University, Union Reach Tentative Agreement on Wages After Strike

Max.Pod, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

( – On Tuesday, May 14, University of Washington (UW) academic student employees went on strike after the university and union failed to come to a satisfactory wage agreement. However, the following day, the news broke that a tentative agreement was reached.

United Auto Workers Local 4121 has been discussing contracts with university officials since this past February, having reached conclusions in the majority of provisions, with only one remaining as of this past week: the wages of employees. The University officials proposed that increases in pay should be 12 percent, 8 percent, and 8 percent for each contract year. However, the union has opposed this option, arguing that employees should receive a 12 percent increase in wages for all three years. 

Last month, union members voted almost unanimously in favor of a strike, which started at 6 a.m. on Tuesday when the academic student workers walked the picket line. The striking members were holding signs calling for a “living wage” and “fair contract.” A rally was also held to kick off the strike on Tuesday at 1 p.m. 

The union represents around 6,000 student employees, including many researchers, tutors, and even assistants. In a statement, UW spokesperson Victor Balta reported that the negotiations were still continuing. 

He added that the college was “bargaining in good faith” and that they really value their academic student employees. According to him, they were dedicated to coming to a “fair agreement.” He added that the college was working to ensure that classes and degree completions would not be significantly disrupted by those taking part in the strike.

On Wednesday, May 15, news outlets reported that the union and the university had reached a tentative deal the previous day. The agreement reportedly involves a 36 percent hike in salary over the course of three years. Hourly wages and other benefits such as healthcare and childcare reimbursements are also part of the agreement.

Reports suggested a vote could be held to ratify the agreement on Friday, but no updates have emerged so far.

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