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Washington State University student employee union files unfair labor practice complaint

Jimmy Emerson/Flickr Commons

The Washington State University student employee union has filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the University, alleging it unilaterally changed student workers’ health insurance plans.

Washington State University’s student workers’ union was recognized last fall. It covers student employees across all campuses, as well as extension offices and research sites.

Yiran Gua is a doctorate student studying materials science and engineering, a research assistant and a member of the union’s bargaining committee. He said access to healthcare was one of the primary reasons many student workers wanted to create a union.

He said many workers that are essential to the university, such as tutors or research and teaching assistants, are struggling to make ends meet and to access essential healthcare.

“We bargain because our career, and livelihood depend on this,” Gua said. “We're not simply student receiving support to go to school. We work tirelessly in the teaching, and research effort that build WSU as a prestigious R1 institution.”

The union has asked the Washington Public Employment Relations Commission to find that WSU failed to bargain in good faith and to include the union in all future health insurance negotiations.

A spokesperson for WSU did not respond to a request for comment.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.