TLDR: Western continues to cling to the “bare legal minimum” protections that are obviously not cutting it for Educational Student Workers. Their reluctance to move towards us in the face of research and testimonies is yet another delay tactic in creating our first contract. We need your thoughts! RSVP and come to the MMM at 5:30 on Tuesday, 2/13 in ES 313 for tacos and bargaining tactics. 

Buckle up, LOTS of things happened this past week, so this update is chock full.

 This week, Western presented 12 counter articles. While this might seem like a vast improvement from last week’s 3 articles, most of WWU’s counters made very little if any movement towards the priorities of student workers from WAWU’s original proposals. It is becoming clearer with each session that Western Admin is wasting our time during bargaining sessions, clinging to their notion that the “legal bare minimum” is good enough. Meanwhile, we return to the table each session with clear examples from real student workers and researched evidence of why our university needs to agree to stronger protections.

In January, ESEs presented and gave testimony on important equity issues. In their counter to these equity articles this week, Western admin said an appropriate workplace accommodation for a student worker with a disability is unpaid leave and they have once again said ESEs should not have bereavement leave. They also openly acknowledged that nothing in their current or proposed anti-discrimination policy protects against discrimination based on weight. They also said we shouldn’t have peer-led ADEI trainings, and that such trainings led by student workers – who have actual lived experience in their workplace – would be “dangerous”. Western admin also returned a counter on our layoffs article, stating that they should be able to cut the hours of student workers or even lay us off without prior notice. Western is not making significant movement on many articles, delaying tentative agreements on many articles that have reached a good point. Meanwhile, we come to the bargaining table each week ready to make progress towards having a finished first contract by the end of this school year. Tomorrow, we will return to the bargaining table with 6 more counters and hope that Western comes prepared to reach a  tentative agreement to 6 of our proposals. 

On Monday February 5th, 2024, over 5,000 emails and 800 calls from not only OSEs, but also from us Educational Student Employees, were purposefully ignored, and SB 5895 died – even with broad support across both chambers of the Washington legislature. When the ESE bill passed last year, WWU submitted a fiscal note (the administrative costs associated with sitting down to bargain with us) of $78k. This year, their incredibly inflated fiscal note claimed that it would cost them 5 MILLION DOLLARS  over the next year just to sit down at a negotiation table with OSEs. To us, it is very clear that SB5895 is dead because Western Washington University Administration decided to deliberately kill the legislative path to OSEs’ working rights. 

Even though the bill is dead, the path to unionization for OSEs is not. The OSE Organizing Committee sent a letter to Western Admin last Thursday and also spoke at the Board of Trustees meeting Friday morning, demanding that WWU immediately voluntarily recognize them. We, the ESE Bargaining Committee, support their demand, and sent a companion statement to WWU admin with the same request. Western should not be denying half of their student work force the ability to have a democratic say in their workplace, while actively negotiating a contract with the other half. 

Upcoming events:

  1. Next Bargaining Session: Monday, February 12th from 11-5 in VU 565. Your presence is powerful—let’s show Western that we are all listening to what they say and we won’t accept their lack of care and empathy for the working conditions of ESEs!
  2. Monthly Membership Meeting: Tuesday, February 13th at 5:30pm in ES 313. This MMM will be CRUCIAL for understanding how YOU, the WAWU membership, feel about WWU’s counter proposals in our bargaining session and  their blatant disregard for the labor rights of our OSE counterparts. Come contribute your voice.  RSVP HERE SO THAT WE HAVE ENOUGH TACOS FOR EVERYONE! 

Solidarity and determination,

WAWU Bargaining Committee

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