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Student employees seek equity as negotiations open with UW

The following is from UAW 4121:

SEATTLE (Feb. 8, 2018) — This afternoon, Academic Student Employees (ASEs) at the University of Washington are presenting contract demands — ratified by more than 2,500 Teaching Assistants (TAs), Research Assistants (RAs), graders, tutors and readers — to the University of Washington administration.  The demands, based on more than 2,200 bargaining surveys, recognize the robust connections between the equitable treatment of ASEs and the advancement of UW’s broader mission as a center for research, education, and public service.

“Over the past seven contracts, we have developed a productive collective bargaining relationship with UW. However, we are impatient with the continual intractability and inertia we have witnessed time and again — on issues of harassment, discrimination, and more,” said Sam Sumpter, UAW 4121 Financial Secretary. “These very serious issues are inimical to an institution premised on a free exchange of ideas, and we are fully committed to fighting for a university that upholds its inclusive values through concrete action.”

The demands call for improving ASE compensation and standards of living, increasing inclusivity, accessibility, and equity, improving family-friendly benefits, improving academic quality, improving security of ASE positions, improving ASE health care, expanding union orientations for new ASEs, and maintaining rights, pay, and benefits of the existing contract not addressed above.

“Eighty-two percent of ASEs are rent burdened and are struggling to make ends meet,” said Monica Cortes Viharo, UAW 4121 Sergeant-At-Arms. “UW needs to provide ASEs with a living wage and create more ASE positions to support and improve the university’s teaching, research, and mentorship mission.”

UAW Local 4121 represents 4,500 TAs, RAs, Readers, Graders, and Tutors at UW. This bargaining session is the first of many to occur over the next three months. The UAW Local 4121 / University of Washington collective bargaining agreement expires on April 30. Thousands of ASEs at UW have benefited from the CBA since the first contract in 2004.

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