Campus workers, SEIU Local 1 housekeepers win path to $15 at WashU

University graduate workers continue their fight higher wages, union rights

WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY campus workers and graduate workers demonstrated on campus in April demanding $15 for All. – William Greenblatt photo

After coming together in demonstrations on campus over the past year, campus workers and housekeepers at Washington University in St. Louis have won a path to a $15/hour wage, helping them support their families and communities.

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.

“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.”

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.”

“I have made this decision after an inclusive, thoughtful and thorough process that involved dialogue with students, university employees, community activists and St. Louis religious and social justice leaders, as well as a full assessment of the financial and operational implications,” Washington University Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said in a statement. “I have recommended that we take this step because it is the right thing to do.”

Support for a $15 wage for our region’s working families continues to grow.

  • St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, in May announced plans to raise employee pay in her office to $15 an hour.
  • “Forward Through Ferguson,” the report compiled by the Ferguson Commission following the Aug. 9, 2014 death of Michael Brown and the social unrest that followed, recommended implementing a $15 wage to make the St. Louis region more equitable across racial lines.
  • More than 2,100 janitors across the city and county will be kicking off their fight for a $15 wage in a strong new contract later this year.

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