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United Auto Workers Contract Negotiation Updates

United Auto Workers Local 4121 (UAW) represents University of Washington (UW) research assistants, teaching assistants, readers, graders, and tutors, known collectively as academic student employees (ASEs). UAW and UW have entered negotiations for a successor agreement to the 2012-2015 collective bargaining agreement, which expires on April 30, 2015.

Peter Denis
Assistant Vice President, Labor Relations (Lead Negotiator)
Rebecca Aanerud
Associate Dean, UW Graduate School
Banks Evans
Assistant Director, Labor Relations
Marilyn Gray
Assistant Director, Fellowships and Awards, Graduate School
A.J. Hartman
Communications Specialist, Labor Relations
Jennifer Mallahan
HR Specialist, Labor Relations
Kevin Mihata
Associate Dean for Educational Programs, College of Arts and Sciences
Linda Nelson
Director of Finance and Administration, College of Arts and Sciences
Helene Obradovich
Director, UW Graduate School
Lynn Perry
Senior HR Consultant, UW Human Resources

Negotiations Recap for March 18, 2015

This recap details the 11th session for renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW and UAW.

UW Proposals

Grievance Procedure – UW accepted UAW's proposal to make Step One of the grievance procedure optional, and accepted UAW's proposed enumeration of required grievance contents.

UW maintained its proposed notion of allowing the parties to request optional grievance mediation if settlement is not reached at Step Two before advancing to arbitration.

Arbitration Hearing Pilot – UW proposed a pilot of the union's idea to establish standing arbitration hearings, whereby hearings would be scheduled for November of 2015 and March and July of 2016.

UW's proposal would allow the parties to expedite the proceedings by mutual agreement, and memorialized the parties' intent to include in each of these hearings any grievance that was moved to arbitration at least 90 days prior to the hearing.

Duration – UW proposed a three-year contract term, to expire on April 30, 2018.

UAW Proposals

Appointment and Reappointment Notification – UAW maintained its proposed expansion of the ASE job description to include a list of required tasks with corresponding time estimates, and the curricular purpose of the assignment when applicable.

Discipline or Dismissal – UAW proposed allowing ASEs who wish to request a conference with their supervisor and the union regarding a corrective action to do so within 21 days of its issuance, and that notice of any corrective action be provided to the union and the affected ASE simultaneously.

UAW also proposed that for ASEs who are placed on administrative leave, an investigation begin within one day of the ASE being notified and conclude within 10 days.

Leaves of Absence – UAW maintained its proposal for ASEs to receive 90 days of paid leave and a guarantee of reinstatement in the same or equivalent position upon return from leaves, and maintained its proposal for to extend such provisions to hourly ASEs.

UAW also proposed allowing for ASEs to request leaves of absence for safety reasons, and withdrew its proposal for ASEs to qualify for up to six months of unpaid leave per year. UAW struck UW's proposed language outlining that personal holiday must be used in whole day increments.

Micro-aggressions – UAW maintained its original proposal on micro-aggressions and added several new provisions, including a requirement that UW conclude applicable training within 12 months of contract implementation, maintain records of departmental compliance, and advertise available resources.

UAW's new language would direct grievances related to micro-aggressions to the Graduate School, and require the parties to meet four times per year to evaluate progress on the goal of eliminating micro-aggressions against ASEs.

Bathroom Equity – UAW supplemented its original proposal on bathroom equity with UW's proposals that the parties meet twice yearly to discuss applicable plans and that the University publish online the location of every all-gender bathroom on campus.

Academic Excellence – UAW maintained its original proposal on academic excellence, and relocated into this provision its proposed requirement that UW publish and provide ASEs with policy statements related to hiring, evaluation, and assignment of work.

Union-Management Committee – UAW maintained UW's proposed deletions to outdated contract language.

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is scheduled for March 19.


Negotiations Recap for March 12, 2015

This recap details the 10th session for renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW and UAW.

Discussions: Undocumented Graduate Students and Micro-aggressions

Several subject matter experts attended bargaining from across the University to help facilitate conversations on the topics of undocumented graduate students and micro-aggressions.

Undocumented Graduate Students

Cynthia Morales, Director of GO-MAP (Graduate Opportunities & Minority Achievement Program), attended bargaining in response to several union questions related to undocumented graduate students. GO-MAP works on recruitment and outreach to undergraduate students of color and other underrepresented groups nationally who are interested in pursuing graduate school.

UW is in the early stages of addressing issues surrounding undocumented graduate students, as policies on undocumented undergraduate students are more common. GO-MAP has focused on creating a safe space for undocumented graduate students, and is currently working on informational materials and focus groups to help departments better understand the issues and federal immigration policies.

Micro-aggressions

A panel of representatives from across the University, including the Ombud's Office, the Risk Management/Title IX Office, the Violence Prevention and Response Program, and Campus HR Operations, attended bargaining to participate in a discussion on micro-aggressions.

Union Testimonials – In support of its proposals to curb and prevent micro-aggressions UAW recounted several instances of conduct to illustrate the characteristics and impact of micro-aggressions, and explained that most cases occur between ASEs with faculty not intervening. UAW emphasized its desire to have a mechanism for reporting such issues.

Existing Mechanisms – Panelists noted that many of the examples cited by the union as examples of "micro-aggression" would likely be actionable under existing policies for reporting, investigating, and resolving complaints of sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and other forms of discrimination.

Panelists recognized the power dynamic that exists between ASEs and faculty, but underscored the importance of reporting such instances and utilizing the mechanisms that have been established to address these very problems. UAW acknowledged that several of these examples were handled through the grievance process.

Implementation – When asked how other universities address the issue of micro-aggressions, the union reported difficultly finding information. UW expressed alignment with UAW's underlying concerns, while noting that the scope of the union contract is somewhat limited to the student employment relationship.

In support of continuing the dialogue and disseminating these concerns, UW suggested the parties invite several UW administrators to a future meeting who could better speak to this issue in the context of an academic career path.

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is scheduled for March 18.


Negotiations Recap for March 11, 2015

This recap details the ninth session for renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW and UAW.

UW Proposals

UW delivered a series of proposals and responses addressing provisions throughout the collective bargaining agreement, proposing current contract language for several articles. UW's proposals also included:

Appointment and Reappointment Notification – UW proposed that the parties convene a union management committee meeting to discuss the union's proposed expansion of the ASE job description to include a list of required tasks with corresponding time estimates, and the curricular purpose of the assignment when applicable.

Discipline or Dismissal – UW proposed language aimed at clarifying and streamlining the corrective action process, including requiring ASEs who wish to request a conference with their supervisor and the union regarding a corrective action to do so within five calendar days of its issuance.

Leave Without Pay for Reasons of Faith or Conscience – UW proposed clarifications to UAW's proposal, such that ASEs would be eligible for up to two workdays of leave without pay per calendar year for reason of faith or conscience, to which they could apply personal holiday (in whole day increments) or vacation leave. Per WAC 82-56, such requests could only be denied if the employee's absence would create undue hardship or if the employee is necessary to maintain public safety.

Union Management Committee – UW proposed deletions to outdated contract language.

Micro-aggressions – UW proposed incorporating the union's proposed definition of micro-aggressions into an MOU, and that the parties meet twice yearly to discuss plans and evaluate progress on the joint goal of eliminating micro-aggressions against ASEs as previously defined.

Bathroom Equity – UW proposed memorializing the parties' commitment to ensuring that ASEs have adequate access to all-gender bathrooms, and that the parties meet twice yearly to discuss plans and actions in support of this goal. UW also proposed language committing the University to publish online the location of every all-gender bathroom on campus.

UAW Proposals

Childcare – UAW changed its previous proposal that sick child care be provided to all ASEs for a $5 one-time enrollment fee and proposed that sick child care services be provided at no cost to ASEs. UAW also proposed that any ASE receiving a subsidy through the UW Child Care Assistance program that is less than the amount provided to eligible ASEs through the contract be automatically paid the difference.

UAW committed to clarify the language it proposed, as further discussion revealed that such language would unintentionally make ASEs eligible to collect both the UW Child Care Assistance subsidy and the maximum contractual benefit, which the union proposed be increased from $700 per quarter to $1500.

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is scheduled for March 12.