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99% of UW Academic Student Employees OK strike

University of Washington ASE collective bargaining agreement expires on April 30


The following is from UAW Local 4121:

SEATTLE (April 29, 2024) — With 3,040 total UW Academic Student Employee members voting, 3,013 (99.11%) voted a resounding “yes” to authorize their bargaining team to call for a strike if circumstances justify. ASEs at the University of Washington are members of UAW Local 4121, and they have been frustrated by UW Administration’s bargaining delays and lack of meaningful proposals ahead of their contract expiring on April 30. Votes were tallied last night.

Academic Student Employees will meet to strategize in light of the strike vote and discuss next steps. Additional bargaining sessions are scheduled before the contract expires and ASEs remain committed to negotiating in order to reach a deal by the expiration of their contract. ASEs are fighting for a fair contract, one which includes fair pay that keeps up with rising costs and peer institutions, adequate and affordable healthcare, and protections for non-citizen ASEs. Read more in this piece.

“Like thousands of my colleagues, I voted yes to authorize a strike because too many of us are rent-burdened, living paycheck to paycheck, having to take on second jobs to afford to live where we work—and UW Admin has made it clear that they don’t care,” said Nelson Niu, an ASE in Mathematics.

“UW’s healthcare offer isn’t enough! Becoming a graduate student worker shouldn’t mean signing away your physical and mental health. You shouldn’t be one health emergency away from dropping out or accruing medical debt. We’ve fought for strong health coverage in the past and we’re going to keep fighting for it—and at a price we can afford, with $0 insurance premiums. A strike is a last resort, but we are prepared to do what it takes to win the contract we deserve,” said Francesca Colonnese, an ASE in English Literature.

“It’s so energizing to see this overwhelming support for our strike authorization vote and winning our contract demands. Non-citizen ASEs deserve to be protected and invested in to enable them to do their work without undue immigration-related worries. It’s been infuriating to see UW Admin treat non-citizen ASEs as an afterthought, unworthy of more than a few ‘discussion’ meetings a year. I couldn’t do anything for my mom when she was in that position, but I can do something for my fellow ASEs now,” said Susana Simmonds Bohorquez, an ASE in Bioengineering.

UAW Local 4121 is the union of 6,000 ASEs at UW, undergraduate and graduate teaching and research assistants, tutors, and graders who do the majority of teaching and research at UW. Members of UAW Local 4121 also include Postdocs and Research Scientists at UW who often work closely with ASEs. April 28 marks the 20 years since UAW Local 4121 ratified their first contract. Get the latest updates on UW ASEs’ bargaining here.

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