More than 1,600 WSU student workers file to unionize

Wsu Union
Credit: WSU-CASE

PULLMAN, Wash. – More than 1,600 student workers at Washington State University have filed to form a union. 

Graduate and undergraduate teaching and researching assistants, as well as tutors and graders (known as Academic Student Employees) across all campuses filed their representation petition with the Public Employment Relations Commission Wednesday. 

They are working to be recognized as a new bargaining unit called the Coalition of Academic Student Employees/United Auto Workers or WSU-CASE/UAW. 

Washington State University is currently the only major public research institution on the west coast that does not have a union for student employees. 

“We worked really hard for this day, and are so proud to be giving voice to a majority of ASEs at WSU who want a union to improve their lives and working conditions. In thousands of conversations with our colleagues we kept hearing the same things: that people are struggling. The health insurance is inadequate for many ASEs, compensation isn’t keeping up with housing and other costs, there isn’t recourse against discrimination and bullying, and the list goes on,” said Priyanka Bushana, Research Assistant in Translational Medicine and Physiology at WSU Health Sciences in Spokane. “By forming a union, we can negotiate as equals with the WSU Administration to have more transparent working conditions and build a stronger, more equitable university.”

The group of academic student employees says they power WSU’s learning and research mission, yet struggle to make ends meet while making their way through the higher education career pipeline. 

The UAW is the single largest union of academic student employees and postdoctoral scholars across the U.S. It represents nearly 100,000 academic employees at more than 40 universities and colleges nationwide. 

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