, and rolling sit-ins, ASEs got admin to agree to strong terms on many contract priorities such as new benefits for international ASEs, but not wages. So on May 14, ASEs launched a strike, and that same day got admin to agree to the largest wage increases in the Local’s history. 
  • WAWU (Western Washington University): After more than 2 years of organizing – including successfully passing collective bargaining legislation, winning union recognition, bargaining for months, and ultimately striking for 2 days – the 1100 Educational Student Employees at WWU won an incredible first contract. This contract lays a path for college affordability at WWU, including a first-in-the-nation tuition-relief program for working undergrad students, and much more. ESEs ratified the contract by 99%, with over 60% of the unit voting. 
  • Local 4811 (University of California): As of Tuesday, almost 12,000 academic workers at UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis and UCLA are out on an unfair labor practice strike. UC has committed a series of extremely serious unfair labor practices that upend the rights of the union and academic workers and effectively undermine the contracts members fought for in 2022. UC has unilaterally changed policies on employee speech and discipline, without giving academic workers notice or negotiating these changes. They’ve then used these changes to violently suppress academic workers’ civil liberties. UC can resolve their unfair labor practices at any time but if they continue to stall and break the law, more campuses will be called to Stand Up.

Across workplaces, members are ready to do what it takes to win justice at work and beyond. And every day, thousands of Region 6 workers are building serious power together – through persistent, dedicated work to build militant strikes, political action, unionization drives, member engagement, and more – and actively driving forward the kind of fighting labor movement we need to win a just and sustainable future for all.   

New Organizing 

  1. More than 500 Postdoctoral and Research workers at University of Southern California are unionizing as URFU-UAW. With 67% support, this month URFU filed a petition with the NLRB to form a union. Onwards to a union election in June! 
  2. There’s still time to sign up for this summer’s YLOC-UAW Open Organizing School! Learn organizing skills through a series of online trainings and regular peer mentorship from experienced organizers in Regions 6 and 9A. Register here

Contract Campaigns

  1. Members of Local 509 at Senior Aerospace SSP kicked off their campaign for a new contract on May 20. The SSP Bargaining Committee is actively working to build the most powerful & participatory campaign they’ve ever had, and have been building escalation plans and member engagement for months.
  2. Grad Researchers and Postdocs at Caltech began bargaining for their first contract this week, with initial bargaining demands ratified by over 1000 workers.  
  3. Student Workers at University of Oregon also began bargaining for their first contract this week. The day before bargaining began, workers delivered a letter with over 1450 signatures demanding that admin agree to an open and transparent negotiation process. 
  4. State Scientists of Local 1115/CAPS are ramping up their bargaining for a strong contract that addresses the gender wage gap and provides fair compensation. 

Injury to One Conference Recap

About 50 UAW members posed for a group photo at the Injury to One Conference

On May 11 and 12, UAW members and workers on organizing campaigns from across the region came together in Oakland for the second annual Region 6 social justice conference, An Injury to One Is an Injury to All. Together, members discussed strategies for maximizing power to win structural change on social justice issues at the workplace and beyond. Through case study analysis, discussions on power, and skill-building workshops, members built new practical tools for advancing effective escalating campaigns that leverage multiple sources of power. Then in collaborative planning sessions, members strategized ways to build power and participation across Region 6 around several key topics, including: coordinated organizing & pattern bargaining to advance reproductive justice across Region 6 – including on topics like family leave, childcare benefits, and more; coordinated political action to win Opportunity for All in California and model similar legislation in other states; building inclusive union culture and proactively engaging member participation; and more. 

The conference concluded with an open discussion on ongoing organizing for Justice for Palestine, including sharing ideas, strategies, and lessons learned across Locals & campaigns. To get involved with any of these ongoing efforts, all members are encouraged to join the Region 6 Gender, Human, and Civil Rights Committee (GHCRC), which meets monthly via zoom. 

Member Spotlight: Victoria Piñeiro, UOSW

Victoria Piñeiro holding a UOSW pin that reads "Student Ducks Need More Bucks - Unionize UO"


Hi fellow UAW siblings! I’m Victoria Piñeiro, a third-year undergrad at the University of Oregon, a proud Latina, a student worker, and an organizer for the UO Student Workers Union (UOSW). I am a native Nevadan from Las Vegas, but Eugene has come to feel like a second home for me. On campus, I work at the Student Sustainability Center (SSC) as a Food Equity Lead. At the SSC, I work on programming that educates and helps implement sustainability into the lives of students. Many think of sustainability as strictly an environmental interaction, but my job is to help with sustainability of oneself, specifically through nutrition and food security. This past academic term, I started programming around on-campus cooking classes, a student-led food security coalition, workshops on​​ repurposing food waste, and educating students on how to make their food last. 

Being raised in a union family, I know the importance of a union, so I joined the effort to unionize the undergraduate student workers as soon as I heard about it, and I now serve as the Organizing Co-Chair of UOSW. We as student workers deserve to focus on our studies and not constantly be worried if our paychecks will cover our rent, utilities, or groceries. I am very excited to start organizing around bargaining this month – we are ready to fight for our first contract! 

Message from Region 6 Director Mike Miller

Mike Miller marching in a crowd of other UAW 4811 members, all holding picket signs

This month, Academic Workers at the University of California launched a historic Stand Up Strike in response to unfair labor practices committed by UC in its brutal crackdown on peaceful pro-Palestinian protests. As I said at the UCLA picket line yesterday, collective action is a cornerstone of a democratic society, and has caused often dramatic and sweeping progressive change – whether it’s the labor movement of the 1930s, the civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war movement, the anti-apartheid movement, the list goes on. So if collective action is an expression and cause of democracy, repressing collective action—especially violently, as the UC administration has done repeatedly over the last few weeks—is the negation of democracy, and a profound subversion of the collective bargaining relationship between UC and 48,000 UAW workers and the rights we have historically won.

With this Stand Up Strike, Local 4811 members are taking a brave and historic stand, and are prepared to expand the strike if UC does not remedy their unfair labor practices quickly. And UAW members across the Region are showing up in solidarity – joining UC pickets, organizing rallies on their own campuses, and more. Together, we draw strength from an unwavering commitment to social and economic justice, from the inspiring history of collective actions students and workers have taken to make our workplaces and the world a more just place, and from the Palestinian people, who daily inspire us with their fight against far greater injustices and inequities. One day longer, one day stronger! 

Congratulations to Academic Student Employees at University of Washington and Educational Student Employees at Western Washington University, who each made massive contract wins after impressive campaigns to put the heat on management. And solidarity with members of Local 509’s Senior Aerospace unit, Student Workers at University of Oregon, and Grad Researchers and Postdocs at Caltech, who each kicked off contract campaigns this month. All are already setting the foundations for powerful, participatory campaigns to win historic contracts. Your fellow members across the Region are ready to show up in solidarity with you wherever these fights take you. 

Congrats to Postdocs at USC, who filed for union recognition earlier this month with overwhelming support! You’re helping build a wave of organizing at USC that’s an inspiration to others both at USC and across Region 6.   

Finally, I encourage everyone to join Region 6 Summer School next month at Cal State LA. I look forward to building new skills, strategies, and momentum together, and taking our collective work to even greater heights in the coming months. As always, if you have questions or feedback, please shoot me an email.

In Solidarity,
Mike

Political & Community Action 

  1. At the “Unions Defend Free Speech” press conference in Washington, DC, members of congress (including Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar) and union members from Local 4811, AAUP, and AFT stood together in support of the right to speech and protest on campus. 
  2. Members of Local 4121, Local 4591, and WAWU joined the Washington State Labor Council’s political action convention to build political power for workers’ rights in the coming year. Members shared about the past year of strikes at UW, built support for student worker organizing at WWU, spoke against endorsing electeds who wouldn’t support unemployment insurance for strikers, and more. 

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: June 10 at 6pm via Zoom
  2. Region 6 Climate Justice Committee meeting: June 25 from 6-7pm via zoom
  3. Region 6 Education & Communications Committee meeting: June 14 from 12-1pm via zoom
  4. Region 6 Political Action (CAP/PAC) meeting: June 15 at 10am via zoom
  5. Region 6 Summer School is June 20-23 in Los Angeles. Check out the call letter or contact your Local for more information. 
  6. A number of conferences are upcoming at the UAW Family Education Center in Onaway, Michigan: UAW Employee Assistance Program (EAP) Conference (June 9-14), UAW Young Workers Institute (July 7-12), and UAW Civil and Human Rights Conference (August 25-30). Contact your Local for more information. 
  7. The NAACP Annual Convention is July 13-17 in Las Vegas. Find more info on the conference website, & contact your Local to register. 
  8. The A. Philip Randolph Institute’s National Education Conference is July 15-18 in Hollywood, Florida. Check out https://www.apri.org/ for more information.  
  9. The UAW Women’s & TOP Conference is August 25-30 in Chicago. 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