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WWU academic employees seek to unionize

ASEs at Western Washington University submit signatures with supermajority support, seek voluntary recognition


The following is from Western Academic Workers United-UAW:

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (Dec. 12, 2022) — On Dec. 2, student employees who work as teachers, researchers, and tutors at Western Washington University filed to form a union with the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC). Western Academic Workers United-UAW (WAWU-UAW) would represent these 700 workers, known as Academic Student Employees (ASEs), across all colleges and departments of the university. The workers filed with union authorization cards signed by a supermajority of the proposed bargaining unit.

Academic Student Employees from all departments make essential contributions to the teaching and research work that makes Western run every day. But many lack secure rights and protections in the workplace, struggle with low compensation and inadequate health care, and face uncertainty about their careers. In joining the growing movement to unionize in higher education they are seeking not only to improve their own conditions but raise the bar for academic workers everywhere.

“Recently, we have seen the power of academic organizing on full display at the University of California, and we’ve watched academic workers across the country win better pay, workload protections, real recourse against discrimination and harassment and much more by forming a union. A supermajority of Western ASEs support our union because they want to negotiate as equals with the administration and build a stronger university,” said Willa Rowan, a Teaching Assistant in the Geology Department.

“We don’t want to see another ASE pushed out of their research when an illness strikes and they can’t afford the health care they need, or because they face discrimination at work and have nowhere to turn. By coming together to form a union, we can focus on creating a more equitable Western that enables us to thrive in our research and for the academic workers who come after us,” said Lexy Aydelotte, a Teaching Assistant in History.

“Academic Student Employees at Western are joining the thousands of workers nationwide who have chosen unionization as the best way to make improvements in their academic workplaces,” said Ron McInroy, Director of UAW Region 4. “We are proud to welcome Western ASEs to the UAW, and stand ready to support them as they secure a voice at work and fight for fair, equitable, and transparent working conditions.”

“We welcome student workers at Western Washington University to the UAW, and stand in strong support of their efforts to improve their working conditions and academia as a whole. Academic workers power institutions of higher education and deserve a voice at work,” said UAW President Ray Curry.

The UAW represents 100,000 higher education workers across the U.S., including more academic student employees and more postdoctoral scholars than any other union. For more information, visit us online at

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