May 15, 2018


Academic Student Employees at University of Washington Go on Strike

ASEs head to the picket lines after months of bargaining and a 96.1% strike authorization vote

Seattle, WA- Academic Student Employees represented by UAW Local 4121, the union of 4,500 Research and Teaching Assistants at the University of Washington, went on strike this morning after members voted 2,528-102 (96.1%) to authorize the union’s bargaining committee to call a strike should circumstances justify. Local 4121’s bargaining committee has been in negotiations with the UW Administration since February in an effort to secure greater equity and a fair contract.

Strike hours will be from 5am to 4pm, with concentrated picketing at every major entrance to Seattle campus and various other locations in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma. The strike will last one day, with plans to continue escalating until an agreement is reached. Press is welcome to attend.

“Equity is not optional. We love UW but it also needs to be held up to the ideals it consistently advertises. It’s a shame the UW Administration won’t work with us on the commonsense proposals we’ve put forward. We want to help make UW an even greater place to learn and work, but for that, we need to be heard and included in making UW safe and inclusive.  A cooperative effort ensures all of us can thrive, regardless of our gender identity, race or country of origin,” said Andre Perkins, graduate student in the Atmospheric Sciences department.

“We are heading to the picket lines for a fair contract, and for fair pay in a region with skyrocketing costs. UW is a $7.2 billion institution, and we are fighting for fair compensation that allows not just the independently wealthy to go to grad school and contribute to the ideas and experiences that make UW a world-class institution,” said Kaelie Giffel, graduate student in the English department.

After more than two months in bargaining, Academic Student Employees (ASEs) and the University Administration were unable to reach agreement on compensation (including a waiver of student fees), trans-inclusive health insurance, and improvements to mental health coverage by April 30 when the contract was set to expire. Negotiations have continued since April 30, but ASEs and the University were still unable to reach agreement after bargaining on May 14.


ASEs voted 96.1% to authorize a strike after top University administrators have maintained that the institution has “no money” to fund a fair contract, but provided little information to substantiate their claim despite numerous requests to do so. UAW Local 4121, the union of Academic Student Employees at the University of Washington, has been in bargaining for a new contract since February.

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