Seattle DSA stands in solidarity with UAW 4121 workers in the Postdoctoral Researcher and Research Scientists/Engineer units, who are considering going on strike in their fight for fair contracts at the University of Washington. Throughout the bargaining process, University Administration has continued to stall and employ union-busting tactics. A majority of Research Scientists/Engineers declared their desire to unionize over a year ago, but still have yet to win a contract. Additionally, University Admin recently reclassified hundreds of employees and required them to begin tracking their hours in order to avoid the state-mandated pay raise that would have kicked in at the beginning of the year. Tracking hours severely disrupts their work.
In response to these egregious tactics, workers have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. Out of 959 ballots cast by the RSE unit, 879 voted YES; for the Postdoc unit, 401 ballots were cast, with 386 voting YES.
The labor of academic workers is essential to the functioning of the university and forms the foundation of academic research, driving progress in countless fields. Yet these workers are exploited: underpaid, overworked, and undervalued. Workers have a right to fair wages, benefits, and decent working conditions, and we know that collective bargaining and striking are the most powerful tools the working class has for achieving these goals.
It is encouraging to witness an upsurge in workers fighting back against oppression from the capitalist class in the United States and internationally. Regardless of the industry, workers in this country are dealing with fallout from the pandemic, wages falling behind the cost of living, decreasing job security, and a lack of paid family leave or universal healthcare. Amid these worsening conditions, workers are recognizing the necessity to organize.
We know that the fight for workers’ dignity is not an easy one: the bosses will make gains as difficult to win as possible, especially as universities increasingly mimic the union-busting strategies of private corporations. Case in point: at the end of January, 750 graduate student workers at Temple University began a strike, and the university quickly retaliated by revoking tuition waivers and healthcare.
In the last year, over 25,000 academic workers across 25 different campuses voted by resounding margins to organize new unions. At the end of 2022, we saw 48,000 academic workers, an historic number, striking for six weeks at the University of California—winning wage gains, increases in parental and medical leave, childcare subsidies, and beyond.
To win these fights, solidarity among the working class is essential. UAW 4121 workers, Seattle DSA stands in solidarity with you in your fight for a fair contract. When you go on strike, our members will be there on the picket lines with you.