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'You called us heroes, prove it': University of Washington workers asking for better pay, safety improvements

The coordinator of the picket said the salaries of workers in IT and student affairs aren't keeping up with inflation.

TACOMA, Wash. — Workers gathered in Commerce Plaza, located on the University of Washington’s Tacoma campus, to hold an informational picket.

The picket was part of a larger call to action from workers on all three of the University of Washington’s campuses in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell, along with Harborview Medical Center and Northwest Hospital in Seattle.

Jesse Cooley, who coordinated today’s event in Tacoma says that the current salaries of workers in departments such as IT and student affairs aren’t keeping up with inflation and rising costs of living.

 “We held the University of Washington afloat during COVID. We deserve fair compensation for those efforts,” Cooley said. “We have individuals who live in Federal Way who have to commute to Seattle because…that’s where they can afford to live.“

But it’s not just about pay. Cooley says campus safety also needs to be addressed because his office doesn’t have a way to evacuate the building effectively if necessary.

“If an earthquake or a fire or… an active shooter incident occurred today, the people in my office would not know where to go to rally because our rally point is in the middle of an active construction zone, and has been for a year,” he explained.

Cooley is now warning that the University needs to do something fast because while the current contract expires next June, the hope is to have the next one ready by this October.

“They’re dragging their feet,” Cooley said. “We deserve to be paid. We deserve safe worksites, and we’re presenting this informational picket to ensure that our voices are being heard.”

A spokesperson from the University of Washington sent KING 5 a statement that said, “We appreciate the hard work of our workforce and will continue to bargain in good faith to reach a fair agreement.”


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