The year-long fight for fair wages

The University of Washington Libraries and Press workers are on strike, striking for fair pay, racial justice and a fair workplace.

With many years since their last raise, University of Washington library and press workers took a one day strike on Thursday Oct. 13.

The strike began from 10:20 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with opening remarks on steps of the Suzzallo Library, later trickling their way down to Odegaard Library, the Medical Center, the Health Sciences library, the Foster business library and even to President Cauce.

As reported by The Princeton Review, the University of Washington ranks in the top 10 nationwide for research but ranks in the bottom 10 in library pay. After over a year of bargaining, UW libraries and press workers demand fair pay, safe staffing, diverse hiring, accessible facilities and all-gender bathrooms.

Photo by Alexa Christie | One of the libraries on the UW Tacoma campus.

During the strike many library workers held signs with their reasons as to why they were striking for fair pay:

“If UW paid me a living wage, I could quit my second job”

“You shouldn’t have to date a computer scientist to afford rent”

“More than a praise we need a raise”

Many of the signs were held by Seattle community members who came together to demand fair working conditions.

The UW library union won recognition over a year ago and are still negotiating their first contract due to UW stalling, thus inciting 20 library employees to resign from UW and seek a fair paying employer elsewhere.

“… We deserve fair wages that match our expertise and education. We also deserve a contract and demand that UW stop delaying and prolonging negotiations,” said Chelsea Nesvig, Research and Instruction Librarian.

With employees resigning due to low wages it has caused a staffing shortage placing a heavier workload on existing employees, adding an extra load of 10-20 hours in overtime a week without overtime pay.

“I expect the university I graduated from to hold itself to the same standards of progress and excellence that it holds its students to. Since being employed at UW I’ve seen more lip service and adherence to status quo than I’ve seen tangible action for workers rights and racial justice,” said Alex Blair, Advancement Outreach Officer.

In current negotiations, UW has frequently proposed to eliminate many protections UW library and press workers still have, as the fight towards fair wages continue, anyone can support the UW libraries and workers by signing a community petition.

To sign the community petition: