Graduate students who work for the University of Washington have given their bargaining unit the go-ahead to call a strike if they cannot reach a deal on a contract.
A majority of graduate students who work for the University of Washington have voted to strike if the union that represents them cannot reach an agreement with the UW on a new contract.
About 90 percent of the 2,258 votes cast authorized the UAW 4121 bargaining committee to call a strike if circumstances justify it. There are about 4,000 graduate students who work for the university.
The students — who work as research assistants and teaching assistants, and are known as Academic Student Employees — say the latest contract offer requires them to pay student fees out of their paychecks, which amounts to a pay cut. They also say the contract would cut health benefits.
Last week, UW officials sent a letter to the students saying it is illegal for them to strike because they are public employees. The students said the letter was designed to intimidate them.
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The contract expires April 30.