At the bargaining session yesterday, we finally proposed all of our major contract articles by passing them across the table! Over 50 ESEs presented our demands for wages, tuition & fee waivers, parking, housing and healthcare, despite WWU Admin unilaterally changing the bargaining location to a room with a much smaller capacity than we agreed upon in our ground rules. The smaller room only served to amplify the number of us who are engaged in this bargaining process (it was possibly a fire code violation!) – showing Admin that we are all invested in the outcome of our contract negotiations. 

Our wage proposal was described by management as an unrealistic starting point – an opinion that completely ignores all the research we have compiled based on competitive wages and cost of living amongst the universities along the I-5 corridor. Our wage proposal brings ALL ESES at Western up to the standard set by wages at other universities in our state – especially WSU grads in Mt. Vernon! We think that everyone — both graduate ESEs on stipends and hourly workers — deserve equitable pay increases. Our article keeps the same percent differences in pay between job titles that Western Admin themselves have determined for our current rates. While our proposals may be bold, they’re firmly grounded in reality — we all deserve to earn enough to live and go to school in Bellingham. 

Our peers at WSU-CASE are showing us the way to win big. Today, after two hours on strike this morning (at a very snowy picket line), WSU-CASE won their first contract! Some of the biggest wins for WSU academic student employees include:

  • A $2665/month graduate stipend
  • 6 week parental leave
  • No more hidden fees
  • $300 health care deductibles

This is big news not just for WSU, but for all of us as we continue to fight for a contract that meets the needs of ESEs at WWU. WAWU members stood in solidarity with our counterparts in Mount Vernon who are prepared to do the same for us if we face the same unfair labor practices during the course of our negotiations. 

If we want to win our demands, we have to keep reminding WWU that we’re going to stand together in support of them. Come to the next bargaining session on Monday, January 22nd anytime between 11-5 in VU565 to hear Western’s responses to our economic articles. We will be responding to some of their counter proposals and our fellow ESEs will also be sharing their testimony in support of our equity proposals (including accommodations, ADEI training, anti-discrimination, and immigration). Yesterday’s session showed how important it is that we show up and show Western we’re watching what they say closely—so RSVP HERE to keep up the pressure!

Solidarity from your elected bargaining committee members,

Ally Wehrle, Graduate TA

Ben Workman Smith, Graduate TA

David Cummins, Graduate RA/TA

Erin Grimes, Graduate TA

Erin Magarro, Library Tutor/Ethnic Student Center

Ev Coit, Graduate TA

Gabe Wong, Associated Students Peer Advisor

Jaime Blais, Graduate RA/TA

Josh Kinney, Business Management Faculty Assistant

Jude Ziliak, Academic Advising and Student Achievement Center Peer Advisor

Lexy Aydelotte, Graduate TA

Lydia Henderson, Graduate TA

Mickey Jolliff, Graduate RA/TA

Mason Nicholas, Student Technology Center Computer Assistant

Theo Hytopoulos, Computer Science Faculty Assistant

Valerie Campbell, Financial Aid Peer Advisor


P.S. LAST CALL!! Take a second to help our Operational Student Employees unionize by SIGNING IN PRO for their bill’s first legislative hearing. The deadline is 7am on January 18th. It’s ALSO last call to SIGN UP FOR WESTERN INTERSECTIONAL LOBBY DAY – a free trip to Olympia hosted by AS WWU – lots of WAWU folks are planning to go to lobby for  our bill that will ensure that operational student employees (OSEs) at WWU and across the state have the same right to collectively bargain as us!! We win big when we fight together!!