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Solidarity Statement with WFSE 3488 UW Laundry Workers

Thursday December 6, 2018

Dear members of WFSE Local 3488 and all union members at the University of Washington,

For years, members of WFSE Local 3488 have diligently and with dedication cleaned the linens and hospital scrubs for University of Washington-run medical facilities. Your work is difficult but essential to providing a clean, safe environment for every single patient who comes to receive care at UW Medical Center, Harborview, and other facilities.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the highly-paid executives who run UW Medicine don’t appreciate your labor, dedication, and skill. I am appalled that the UW administration has announced plans to privatize laundry operations, jeopardizing the employment of more than 100 workers, the majority of whom are women, people of color, and immigrants. This is an insult both towards you and to our entire community of working people. It is small solace that the UW administration has said they will offer jobs to laundry workers elsewhere in the UW system. In addition to dislocating workers’ lives and extending their commutes to new worksites, the contracting out means that UW – a public university – will now be patronizing a private laundry business that pays workers poverty wages and denies them basic rights on the job.

As a rank-and-file member of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789, a member of Socialist Alternative, and a Seattle City Councilmember, I stand in complete solidarity with you in your fight to protect your jobs and to stop UW Medicine from its reckless attempt to privatize laundry work. I also stand fully with you in your fight for a fair contract for all WFSE members at the University of Washington.

I am also appalled that UW is trying to force WFSE members to accept a substandard contract. I applaud your overwhelming rejection of the administration’s paltry offer of only 2 percent pay increases a year. The soaring cost of living in the Seattle area – abetted by the UW administration’s active efforts to gentrify the University District and surrounding neighborhoods – justifies a much larger pay increase for the dedicated WFSE members who make UW run every day. I am pleased to hear that you are moving toward taking a strike vote, and I encourage all members to get involved in this effort.

I promise you that my office, and Socialist Alternative, will do everything in our power to support your right to decent jobs and a union contract for all UW workers. My office is fully committed to work closely with you, the members of WFSE Locals 3488 and 1488, your union leadership, United Students Against Sweatshops, campus unions including SEIU 925 and UAW 4121, and others to ensure that we build a strong and united fightback against the outrageous injustices that UW administration is seeking to force on you.

Please feel free to reach out to my office any time.

In solidarity,

Councilmember Kshama Sawant

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