I stand in solidarity with UAW 4121 postdocs who are being denied healthcare by the UW administration

Friday October 2, 2020

Ana Mari Cauce, President

University of Washington

Dear President Cauce:

I am shocked to learn that the University of Washington, which prides itself on being a leading international institution and a model community employer, would deny any of its workers health benefits. This is especially true during the global pandemic.

I have learned that the UW is refusing to provide health coverage to its postdocs, who bring in outside funding to cover their salaries. My understanding is that there are at least a few dozen of these postdocs – disproportionately international – in this situation. You already recognize these workers as UW employees under the contract with their union, UAW 4121. They work in UW facilities and are supervised by UW faculty. The UW builds its reputation and stature based in part on the groundbreaking research and stellar teaching that these postdocs provide. 

And yet, your administration is now claiming that these UW employees are not actually employees because they are receiving salaries from outside entities, who in fact are paying them to do work at the university.

This attempt by your administration to evade responsibility towards basic living standards for your workers would be unacceptable at any time, but is especially outrageous in the context of the pandemic and the worst recession since the Great Depression.

My Council office, along with Socialist Alternative, the political organization I belong to, stand in complete solidarity with the UAW 4121 members, and with all UW workers who are being denied healthcare by the university. I call on you to immediately reverse course, and provide health benefits to all of your postdocs, without discrimination. 


Kshama Sawant

Seattle City Councilmember

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