Earlier this academic year, President Ana Mari Cauce announced that UW Seattle workers – including student workers – would receive a minimum wage increase to $13/hour in 2016 and $15/hour in 2017. UW Bothell quickly followed, committing to pay the same minimum wage as Seattle. This was a historic victory, following from more than a year of coalition action to increase the minimum wage for allworkers, not just union members. We reiterated this demand in coalition with campus unions earlier this Fall.
UW Tacoma Chancellor Mark Pagano has refused to agree to the same increase for Tacoma student workers. While our collective bargaining agreement protects Tutors, Research/Teaching Assistants and other Academic Student Employees working in Tacoma, those student workers classified in other job titles will not receive the same increase, despite doing the same jobs as their counterparts in Seattle and Bothell.
Chancellor Pagano has cited different “market conditions” and costs of living in Tacoma to explain his refusal. However he is not mentioning that the single biggest driver to living costs for students – tuition and campus fees – are higher for Tacoma students than for UW Seattle or Bothell students! He also (falsely) cites that students did not “want” a minimum wage increase, and asserts that it would lead to tuition increases and job loss. But again, last year’s Student Activities Fee Committee in Seattle helped show that the SAF fee could fund this year’s minimum wage increase by increasing only $1 per quarter.
On Monday (11/30) a delegation of Tacoma students delivered an open letter to the Chancellor’s Office, signed by student workers from nearly every hiring unit on campus. They demanded that Tacoma pay the same minimum wage as the rest of the UW system.
Now they have started a petition, and are seeking support from the broader community. They point out that this policy not only fosters inequity among UW campuses, but also disproportionately affects students of color and others who face challenges created by structures of race/gender/class discrimination.
Please take a moment now to sign on to support this campaign! We all belong to one university and we are all affected when UW seeks to apply different standards to different campuses. One minimum wage for everyone, everywhere.