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Student workers at Central WA University are forming a union

The following is from Working Wildcats – UAW:

ELLENSBURG, Wash. (Nov. 30, 2023) — On Wednesday, student employees who work at Central Washington University announced their campaign to form a union representing all student workers on campus. Working Wildcats – UAW is working to gain union recognition for all 1,000 student employees at Central, including undergraduates and graduates, working in diverse roles including teaching assistants, dining and catering workers, resident assistants, clerical workers, researchers, tutors, and all other students working part time jobs at the university.

“We’ve had conversations with hundreds of student workers across campus, and it’s clear that student workers believe we should have a seat at the table,” said Danielle Hegarty, an Admissions Tour Guide and former History Teaching Assistant. “We’re teaching large classes of students, we’re doing critical work that the university can’t function without, and many of us are relying on these jobs to get by. Having fair working conditions is an important part of making sure that higher ed can work for everyone, not just a privileged few who have independent resources to get through school.”

Student workers from across the university do essential work that makes the university run every day, but many student workers struggle with low compensation, rising rents in Ellensburg, insecure scheduling, uncertainty about their jobs, and harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In joining the growing movement of workers unionizing in higher education, they are seeking not only to improve their own conditions but raise the bar for academic workers everywhere. They are also joining the wave of organizing amongst student workers, doing work of all kinds to keep universities running.

“Many students who do have to work during college are from minoritized backgrounds, whether by social class, race, first generation college student status, gender, or sexual orientation. Many of us are working multiple jobs to get by while we’re in school, and the worse our jobs are, the harder it is for us to make everything work”, said Olené Tagialuao, an Apartment Manager with University Residences. “For myself and others, going to college is supposed to be a vehicle to economic stability. But for those of us who have to work our way through school, when we’re getting paid minimum wage, the math doesn’t work out for us to make it through to the other side.”

In forming a union, student workers at Central are joining their colleagues at Washington State University, Western Washington University, and the University of Washington, as well as nearby Oregon State University, all institutions where student employees have won the right to collectively bargain.

The UAW represents 100,000 higher education workers across the U.S., including more student employees than any other union. For more information, visit Working Wildcats – UAW online.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!