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WSU Academic Student Employees vote to OK strike

The following is from the Washington State University Coalition of Academic Student Employees (WSU-CASE)/UAW:

PULLMAN, Wash. (Nov. 8, 2023) – A strong majority of Academic Student Employees (ASEs) at Washington State University voted resoundingly to authorize their elected bargaining team to call a strike if circumstances warrant. 93% of ASEs who cast a ballot voted yes, with 1,161 total votes cast (65% of the bargaining unit). ASEs play a crucial role in advancing WSU’s teaching and research mission.

“I voted YES because it shows our resolve to be treated with the dignity we deserve and to hold the University Administration accountable for their conduct in bargaining. While I love my work and don’t necessarily want to strike, we are prepared to do what it takes to win a contract that makes WSU a better place,” said Chia-Hui Chen, a Research Assistant and International Scholar on the Spokane campus.

ASEs started bargaining with WSU Admin one year ago, and while they have made progress on many issues, they have not been able to reach agreement with WSU on several key demands, including livable wages, adequate health insurance, protections against harassment and discrimination, and fair workload because of WSU Admin’s unlawful bargaining behavior, hostility in negotiations, and failure to make proposals that meet the needs of Academic Student Employees.

“I love the work I do, and I am passionate about my research, but passion does not keep me safe and certainly does not pay the bills. Countless Academic Student Employees have similar stories to mine and yet WSU has shown that they do not care about us. We are prepared to show WSU Admin that without us, the work doesn’t get done,” said Nas Cardwell, a Research Assistant in Chemical Engineering on the Pullman campus.

“You can’t budget yourself out of poverty, but WSU Admin thinks a living wage is unrealistic. I want future ASEs to live a dignified life with quality healthcare, living wages, and a grievance process they can trust. I hope WSU Admin will come to the table and bargain in good faith so we can reach a fair agreement quickly,” said Darcy Bird, Anthropology, Pullman.

Through their union, WSU-CASE/UAW (WSU Coalition of Academic Student Employees/ United Auto Workers), ASEs filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint over bad faith bargaining related to health insurance by the University Administration. The Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) has found merit to the complaint and is investigating.

“This vote demonstrates that Academic Student Employees at Washington State University are united in their effort to secure a strong first contract. Their UAW siblings are proud to support them as they stand up to bad faith bargaining by their employer,” said Mike Miller, Director of UAW Region 6.

No specific strike date has been set.  The WSU-CASE/UAW Bargaining Team will meet to discuss and announce strike dates, should it become necessary to call a strike.

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