OLYMPIA — A bill to establish collective bargaining rights for student employees was heard in the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee Thursday. 

Senate Bill 5895, sponsored by Sen. T’wina Nobles (D-Fircrest), would create a framework for collective bargaining for a new bargaining unit of employees enrolled in an academic or certificate program at Washington’s regional universities — Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Western Washington University and Evergreen State College — that are not currently covered in state law.  

Right now, there is no statutory framework that defines collective bargaining for student employees doing work outside of research, instructional, and other academic-related services. Nobles said the legislation defines an appropriate bargaining unit as all employees covered in this statute to ensure students employed by their university have equitable protections across different types of jobs. 

“Student employees are critical to the everyday operations of their universities. They are resident advisors, maintenance workers, cashiers, counselors, tour guides, and so much more — each with unique job needs,” Nobles said. “It’s time for more student workers to have a voice in their workplace.” 

Follow the bill’s progress here.