Note: This message was sent to WSU graduate students system-wide on January 12, 2024. 

Dear Graduate Students:

As you are aware, the Academic Student Employees (ASEs), represented by the United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), have indicated that they intend to strike next Wednesday (January 17). Below you will find information intended to help increase awareness of pertinent state laws and other policies surrounding labor-related work stoppages. To ensure broad understanding, all graduate students are receiving this message.

No one can be required to strike

Public employees in the State of Washington are prohibited by state law from striking.  No public employee can be forced or required to participate in an unlawful strike. As a public university, WSU’s employees are considered public employees.

Pay is prohibited for hours not worked

Public entities in the State of Washington, including WSU, are prohibited by state law from paying employees who do not perform their job duties or otherwise fail to show up for work. This prohibition is also required under the university’s duty to safeguard the use of public funding and federal grant awards. WSU would violate state law if it were to pay employees for hours not worked. Graduate assistants who choose not to participate in the strike will receive their pay as usual.

All eligible employees receive negotiated benefits

Employees who are represented by the union and do not participate in a strike will still receive any negotiated compensation and other benefits available to their job classification under a ratified contract. The union is unable to require the university to withhold contractually specified compensation and other benefits from specific employees in job classifications they represent.

Discrimination and threatening behavior

State law and university policies prohibit discriminatory or threatening behavior such as bullying, toward individuals who choose not to participate or support any strike or work stoppage. If any employee experiences discrimination, threats, or intimidation, they are encouraged to contact their supervisor, college or department chair/school director, or the Office of Compliance and Civil Rights.

Additional resources and questions

Additional information and regular updates on the status of negotiations between the union representing academic student employees, UAW, and the university is available on WSU’s Human Resource Services website. If you have further questions not answered on the website, please contact WSU Labor Relations at


WSU Graduate School