FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2018
University of Washington Academic Student Employees Overwhelmingly Vote to Authorize a Strike
Union Bargaining Committee is authorized to call a strike if agreement on contract negotiations is not reached
Seattle, WA- By a margin of 2,528-102 (96.1%), University of Washington Academic Student Employees (ASEs) have authorized their bargaining committee to call a strike should circumstances justify. The current contract expires on April 30th and ASEs continue pushing for fair compensation and stronger equity measures.
“Our strike vote sends a very clear message that we are prepared to take action if the University is unwilling to recognize the important contributions research and teaching assistants make. The University Administration is claiming that it has ‘no money’ to help deal with dramatic increases we’ve experienced in cost of living, where over 80% of our membership is rent-burdened (paying more than 30% of income in rent). But this is a $7.2 billion institution, that has spent tens of millions of dollars to fix problems caused by mismanagement. We want a University of Washington that works for us all, not just those at the top,” said Andrea Canini, UAW 4121 Vice President.
Meg Drouhard–UAW 4121 Bargaining Committee Member from the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering–added, “It’s been disillusioning to see the University administration’s real attitude toward us: they don’t actually care that much about our day to day experience. We make proposals about improving campus climate, preventing sexual harassment, and making enough to make ends meet, and they respond with: ‘We don’t have a plan to help.’”
The strike authorization vote comes at a time when top University administrators have maintained that the institution has “no money” to fund a fair contract, but provided no information to substantiate their claim despite numerous requests to do so. A week ago, a top University administrator gave a presentation to over 100 ASEs about the University’s finances, but couldn’t answer most of the questions posed. On Tuesday, over 400 ASEs showed up to hear Provost Jerry Baldasty’s attempt to explain the University’s alleged financial crisis, but came away feeling more resolved that the University was attempting to balance budget deficits on the backs of student workers.
For the past 2 months, UAW Local 4121, the union of Academic Student Employees at the University of Washington, has been in bargaining for a new contract. The elected members of the bargaining committee will be in negotiations with the university every day until the contract expires, in hopes of reaching agreement by the April 30th expiration date.
Learn more at: uaw4121.org