Quick History of CSA/District 925
by Cindy Cole
In the early 1970s a group of Office Workers realized that the University of Washington Administration did not represent them at the then Higher Education Personnel Board. HEPB has since been incorporated into the Washington Personnel Resources Board (WPRB). They were the invisible and ignored part of the University Community when the UW went to the Washington State Legislature. Doris Walton became the first President of the Classified Staff Association and office workers organized meetings, lobby days and trips to the HEPB to advocate for Classified Staff. A monthly newsletter was started and Bylaws written and approved.
At about the same time on the other side of the country Karen Nussbaum was an office worker at Harvard University. She also felt that the office workers were the invisible, forgotten part of the University. One day a student came into the office as she was sitting at her desk and said “Is anybody here?” That was one of the instances that pushed her to start the Association of Working Women, Nine to Five. She and her fellow workers did not understand unions or how to organize one but it became apparent to them after a number of years that it was the way to go.
John Sweeney of Service Employees International Union was interested in an office workers union. He got together with the Association of Working Women and decided to fund a national organizing campaign for an office workers union under the name of District 925. The University of Washington was a natural choice because of the Classified Staff Association that was already in place. Karen Krachunis was the President of the CSA in the late 70’s and early 80’s. She was very enthused about the prospect of greater power through the backing of an International Union and the money to organize even more co-workers. In 1981 an organizing campaign to unionize CSA was won and in 1982 an affiliation agreement was signed between the Classified Staff Association and District 925, SEIU. The University of Washington challenged the vote and manner of the election and therefore a second vote was taken and won.
The first major campaign of the new union CSA/District 925 was for Comparable Worth in pay at the Washington State Legislature. The Equity campaign was done in conjunction with several other public sector unions. There was a tremendous amount research and contact work put into this campaign by the new staff of the small union but also by the members themselves. In 1984 Comparable Worth was passed by the State Legislature to bring pay equity to classifications with similar skill levels. The compensation was spread out over several years but it was considered a great victory, not only for the increase in pay but also for the acknowledgement of the worth of office work.
In the 1980s and 1990’s the Classified Staff Association continued to grow through accretions of new classifications. A union shop campaign was launched in 1985 with a vote in 1986. CSA lost that vote. In the early 1990’s Service Employees stopped subsidizing the local and CSA District 925 was able to stand on its own. Members continued to lobby the Legislature and the WPRB. In the early 1990’s CSA District 925 was able to get a law at the legislature passed so that CSA members could opt out of the WPRB and come under the Public Employees Relations Commission. PERC allowed a simple majority vote for an Agency Shop. In 1993 CSA launched an organizing campaign for an Agency Shop and to bring the CSA under the jurisdiction of PERC. In the spring of 1994 the campaign was successful.
In 2000 it was becoming increasingly apparent that the idea of a national local was not working as it had first been envisioned. To better serve the members of CSA District 925 and the members of the other offices in other parts of the country, it was decided to take a vote of the membership to break up District 925. CSA District 925 merged with other public sector locals into SEIU Local 925 in July of 2001.
© 2002 Cindy Cole
These articles were written in Spring 2002. For problems or questions contact James Gregory.