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UW student employees will protest Friday amid strike vote

UAW-4121SEATTLE (April 16, 2015) — More than 4,000 Academic Student Employees (ASEs) at the University of Washington started voting Monday on whether to authorize their union bargaining committee to call a strike if circumstances warrant. On Friday, April 17, the day fees and tuition are due, union members will stage a protest at Schmitz Hall on the UW Seattle campus to protest the university’s requirement that part of their wages get repaid in the form of student fees.

“The fact that the people that pay us then turn around and demand back nearly a full paycheck every year in mandatory fees is ridiculous,” says Anthony Castanza, Research Assistant in the UW School of Medicine. “No other employees have to do this. Then when they propose increasing the amount we’re forced to pay back even further, we’re taking a pay cut.”

Hundreds of ASEs and supporters are expected to surround Schmitz Hall with picket signs at 2 p.m. on Friday.

“Our members are agitated, frustrated, and impatient,” says Liz Mills, UAW 4121 Bargaining Committee member and Research Assistant in The Information School. “We’ve held several recent demonstrations that have been successful in creating changes at the university. We’ve pressed to improve instructional quality, and made progress on minimum wage with coalition partners on campus. Now we’re ready to take further action.”

Academic Student Employees provide more than one-half of the instructional contact hours with undergraduates — and work more than 1.4 million hours per year — while also conducting much of the research that enables UW to bring more than $1.5 billion per year in grants and contracts.

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