Transforming Higher Education

Movement Milestones and Victories

We’re working to improve learning and teaching conditions and access to higher education, while standing up to end the trend toward a low-road, corporate-business model for education. More than 50,000 faculty and graduate workers are already united through SEIU Faculty Forward. Every day more educators, students and community members across the country are joining our fight to transform higher education. Here’s a look at what we’ve accomplished together so far.

Over 1,200 campus workers win a pathway to $15 at Washington University in Saint Louis

Over 1,200 campus workers win a pathway to $15 at Washington University in Saint Louis

After coming together on campus over the past year, Washington University in St. Louis campus workers and housekeepers won a path to a $15 wage, helping them support their families and communities. This major victory comes after a coalition of workers, including grad workers, occupied the front lawn of the campus administration building for 33 days.

“Housekeepers, graduate workers and campus workers at WashU came together across racial lines and different backgrounds to fight for the $15 we need to support our families and improve our neighborhoods,” said Local 1 WashU housekeeper Gary Johnson. “We showed our region that a $15 wage isn’t just possible, it’s essential in making St. Louis a better place for all working families.”

Starting July 1, 2021, nearly 1,200 regular and contracted workers will see their pay raised to $15 an hour, lifting the St. Louis region for all working people and illustrating the growing support for a $15 wage for working families.

WashU graduate workers, with the support of housekeepers and campus workers, will continue to fight for $15, a union voice and childcare to make sure WashU lives up to its mission and is a better place for all working people.

“The increase to $15 is a really important victory for workers at WashU,” said Washington University Graduate Workers Union (WUGWU) member Grace Ward. “As a member of WUGWU, I’m proud of the coalition that came together in this fight, and I’m looking forward to continuing to organize with housekeepers, service workers, undergrads, faculty, and activists in the wider St. Louis community. Direct action works, and we’re going to keep it up.”

Across the country, there is a national coordinated fight for $15 campaign across campuses that is picking up wins. Graduate workers are increasing the pressure on their employers to raise stipends to a minimum living wage, in addition to better working conditions. After a series of protests and a high profile campaigns, graduate workers at Duke University and Emory University won $31,000 year stipend— the equivalent of $15 an hour for year-round, full-time work.

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