UW News

May 25, 2018

UW statement regarding ongoing negotiations with academic student employees – May 25, 2018

UW News

We are very disappointed that the academic student employees (ASEs) at the University of Washington have announced a strike to begin June 2, despite the fact that two bargaining sessions are scheduled before that date. The UW is working with deans, chancellors and department chairs to avoid disruption or delay in grades or graduation should the ASEs strike.

Academic student employees make a median wage of $32 an hour for 20-hour-per-week positions – in addition to free tuition and benefits which include free individual health insurance – and the UW has proposed a 2 percent increase in each of the next three years. This follows a 50.4 percent increase in ASE wages over the past five years.

“These are not low-wage jobs, these are part-time jobs that have significant financial benefits in addition to wages and professional skill development,” said Mindy Kornberg, UW’s vice president for human resources. “We all agree academic student employees make significant contributions to the University, and their teaching and research is essential to the UW’s success. We remain committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to them and also fair to our other students, faculty and staff who are also impacted by these decisions.”

Academic student employees have proposed wage increases in each of the next three years that are tied to the median wage among peer institutions. [Note: This paragraph was updated at 2:15 p.m. May 30, following a new proposal presented during bargaining on May 29]

In addition, ASEs – who are students in addition to being part-time teaching and research assistants – are asking for waivers on the student fees all students at the UW pay for services, facilities and resources from which they benefit.

These student fees – which are set and administered by students for the benefit of students – fund a range of student services. ASEs are asking to be exempt from paying for them and inaccurately framing these student fees as “fees to work.” They are, in fact, fees they pay as part of their status as students, not employees. These student fees are voted on and paid by all students regardless of their employment status.

Because the state delegated students the right to impose fees upon themselves, the UW administration does not have the authority to waive them. The only option would be to pay those fees for the UW’s 4,500 academic student employees – about $4.3 million per year – from other sources, including tuition dollars.

Among the services funded by these student-administered fees are health-related services such as the UW Counseling Center, Hall Health Center, and UW’s Health & Wellness program, which provides peer education on sexual violence and harassment prevention, alcohol and other drugs. Community, diversity and equity programs also supported by these student fees include the Q Center, the Ethnic Cultural Center, the Intellectual House, the Student Veteran Life office, and the D Center, the UW’s Disabled and D/deaf cultural center.

These student fees also support affordable legal representation from Student Legal Services, as well as the UW Parent Resource Center, which provides vouchers to student parents to help pay for child care at Seattle-area centers.

Finally, the student fees cover use of UW Recreation facilities, such as the UW Fitness Center, and a student U-PASS which provides unlimited rides on regional public transit and Link Light Rail and Sounder trains.

“I simply cannot in good conscience ask other students – many of whom pay tuition and also work, on- or off-campus – to pay their own student fees in full while also subsidizing student fees for academic student employees,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce said. “It’s just not fair to other students.”

Updates on the negotiations can be found on the UW Labor Relations website. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Tuesday.