Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fall 2011 Grading Party

At the end of each academic quarter, For a Democratic University initiates
a Grade-In at Suzzallo Espresso. Whether you have participated in the past
or not, join with other grad student workers from* 12PM - 5PM at Suzzallo
on Wednesday, December 14 and Thursday, December 15 *to grade, read, write,
work on research and to show your solidarity with other workers on campus.

Why do we do this? As workers at UW, our labor is our power. The
contributions we make alongside students, faculty and staff around us are
easily discredited and made invisible when we work alone, hunkered down and
isolated at our own desks. At the Grade-In, however, we engage a public
space and quietly demonstrate to those around us that there is a politics
at our workplace.

We will also be discussing possibilities for bringing Occupy to UW in
winter quarter.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Save the Date!

For a Democratic University, supporters, and students we met at Westlake during the October 11 student walkout to Occupy Seattle. Click the image to enlarge.

Save the dates for two of our upcoming FADU events! Our next happy hour will be December 6 at 5 pm at Big Time. Our quarterly grade-in was Wednesday and Thursday of finals week (December 14 and 15).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November Happy Hour

Hello supporters/colleagues of FaDU,

Thanks a lot to those of you who attended our Happy Hour last month at Solstice. It was good to share some reflections of the new school year potential projects in 2011-2012. October found many of us wrapped up in this wonderful, galvanizing Occupy Seattle movement, and we suspect this grabbed your attention, too.

Now we are ready to move forward on these UW writing center plans. We want to craft next steps and goals on the writing center campaign with you. We also want to see if you have you been able to do some research on how funding has changed at UW for the writing centers.

But whether or not you've done so, please join us Tuesday the 8th at Big Time (on the Ave), beginning at 5PM (this remains an all ages venue until 8PM). We know some classes are getting out just after 5PM, but you're welcome to come late. If you know that someone else is passionate about this issue, bring them, too. Come out, grab some pizza or frites to go with that pint glass, and help us plan some practical, radical politics!

In solidarity,


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall 2011 Happy Hour

For a Democracy University is holding our first happy hour of the school year on Thursday, October 6, at 4:30 at Cafe Solstice at 4116 University Way. Join us to talk about labor on campus, meet other grad students, and talk about what you'd like to see in a campaign for this school year. Cafe Solstice is all ages, and serves coffee/tea as well as beer/wine. Children are welcome.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Open Letter to UAW 4121 Regarding the Proposed Expiration Date

Below is the text of a letter FADU has sent to the UAW 4121 Executive Board. We want to share it with you in order to continue broad engagement with matters affecting graduate student workers. The letter calls on the EBoard to reply in writing to these concerns. We also plan to bring this issue to the UAW Membership Meeting on Tuesday (5/31 at 3:30 in Foege N130), and hope you will be able to attend with your own clarifying questions as we near the end of the quarter.
Please forgive cross postings as we share this document widely--and do join us in sharing this with all ASEs


May 28, 2011

Open Letter to the UAW 4121 Executive Board/BargainingTeam

To the UAW 4121 Executive Board,

As the spring quarter draws to a close and bargaining with the University of Washington enters the fourth week after the April 30 contract expiration, we write with regards to the ongoing negotiations. While the bargaining updates of May 20th, May 6th, and May 4th all indicate ongoing conversations about two of the major issues on the table (fee waivers and health care coverage), a third bargaining item proposed in the update sent on April 30th has not been mentioned since: a one year contract “which would expire June 30, 2011” [sic]. We write with concern for the third item, to call attention to it and to elicit explanation from the Bargaining Team.

Our first question: is the proposed end date June 30, 2011 or June 30, 2012?

Assuming the latter, there are two concerns we call on the UAW Bargaining Team to address. The first is the decision to enter into a second one-year contract. Last year UAW Local 4121 concluded a three-year contract and the membership voted to ratify the one year contract we are now concluding. We, members of UAW 4121 and of FADU, reiterate our concern that another one-year contract will make us vulnerable to yet another year of possible takeaways and harsh cutbacks. How does this short-term contract provide protection to ASE workers and strengthen our union?

Our second concern is the proposed contract expiration date of June 30th. Such a late expiration date would move the bargaining process to a time when the majority of ASEs have concluded their contractual obligations for the year. With the majority of ASEs off-campus, neither leading sections and classes, nor grading papers, nor conducting research, our power to unite and fight as workers will be limited. Resources for visible and vocal support of UAW bargaining will be eliminated. The possibility of a strike will be removed. What benefits outweigh the destruction of our two greatest strengths: our voice and our labor?

A third question this issue raises is pertinent to both this year and next: what is the procedure for the contract ratification vote if negotiations proceed into the summer? The fourth contract extension has expired, a fifth has been established. With only one week and finals left in the quarter, we request information concerning how the E-Board proposes to present a contract to rank-and-file for ratification. What will the procedure be in future years if the June 30th expiration date is ratified? According to the UAW International Constitution, it is the responsibility of the Bargaining Team to present the proposed contract to the vote of Local Union Membership. The local bylaws prohibit regular membership meetings from June 16th through September 15th and also require the Bargaining Team to present the final contract to the membership for ratification (Article 19, Section 3). Though the Executive Board retains the power of highest authority between membership meetings, matters concerning the vital interests of the Local Union are subject to the approval of the membership (Article 7, Section 2). By what procedure does the UAW Executive Board propose to fulfill these obligations, present the contract to rank-and-file members for approval, and enter into negotiations with the full strength of membership available to support the process of bargaining for a fair contract?

We call on the UAW Executive Board to respond by email to the membership to address the concerns raised by what appears to be a minor change in dates, but is in fact a serious threat to the strength of our union.

In Solidarity,

For A Democratic University

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

UPDATE: AWDU victory after vote count resumes at UC!

After a contentious struggle to get every vote counted in the UAW elections at University of California, counting resumed on May 5th after the votes had been abandoned by the elections committee five days earlier. Voter turnout for this election was exponentially higher than previous years, and as predicted, the AWDU reform slate was proven victorious after the rest of the ballots were counted and certified!

From the AWDU blog:

"We are excited to announce that our votes have finally been counted and our reform slate has won nearly 60% of positions on our UAW 2865 union Joint Council! The 80-member Joint Council is the highest elected body of our union with representatives from every campus.

55% of voters also cast their ballots for our Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU) reform slate for the UAW 2865 Executive Board – electing our candidates to all 10 positions on the Board, including President. The Elections Committee has certified these election results as true and fair. You can see the full results here."

For more information about the election struggle and the UAW 2865 contract, visit AWDU's blog or click here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Stolen UAW Leadership Elections at the UC -- show your support for democratic elections!

Last week, the UAW Local 2865 – representing 12,000 Academic Student Employees at the University of California – held elections for top union leadership positions. Challenging the incumbents were a reform slate of candidates from Academic Workers for a Democratic Union (AWDU). Here’s an overview of the chain of events that ended with an undemocratic stolen election.

  • Tuesday, April 26: Voting begins.
  • Thursday, April 28: Voting ends.
  • Friday, April 29: All ballot boxes are taken to UCLA to be counted, despite challenges to the procedures.
  • Saturday, April 30: Halfway through counting votes – when it seems possible that AWDU can win the elections – the chair of the Elections Committee, Travis Knowles of UCSD, declares the election “partially certified” and stops the count! This means more than 1500 votes from UC Berkeley and UCLA (nearly half the ballots cast) are not counted when the election is called and the Elections Committee abandons the ballots. All challenges will not be considered until July.

Rallies and sit-ins are taking place in Berkeley and beyond, but you can still help from Seattle by emailing the following people and telling them you think that ALL BALLOTS should be counted and democracy maintained:

President, Daraka Larimore-Hall

Vice President, Jorge Cabrera

Financial Secretary, Donna Fenton

Elections Committee Chair, Travis Knowles

Director for Region 5, Jim Wells

You can also sign AWDU's electronic petition here:

Help our peers in California put a stop business-as-usual at the UAW until they COUNT ALL THE VOTES.

For more information about problems with this election and the response from AWDU and their supporters, check out the following links:

-For a Democratic University

Monday, April 25, 2011

Upcoming Events

Wednesday April 27th
  • 3:30 PM UAW membership meeting in Bagley 154, to be followed by a UAW action (more details to come from UAW)
  • 7-9 PM Caring Labor event sponsored by the Bridges Center. "Young, Disparaged and Paid in Smiles: Experiences in the Caring Labor Industry," Room 305AM, UW School of Social Work, 4101 15th Ave NE.
    More info:
Friday April 29th
  • 11-11:30 AM Come picket in the Quad with FaDU and teaching and research assistants at UW who are fighting for a fair labor contract. The current contract for "academic student employees" expires April 30, but negotiations are likely to extend into the summer.
Sunday May 1st
  • NOON International Worker's day march for immigrants' and workers' rights. Meet at noon at Judkins Playfield, 611 20th Ave S, Seattle
  • Meet up with FaDU at the march to join us for a BBQ afterwards

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Quarter Happy Hour

Join us for

Happy Hour!

Thursday, April 21st 5:00pm

Café Solstice (all ages)

4116 University Way NE

Join us to discuss upcoming struggles and issues:

  • organizing around childcare for all students and campus workers;

  • UAW’s ongoing contract negotiations

  • May Day: International Workers’ Day

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why Do TAs & RAs Want Open Bargaining?

Fellow Rank and File Members of UAW 4121,

As you know, our labor union is about to begin negotiating a new contract between graduate student workers and University of Washington management. This will replace the one-year contract that our executive board negotiated with management last spring. At that time, management brought many frightening takeaways to the bargaining table, including cutting up to 440 teaching assistant quarters, the closure of writing and tutoring centers, the imposition of health care premiums, and loss of lay-off protection. Not knowing what was happening in bargaining for several months only added to the fear and doubt that many of us felt. As rank and file members, we want to be actively engaged in the bargaining process to ensure that UW acknowledges our value and power as workers, and therefore we wish to attend bargaining between UAW and UW this time around.

What is open bargaining?
Open bargaining occurs when rank and file members are permitted to attend contract negotiation meetings. We are not advocating that bargaining be open to the general public. Members do not engage in negotiation, but actively observe. Open bargaining promotes democracy in the union because it is a transparent way for members to engage in bargaining.

Is open bargaining common union practice?
SEIU 925, which represents about 4000 office and technical workers at UW, practices open bargaining. WFSE 1488, the third union on campus, does not, although they do ensure that their bargaining team contains representation from every sector in their union local, and they provide detailed updates on the state of bargaining.* UAW 4121 has the distinction of having the least transparent bargaining process at University of Washington.

Wouldn’t open bargaining mean that we need to fill the room every time or risk looking weak to management?
Open bargaining is just one tactic among many to assert our power as workers. We can strategically attend bargaining at key moments in negotiation. Last year rank and file graduate student workers organized numerous pickets, rallies, and other events comprising between 20 and 100 other ASEs. Such mobilizations, employed at strategic times, would give us more power in negotiations. Establishing open bargaining is in itself a way to show UW the commitment of the rank and file to negotiating a fair contract.

Won’t open bargaining make UW management angry and unwilling to negotiate?
Management is required to bargain in good faith, though they don’t always do this. During the 2010 contract negotiations, UW repeatedly walked out on closed bargaining meetings. Open bargaining would hold management accountable to us so that they would be more pressured to bargain in good faith.

We are the union.
Join us at our bargaining goals ratification meeting on February 17 to vote yes on open bargaining.

For a Democratic University
English Grads for Public Education

*Here are examples from WFSE 1488 and UAW 4121 bargaining updates late in contract negotiations


UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON. The UW Bargaining Team met in another mediation session Wednesday (Feb. 2). The team spent the day seeking clarifications and trying to work up some new ideas to move things forward. They reminded management that this was the second time they had failed to address the transfer proposal we included in Article 42 (Appointments and Positions).

For their part management DID agree to go back to our current language on both overtime and FMLA-this is not a major movement, but does reduce the number of items on the table.

On some major issues: management still seems to have no appetite for seniority as the deciding factor on rehires/transfers; no major movement on improvements to removal of records, corrective action, or the grievance procedure article; the UW team made it clear that we would take no action regarding either contracting out OR the layoff article pending the PERC finding of fact from our PREVIOUS negotiations.

An additional mediation session is slated for March.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES COALITION. The Community College Coalition Bargaining Team wraps up three days of negotiations Feb. 4.


The information meetings on the General Government tentative contract agreement started Monday and continue until mail ballots are due Feb. 11. These meetings also give General Government members the option of dropping off ballots in person if they don’t want to drop it in the mail.

The complete list of contract information meetings is online at and in the special 40-page newspaper on the contract that General Government members received in the mail.

UAW 4121 Bargaining Update


Yesterday we met with the University and the mediator and began a discussion of a comprehensive settlement package. The discussion was not concluded, and we formally extended the contract until June 1st, 2010.

As the end of the quarter approaches we will continue communicating with members individually about next steps. Please contact us at or 206.633.6080 if you have specific questions. As a reminder we will be having a membership meeting on Friday (May 28th) at 5:30 pm in Loew 102.

Thanks as always for your continued support during these negotiations. For updates and more information about bargaining you can always go to our website:

In solidarity,

UAW 4121 Bargaining Committee

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Childcare Forum

Childcare Forum
Monday, February 14th, 3:30pm
Savery 157

Here are just some of the things that student-parents at UW have to say about the childcare provisions for students and workers at UW:
  • Childcare is the big constraint, which determines how you will spend your time and resources
  • I worry about being perceived as not serious about school, I don’t want to use having a child as an excuse not to do stuff. I am always very conscious of this...
  • The University isn’t structured to accommodate parents, or really any people who have any obligations outside of school. Faculty don’t think that students are going home to families or caring for their own parents or other relatives…

Join For A Democratic University (FaDU) on Monday, February 14th to share your experiences as a student-parent, learn about what it's like to be a student-parent at UW, and strategize with other university students and workers about how to demand improvements to childcare at UW.
There will be food! Children are welcome!