Op-ed: A message from the WUGWU-SEIU Local 1 Organizing Committee

Miranda Popkey | WUGWU Organizing Committee

Washington University’s graduate workers and undergraduates are united and on the march. Over the course of a single semester, graduate workers organizing with the Washington University Graduate Workers Union (WUGWU) have won subsidized dental care, lower out-of-pocket healthcare maximums and guaranteed summer funding. Last semester we fought back against a threatened tax on stipend waivers that would have made it impossible for any but the wealthiest to pursue graduate degrees. These gains are significant, and we’ve achieved them in record time. They are evidence of what we are capable of when we take action. When graduate workers, undergraduates, faculty and community members come together to put pressure on this money-rich but value-poor Wash. U. administration, we win.

Our actions are part of a nationwide wave of organizing among graduate workers and teachers across the country, including graduate worker strikes at Columbia University in New York and Loyola University in Chicago and teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona. When the members of WUGWU take action, we do so as part of a national movement, a movement that has proven, time and again, the efficacy of direct action.

As the school year draws to a close and summer approaches, we and our allies across the country must continue to build momentum and power so we can further our fight this fall. We must ensure that these wins become a precedent, not an anomaly. That’s why WUGWU has launched official membership within our organization in partnership with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 to build our strength in numbers and gather the resources we need to keep battling the administration come September. Rather than waiting on the Wash. U. or Trump administrations to recognize our union, we are taking action and building our union now. We are on the cutting edge of workers finding new ways to organize. We urge you to join us by becoming an official member of WUGWU-SEIU Local 1, leaders in the nationwide fight for economic justice and workers’ rights.

Together we rise, signed,

The Members of the WUGWU-SEIU Local 1 Organizing Committee