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UW Teaching Assistant Strike Canceled After Union Members Ratify Contract

Ashley Gross
UW academic student employees at a rally in May

University of Washington teaching assistants and other academic student employees have approved a new contract and canceled plans for a strike.

The TAs, research assistants, readers, graders and tutors number about 4,500 and they’re represented by UAW 4121. They had previously announced plans to strike this week, a move that threatened to disrupt final exams and delay grades.

But university officials presented their last, best and final offer on Friday, and 62 percent of members voted to ratify it. The contract will provide two percent wage increases annually and improved childcare subsidies along with better health coverage for transgender people.

The union did not get everything it wanted – it had pushed for the university to tie wages to the median at peer institutions such as the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and for an exemption from student fees.

University President Ana Mari Cauce said in a statement that university officials are “heartened by this result.”

She said the contract continues the university’s progress in raising wages for academic student employees, but she also acknowledged the reality faced by students living in one of the most expensive parts of the country.

“We recognize that our region’s skyrocketing house costs are placing real financial stresses on our academic student employees, along with other members of our community, and we look forward to working together during the legislative session on behalf of funding for higher education and our top priority, which will continue to be better wages for all our employees,” she said.  

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.