US Secretary of Education cancels speech at UW graduation

Jun 12, 2023, 11:04 AM

UW graduation speech strike...

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks on gun violence during an event at John R. Lewis High School on June 2, 2023 in Springfield, Virginia. Vice President Harris spoke on the administration’s efforts to reduce gun violence to commemorate the National Gun Violence Awareness day. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The University of Washington’s (UW) graduation ceremony had no commencement speech this year after United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona canceled his appearance due to the ongoing strike of UW researchers and scientists.

“Given the ongoing strike by graduate and postdoctoral researchers at the University of Washington, Secretary Cardona would not cross the picket line to give the commencement address,” said a spokesperson from the Education Secretary’s Office. “We respect the collective bargaining process and hope the parties can reach a resolution soon.”

UW researchers, scientists go on strike

Around 2,400 scientists, engineers, and post-doctoral researchers have been on strike since June 7 after failing to reach a negotiation over pay increases with the university.

They claim the university continues to delay negotiations. The post-graduate workers held a rally to charge the university for using unfair labor practices in their bargaining.

The current collective bargaining agreement expired on January 31.

A statement from the UW disagrees with the claims that their bargaining practices are illegal and say they continue to negotiate in good faith.

“UW Postdocs and Research Scientists are valued members of our University community, and each provides different but important contributions to our university research mission,” a University of Washington spokesperson said in a statement. “We are discouraged by a decision to authorize a strike starting June 7 while we are in the midst of good-faith negotiations supported by Public Employment Relations Commission appointed mediators.”

Discovery leads UW scientists to better understand earthquake threat

The Office of the Education Secretary did want to congratulate the students graduating despite not speaking at the ceremony.

“We congratulate the University of Washington Class of 2023 and their families on this big accomplishment. We are proud of you and wish you continued success,” the Education Secretary spokesperson said.

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US Secretary of Education cancels speech at UW graduation