University of Washington Lecturers Vote for the Union

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Extension lecturers at the University of Washington have voted overwhelmingly to be represented by AFT Washington. On March 25, the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission certified the union, which becomes the first bargaining unit of lecturers in the state.

The extension lecturers, who teach classes at the university's Educational Outreach English Language Program, filed a petition for union recognition three years ago. The university, however, challenged their right to unionize because the lecturers did not have an established public job classification; they are employed through quarterly or annual contracts. After initial resistance, the administration agreed to exempt them from civil service so they could organize under a collective bargaining law passed in 2009, which allows exempt higher education employees to unionize.

"For years, our voice was not represented at the University of Washington," says Richard Moore, who has taught English, English as a second language and business English for 17 years at the university. "It's been a long time and we encountered a number of roadblocks, but we are looking forward to working with the administration to bargain the conditions that will enhance our working environment and our students' learning experience."

AFT Washington president and AFT vice president Sandra Schroeder says, "I have worked with these teachers since 2006 to find a pathway to representation. They have been steadfast and committed in their desire for a voice at the university. We are pleased that the university has at last responded to their request, and we are proud to have them as members of the AFT family." [AFT Washington]

March 29, 2011