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$15/hour coalition at UW scores major victory

SEATTLE (Sept. 29, 2015) — Following a coalition demand by campus unions and student leaders, the University of Washington announced Monday that it would raise wages for all employees — including student workers — to $13/hour on January 1, 2016, and $15/hour January 1, 2017.

UW-UAW-4121-protest-15Apr17While UW had first communicated that the increase would only apply to certain employees, the coalition — which included UAW Local 4121, WFSE 1488, SEIU 925, AFT 6488 and the UW Student Senate — met with UW on Sept. 18 to demand an increase for everyone. Monday’s news follows more than a year of advocacy.

“The goal of the minimum wage campaign has always been to raise standards for everyone,” says David Parsons, President of UAW Local 4121. “Our unions all helped push for a $15/hour minimum wage, and weren’t about to let it be applied selectively on campus. While we still have work to do, we’re very pleased to see UW take this step.”

Student workers have long faced uncertainty as to whether UW would follow the Seattle ordinance. UAW Local 4121, which represents more than 4,000 student workers, had demanded the minimum wage increase for its members in December 2014 as part of its collective bargaining demands, then took the unusual step in March 2015 of demanding that all student workers get the increase after UW balked at agreeing to full implementation.

15-Seattle-council-vote-balloonsAt the same time student government leaders resolved support for full implementation of the minimum wage and the student-led Services and Activities Fee Committee budgeted to follow the Seattle schedule for students paid by fees. Moreover union and student groups uniting under the banner “Reclaim UW” took action to push for the ordinance to be applied to all workers.

In September, UW contacted campus unions individually to discuss minimum wage plans. Instead making demands as a coalition of unions in solidarity with non-union student workers set the stage for Monday’s announcement.

While the university’s plans incorporate aspects of the coalition demand it leaves unanswered questions about Bothell and Tacoma campuses, among other issues.

Here is KING TV coverage of Monday’s announcement:


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