UA can give us a fair contract any time, and not force graduate workers to feel we have to choose between our passion for our work and fair working conditions.

After UA’s recent decision to cancel a week of bargaining, we will hold a strike authorization vote (SAV) and, if we need to, call for a strike. None of us want to stop doing the teaching and research work we are passionate about, but if the University continues to delay bargaining and make inadequate proposals, we will have no choice. 

Strike Authorization Vote (SAV)

The SAV is exactly what it sounds like! A vote by unit members that authorizes the Bargaining Committee to set a strike date. A 2/3 majority vote in favor is needed. As always, the higher the vote participation and the greater a majority vote in favor, the clearer it is to the University where we stand and what they would need to do to avoid a strike.

Voting open March 26-29. Unit members will be provided a secure link to cast their ballots. 

Strike FAQs

What is a strike?

A strike is a collective action where we withhold our labor. This puts pressure on the university to bargain in good faith to move quickly toward a contract that our unit members will ratify.

What is a Strike Authorization Vote (SAV)?

A SAV is an important step in escalating toward a possible strike by ensuring that there is substantial support and a democratic process for making such a decision.

Grad workers vote anonymously over a period of time using a unique link provided by AGWA-UAW. If ⅔ of voting grad workers vote “Yes,” the bargaining committee has authorization to call for a strike. 

Just because grad workers pass the SAV does not mean we will go on strike! The vote itself might be enough to get the university to move on core bargaining issues.

If I vote yes, will I be required to strike/participate in the picket line?

A “yes” vote on the SAV does not require you to participate actively in the strike. 

However, a strike will only be successful with mass participation. The more united we are the more we can win! 

Is it legal for us to go on strike?

In Alaska, strikes are legal for most public sector employees.  We anticipate that UA will try to falsely communicate that striking is "illegal" to try and intimidate and divide us.

But like grad workers in other states, our power and protection doesn't really come from the law as much as it does from each other.  Any action we take must involve substantial majorities to be effective!

Can I strike as an international student?

Yes! You have all the same rights to strike as domestic students. 

International students have access to the same strike benefits as domestic students. 

I'm worried this will hurt my relationship with my advisor/supervisor.

This is a common concern, but here are a few considerations and strategies:

What work do I stop doing during a strike?

You should stop doing any and all work that you are paid to do by UA. 

For TAs, this includes teaching, tutoring, grading, responding to student emails, updating online learning platforms, holding office hours, etc.

For RAs and Fellows, this includes reports and presentations, running samples (especially those not related to your thesis), preparing materials and equipment, attending lab/PI meetings, and more. It is essential to stop all work that does not primarily benefit your thesis, and if possible to stop doing all research-related work (see the following question for more information about thesis work).

For other grad student employees, this includes all paid work. If you have questions about what this might mean for your situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to organize(dot)agwa@gmail(dot)com or even better, attend a department meeting about a SAV.

What about my [insert specific situation here] work? Do I need to strike that!?!

In general, you should strike any and all work. But, if not doing something right now would cause a catastrophic failure of your thesis, then you can still do it. If you can still do something that acknowledges the strike or causes disruption, you should try to do that! Some examples are:

If you have work that you are not sure how to address during a strike you can:

What about school work?

You should continue doing classwork and making academic progress as before. 

For RAs, since our thesis work is often inseparable from our paid work, this can be difficult to navigate. The default should be that you do not do thesis work or any other work that is 'for' the university in some way. If not doing your thesis work at that specific time would create a catastrophe for your academic career/progress, then you should complete the essential work (see the previous question for more specifics about what this might mean). If there is a strike, a strike date will be announced in advance–and as much as possible, you should complete any time-sensitive work for your thesis ahead of the strike date.

Remember, UA can give us a fair contract any time, and not force graduate workers to feel we have to choose between our passion for our work and fair working conditions!

Are TAs making the most impact during this strike?

No, though TAs do make a large impact. It will be critical that everyone participate in a strike! 

Given that a majority of our unit are RAs–whose paid work impacts UA’s research output–it is essential for our strike’s power that all unit members go on strike. As TAs and RAs are both essential to the university’s function, they both have an impact during a strike. 

Will this strike hurt my students?

Yes, but the university uses the “nobility” of teaching/research as a justification to underpay us and devalue our labor. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions! When TAs cannot afford adequate housing, food, or decent healthcare, they cannot be effective instructors in the classroom. Students will benefit from the university granting graduate workers a fair and equitable contract. 

We encourage you to let your students know ahead of time that a strike may be coming and that it doesn't need to if the university agrees to a fair contract. 

What if UA stops paying us? 

The university can choose to not pay us if we decide to strike, especially if the strike lasts a long time. UAW’s Strike and Defense Fund is $500/week after the 8th day of the strike, which is more than what many of us are paid by UA! UAW can also cover health and other benefits if these are withheld by the university. We may also choose to do additional fundraising to help support a strike!

How do I help make the strike successful?