UW Libraries Union/SEIU 925 says UW administrators have dragged out contract negotiations for more than a year
UPDATE (Oct. 13, 2022) — Employees at the University of Washington Libraries and Press did not report to work this morning as part of a one-day strike. Employees of the University of Washington Libraries and Press formed a union in June 2021. They have been negotiating with the University for a first contract ever since. Many work second or third jobs, haven’t seen a wage increase since before the pandemic, and feel they have reached a breaking point.
“When I chose librarianship as a profession, I never envisioned becoming wealthy,” said Jason Sokoloff, Head of the UW Foster Business Library and union bargaining team member. “But I did expect a sound career path that would afford me the chance to actually save for retirement instead of working until I die at my desk.”
Instead of staffing the Libraries and Press, employees will picket and march around the UW’s main campus in Seattle:
- 10:20 a.m. — Strike opening remarks on steps of Suzzallo Library
- 11 a.m. — March and picket around Odegaard Library
- Noon — Main rally on the steps of Suzzallo Library
- 1 p.m. — March to Gerberding Hall to deliver strike petition to UW President Cauce
- 1:45 p.m. — Silent march through Suzzallo Library
- 2 p.m. — March from Engineering Library to UW Medical Center
- 3 p.m. — March to Health Sciences Library
- 4 p.m. — March to Foster Business Library
- 4:30 p.m. — Picketing outside PACCAR Hall
Representatives from the Washington State Labor Council, Starbucks Workers United, UW Research Scientists Union, and labor organizations from around King County will speak at the noon rally, along with several elected officials.
UPDATE (Oct. 12, 2022 – 2 p.m.) — Employees at the University of Washington Libraries and Press voted by 97.1% to go on a one-day strike. The strike will take place on Thursday, October 13.
SEATTLE (Oct. 12, 2022) — An overwhelming majority of workers represented by the UW Libraries Union/SEIU 925 voted on Tuesday to strike across the University of Washington’s three campuses on an undisclosed date. “Stay tuned,” the union tweeted. “We’ll announce the date of the strike soon.”
About 125 librarians and employees of the University of Washington Libraries and Press joined SEIU 925 in June 2021. They have been negotiating with the university for a first contract ever since. For more than a year, the union reports that the UW administration has stalled, come to bargaining meetings unprepared, or simply not responded to proposals. Many librarians haven’t seen a wage increase since before the pandemic and feel they have reached a breaking point.
“I voted to strike because I want to work at the UW that was pitched to me at my job interview,” said Allee Monheim, a public service librarian. “Not the UW that doesn’t respect us enough to even come to the bargaining table with real proposals.”
TAKE A STAND — Please sign the community petition in support of UW Libraries Union workers. It urges UW President Ana Mari Cauce and other university administrators to “stop delaying negotiations, stop eroding workplace protections, and stop proposing a two-tiered system between professional staff and librarians.”
Tuesday, Oct. 11 — the day of the member strike vote — marked the one-year anniversary of beginning the union’s contract negotiations with the University of Washington. Since then, UW management has consistently delayed the negotiation process.
Not only has the UW administration dragged out bargaining for more than a year, the UW Libraries Union reports that the UW has emphatically rejected all of the union’s attempts to codify its stated commitments to anti-racism. Most recently, the union reports that UW has proposed degradations to current workplace protections and has put forth proposals that further divide the professional staff from academic librarians by demeaning the work of professional staff at the libraries.
The UW Libraries Union argues that its employer’s tactics underscore a fundamental lack of respect for the contributions of its Libraries and Press workers and their valid concerns, undermines retention and recruitment efforts, and encourages staff departures.
More than 15% of eligible employees in the bargaining unit have left UW in the past year alone, drawn to higher paying jobs from other regional employers, forced out of the workplace by caregiving concerns, or pushed out of the region altogether by the high cost of living and UW’s low pay. Though UW ranks in the top 10 among research institutions in the US, Libraries and Press employee wages rank on average 96 out of 100 when adjusted for regional cost of living.
“When I chose librarianship as a profession, I never envisioned becoming wealthy,” wrote Jason Sokoloff, Head of the UW Foster Business Library and a member of the union’s Bargaining Action Team, in a recent column at The Stand. “But I did expect a sound career path that would afford me the chance to embrace my livelihood with at least a livable wage. Books and spaces notwithstanding, librarians and professional staff hold the keys to research excellence, and we should be compensated for our integral role in the life and pursuits of UW researchers.”