UPDATE: WWU contract solidarity event



 

Sonia Baker

Sonia Baker

Western Washington University members in Bellingham marched Wednesday for a fair contract! About 150 Local 1381 members, PSE union members and students marched outside the bargaining room to say it’s time for a contract as good as the community they serve. Bargaining team member Sonia Baker joined her colleagues during a break in negotiations.

See an exclusive video clip on the WFSE Facebook page.

See more images from this week’s Contract Solidarity events across the state.

Here’s an updated Hotline story:

The WWU Bargaining Team had several days of negotiations this week. But it’s what happened outside the bargaining room on Wednesday (Aug. 13) that had the most impact.

About 150 Local 1381 members, PSE union members and students marched outside the bargaining room to say it’s time for a contract as good as the community they serve.

They circled in Red Square just outside the windows of the bargaining room.

They chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho – poverty wages have got to go!” and “Hey, hey, don’t delay – give us a contract with fair pay!”

And they filled out personalized postcards to area legislators.

The Local 1381 members said it’s time and coming together for the mid-day show of unity made a difference.

“It just shows that everybody’s together and everybody agrees that we need a pay raise and that’s important to everybody,” said Enrique Castro, who’s a grounds and nursery specialist at WWU.

“Otherwise, if nobody really cared, then it’d be tough.”

John Mueller, a plumber/pipefitter/steamfitter, said the contract solidarity event sends “management a message that they need to take us seriously if they want to continue the level of service” – otherwise the university will find it tough to attract and keep good workers.

“The cost of living has gone up for everybody,” Mueller added.

It’s about the students, said 35-year WWU employee Dave Burden, a custodian.

“The union backs the students 100 percent,” Burden said. “They (WWU workers) clean the buildings, they do the upkeep and all that…

“Now they (the university) want to cut back cleaning bathrooms. Who are they hurting? They’re not hurting the union. They’re hurting the students.”

Local 1381 President Steve Vanko, also a bargaining team member, agreed – a strong contract places students first.

“We’re the backbone that keeps the wheels turning around here,” Vanko said. “Health and safety. Clean bathrooms. Clean housing. A warm place to be in the winter. A dry place to be out of the rain. Just everything you can possibly imagine.

“It’s a home away from home for these kids. We maintain it year-round for them.”

And Vanko said the rally is necessary to send a loud-and-clear message.

“There is strength in numbers,” he said. “Our people went six years without a cost-of-living raise and we think it’s way past time.”

There will be no WWU bargaining next week. Negotiations resume Aug. 25.

More WWU bargaining information online: http://www.wfse.org/collective-bargaining/wwu/

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