Connect with us


Educational Student Employees authorize strike at WWU

The following is from WAWU-UAW:

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (May 10, 2024) — A supermajority of Educational Student Employees at Western Washington University (WWU) voted resoundingly by 93 percent to authorize their union’s elected bargaining committee to call a strike if significant progress is not made in their negotiations for a first contract. Seventy-three percent of the entire unit cast votes, with a total of 691 Yes, and 55 No.

The 1,100 Educational Student Employees at WWU are members of Western Academic Workers United-United Auto Workers (WAWU-UAW). The union won recognition last June and has been bargaining a first agreement with the University administration since September.

Educational Student Employees at Western work doing teaching, research, and related varied roles in the university’s educational ecosystem. Of the 1,100 members of the union, 900 are undergraduates, and 200 are graduates. These workers play an invaluable role in teaching classes, doing research, advising and tutoring students, and other valuable work that makes Western run. The union’s priorities for its first contract include competitive wages, partial relief from tuition and fees, strong protections against discrimination and harassment, and bereavement leave.

“We are disappointed that it has come to this, but our decisive Strike Authorization Vote indicates there is overwhelming support for achieving our priorities—fair wages, tuition assistance, an end to burdensome fees, bereavement leave, adequate protections for harassment and discrimination and  protections against unlawful termination.” said Taylar Christianson, a Tutor in the Research and Writing Studio. “We love our work, but too many of us are constantly struggling to get by on minimum wage, and worry about whether we can continue to work and study here. Our contract demands will allow us to focus on our work and make Western the equitable and accessible public institution that it should be.”

“Student employees have been on the bottom of Western’s priority list for too long, and the overwhelming support for our strike authorization sends a clear message. We aren’t going to take it any more,” said Gabe Wong, a Peer Advisor and member of the Bargaining Committee. “Student Employees have spent the last two years talking to each other about these issues and what could be done to improve them. We don’t want to strike, but we know how important these issues are for us, and all the student employees that will come after us.”

“We want a contract. It needs to be fair and address the real and pressing issues affecting us while we try to work and study at a University that hasn’t been treating us fairly,” said Evan Coit, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Biology. “We want to create a stronger, better, more equitable WWU—and the University says it shares that goal. It’s time for them to turn their words into action at the bargaining table and show they value the Educational Student Employees who power the teaching and research here.”

WAWU student workers will meet after the bargaining session on May 13 to strategize in light of the strike vote and discuss next steps. Additional bargaining sessions are scheduled later in the month.

Learn more at

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!