TLDR: Western brought their wages proposal to the table this week and… spoiler alert it shows that they absolutely do NOT value the labor we bring to this university. We NEED to hear your thoughts on their proposal. Come to the MMM tomorrow (Tuesday, 2/13 at 5:30 in ES 313) and be a part of the next steps conversation. RSVP ASAP for a guarantee that you get to eat Mi Rancho Tacos. 

OKAY onto the details: Today was a BIG day for bargaining. Western moved towards us and we reached a tentative agreement on five articles today (including: health and safety, grievances, immigration, scope of agreement, and travel). Some exciting wins in these articles include: ensuring workplace safety measures and access to necessary equipment and protections for ESEs, a concrete policy for resolving workplace issues, and a 30-day timeline for travel reimbursements, and support and protections, and a guarantee that international student will not have delays in pay during their process of getting a social security number.  

While Western started the day making a lot of movement towards some of our proposals, in the afternoon their counter proposals to our wages and health care articles show what they really think about the value of the labor we provide to the university. They proposed that graduate research and teaching assistants deserve almost $1,000 less than our counterparts at Universities in Mount Vernon and Seattle. Beyond that, they absolutely gutted our proposal for the majority of undergraduate hourly workers on campus, proposing that the minimum wage increase that WE WON for Bellingham is sufficient to cover the costs of living here. We know from our research that the new Bellingham minimum wage is not enough to pay our monthly rent, let alone our grocery bills, transportation costs, or utilities. 

Today, at the table, Western administration said that as our employers, while they are “empathetic to the personal life challenges” we face trying to finance our educational experience, they are not responsible for providing a solution to our financial crises. Instead, they expect that student employees work an additional 40+ hours on top of our school work to make ends meet. Our question to you is: how would your life change if the wages you were making at Western weren’t just the minimum wage, but reflected a more accurate cost of living in Bellingham? Our proposal of at least $28/hr is well researched and is based on that accurate cost of living in our community.

Western’s biggest excuse for not doing their job as our employer and providing us with a wage that we can actually live on is that their budget is tight and they are limited by the amount of funding they receive from the state and other revenue streams. They use this excuse as part of their negotiations with every unionized worker on campus. Based on our research, Western receives less state funding per student than any other university in the state. That is a problem. It’s Western’s job to get money from the state, and since they clearly aren’t doing that well enough, we are going to advocate for ourselves. 

Over the past few weeks, WAWU, along with the other unions on campus (including many of our supervisors – faculty, dining workers, classified and professional staff) are calling on the state legislature to properly fund Western. Our first majority advocacy action in our ESE contract campaign is to sign this petition, showing Western that we are united with our fellow WWU workers and that WE are willing to put in the work to find real solutions to THEIR financial crisis problem.

We NEED to hear your opinions about WWU’s wages proposal and our next steps moving forward. There is still A LOT to discuss about wages, bargaining, the operational student employee’s bill and continued path to unionization, and our collective power as student workers. Come to tomorrow’s Monthly Membership Meeting at 5:30 in Environmental Science 313 to be a part of the conversation! There will only be enough free tacos from Mi Rancho for you if you RSVP HERE!

Solidarity and fighting to improve OUR reality!


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