November Newsletter: TA at USC, Leadership & Political Action Conference, & More

November has been another busy month in Region 6, with members across sectors working to build a fighting labor movement! Throughout 2023, more and more workers across the region have recognized the power of a union for securing a real say in their working conditions. And thanks to countless 1-1 organizing conversations, mass meetings, political action, and much more – workers in campaign after campaign are winning decisive union recognition campaigns.

But winning recognition is just the beginning. As more workers organize in Region 6, they’re also launching aggressive, participatory campaigns for first contracts: Research Scientists/Engineers at University of Washington struck for 10 days in June to win a strong first contract. This week, Graduate Student Workers at University of Southern California won a historic tentative agreement after mounting a massive strike threat. Academic Student Employees at Washington State University passed an overwhelming strike authorization vote and continue fighting to win their first contract. And even more workers recently started bargaining first contracts or will soon – Educational Student Employees at Western Washington University, Graduate Fellows at Pardee RAND, and Graduate Workers at University of Alaska.

Regardless of the stage of the campaign – whether it’s a brand new organizing drive or an established Local enforcing long-standing contract language – mass member participation is the key to building power to win. Keep reading for more updates and how you can plug in to ongoing work at every level of the union.

Political Action & Leadership Conference

Graphic for 2024 Region 6 Political Action & Leadership Conference over a photo of a large group of UAW members holding picket signs

The 2024 Political Action & Leadership Conference is coming up on January 12-14 in Pico Rivera, California! We’re in a moment of incredible energy in the labor movement, and in 2023, members of Region 6 have played a vital role in building a renewed labor movement. At the Political Action and Leadership Conference, members will come together across sectors to assess the moment we’re in and set plans for building an even stronger labor movement in 2024. The agenda will include:  

  • Participatory discussions to reflect on our work in 2023 & set priorities for 2024 
  • Discussion of organizing prospects in multiple sectors and how members can plug in, including drives in EVs, batteries, and research. 
  • Political education and power analysis training on topics such as building a worker-led transition to a green economy, advancing social justice and equity, and taking on corporate and institutional greed. 
  • Workshops to develop concrete skills for engaging mass participation and building power through organizing, contract campaigns & enforcement, political action, and more. 

The conference is open to all Region 6 members and workers who are part of organizing campaigns. Check out the call letter for more info, and contact your Local if you’re interested in attending.

Contract Campaigns: USC, WSU, & More!

A line of about 30 USC grad workers marching with “last chance” practice picket signs

  1. Following 46 days of the historic Stand Up Strike, Big 3 autoworkers across Ford, GM, and Stellantis voted to ratify record new contracts this month, with 64% of voting members across all three companies voting yes. 
  2. Graduate Student Workers (GSWs) at University of Southern California won a tentative agreement (TA) on their first contract, which heads to a ratification vote next week. This TA comes after months of organizing & is a direct result of the mass participation of GSWs across USC – in October, more than 70% of GSWs participated in a Strike Authorization Vote, voting 95% to authorize a strike. Graduate Student Workers made over 3,000 calls and hit majority turnout on the first day. 
  3. Academic Student Employees at Washington State University passed a decisive Strike Authorization Vote in their fight for a first contract. With 65% of the unit voting, ASEs voted 93% to authorize a strike if admin doesn’t agree to fair terms. 
  4. And even more Academic Workers across the region just started bargaining first contracts or will soon – including Educational Student Employees at Western Washington University, Graduate Fellows at Pardee RAND, and Graduate Workers at University of Alaska.
  5. At University of Washington, more than 100 Academic Student Employees of Local 4121 came together for a meeting to launch their initial bargaining demands & strategize how to build a strong contract campaign.

Member Spotlight: Joel Benefield, Local 230

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!  

Joel Benefield wearing a UAW Local 230 tshirt.

Hello, Region 6 siblings! My name is Joel Benefield, out of UAW Local 230. I work as a picker on the floor at a parts distribution center in Ontario, CA. My job is to pick and pack the car parts that car dealerships across our region use to maintain all kinds of vehicles. To put it plainly, we keep vehicles across the region running – without pickers like me and my coworkers, no cars would be able to get fixed or maintained. 

Getting involved in our union was a way for me to find a sense of purpose, and I’m especially passionate about getting the younger crowd in my workplace and the auto sector involved and engaged in the labor movement! As the Sergeant-At-Arms of my Local, I help maintain order during union meetings to facilitate productive discussions, and I’m also helping develop membership education opportunities to engage members at my Local and across our Region on the history of organized labor & the UAW. 

For next month’s newsletter, I’m handing off the spotlight to Bia Cáffe from the Washington State University - Coalition of Academic Student Employees (WSU-CASE) campaign!

Contract Enforcement

Thanks to mass participation contract campaigns, members in Region 6 are winning standard-setting contracts, but we also know our contracts don’t enforce themselves. Through concerted contract enforcement campaigns, we can not only ensure that the rights we’ve expressly won are upheld—we can expand those rights. Check out a few examples of recent contract enforcement wins: 

At University of California: 

  • Public transit: UAW 2865 and UAW 5810 members have won a pathway to unlimited, free public transit for all UAW academic workers at work sites in the Bay Area. 
  • Stopping wage theft: Over 1000 Postdocs and ARs won back pay totaling more than $500,000 for April 1 and July 1 raises that the university failed to implement on time, and collectively won thousands of dollars more in additional compensation for damages due to wage theft.
  • Stopping abusive conduct: Two Postdocs at UC Riverside have received departmental funding to move to new labs after winning a grievance over abusive conduct.
  • Step advancement: 47 Junior Specialists at UC Davis have won overdue promotions and back pay; collectively they are receiving $120,000.
  • Misclassification: Several Postdocs at UCLA who were misclassified into Visiting Scholar titles are being reclassified at Postdocs and are provided back pay; in one case a Postdoc is receiving nearly $20,000.

And at University of Washington: 

  • Surveillance of workers: A supervisor was monitoring employees in their workplace without consent through video and audio recordings. By filing a grievance, the affected workers secured remedies that included the removal of all recording devices, deletion of all recorded materials, and mechanisms to enforce expectations around professional and respectful behavior to the supervisor.
  • Salary increase mistakes: Following ratification of their first contract earlier this year, Research Scientists/Engineers are organizing to ensure the salary increases they won are implemented correctly. 

Have a contract enforcement win from your Local to highlight in a future newsletter? Email [email protected].

Message from Region 6 Director Mike Miller

Congratulations to grad workers at USC for reaching a tentative agreement on a historic first contract! USC has been avoiding accountability for far too long, and thanks to your solidarity and mass collective action, you’ve achieved an amazing tentative agreement. I encourage all grad workers at USC to actively participate in discussing, considering, and voting on the TA next week. 

Congratulations also to Big 3 auto workers who ratified historic new contracts this month. Because of the active participation and solidarity of UAW members in Region 6 and across the country, these new contracts include record wages to match the record profits UAW members have produced over the last 2 decades. Almost immediately, non-union auto companies like Toyota, Honda and Hyundai also announced pay increases for their workers. For the first time in 20 years, auto workers’ wages are on the rise – and it’s all because of the collective action of auto workers. To win even stronger contracts in the future, it will take a massive organizing effort by auto workers across the industry to form unions. UAW members in Region 6 are ready to actively support our future UAW siblings in this fight. 

WSU academic student employees also passed an overwhelming strike authorization vote should circumstances warrant in their fight for a fair first contract. Your UAW siblings across Region 6 will support you in this fight until management agrees to the contract you deserve.

Last, I look forward to meeting with many of you at the Region 6 Political Action & Leadership Conference on January 12-14, and working together to set plans for growing a more and more powerful labor movement in 2024. 

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


Political & Community Action

5 UAW 4121 members posed for a photo with Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales, holding signs for her re-election campaign

  1. In Washington, UAW 4121 members canvassed to help Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales squeak through re-election in a nailbiter of a race, and one of the only city council races where a progressive candidate was successful. The other candidate UAW 4121 members canvassed to support, Teresa Mosequeda, squarely won her election to King County Council. 
  2. Sub-regional working groups are actively developing 2024 political action plans. Join the next monthly Regional 6 CAP/PAC (Political Action) Meeting to plug in – Saturday, December 16 at 10am via zoom. 

Upcoming Events & Conferences

  1. The 2024 Region 6 Political Action and Leadership Conference will be January 12-14 in Pico Rivera, California. All members are welcome! For more information, check out the call letter, and get in touch with your Local if you’re interested in attending. 
  2. The next meeting of the Region 6 Gender Justice & Civil Human Rights Committee will be December 11 at 6pm via Zoom. Check out the calendar event for more info and to join.  
  3. The Region 6 Education & Communications Committee meets on the 3rd Friday of each month at 12pm via Zoom. Check out the calendar event for more info & to join. 
  4. The next monthly Region 6 CAP/PAC (Political Action) meeting is Saturday, December 16 at 10am via zoom. For more info and to join, check out the calendar event
  5. The AFL-CIO’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference is January 12-14, 2024, in Montgomery, Alabama. Contact your Local if you’re interested in attending.
  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]

The ECC is dedicated to increasing member participation throughout Region 6 with education and communications work aimed at building members’ skills, increasing transparency, and advancing ongoing organizing efforts – at both the regional and local levels. 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, Threads (@uawregion6), and our website.