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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 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.

Negotiations Recap for March 4, 2015

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

Discussions: International Student Fee and Fee-based Programs

Sarah Hall, Assistant Vice Provost for the UW Office of Planning and Budgeting, attended bargaining to discuss the International Student Fee and the topic of ASEs in fee-based programs.

International Student Fee

UAW reiterated its view that the International Student Fee is discriminatory and suggested that it is a dangerous precedent, highlighting other universities where similar fees exceed $1,000 per year.

UW explained that the International Student Fee stemmed from concerns about providing adequate services to international students. UW described how the fee came in response to a dramatic increase in international student enrollment, which in turn increased the need for additional and more tailored services. In addition to supporting the increased volume of work involving compliance with visa requirements and federal laws, the fee aimed to support orientation as well as teaching and learning services.

The Board of Regents approved the fee with support from the UW's student government group, ASUW, although ASUW reversed its position some months later. UW pointed out this model of collecting fees in order to make possible certain services is not uncommon across the institution.

ASEs in Fee-based Programs

UAW raised concerns over a policy change whereby after June 30, 2015, departments employing TAs on state budgets who are matriculated in fee-based degree programs will no longer be subsidized from central funds. UAW voiced that by making the employing department cover the TA's full course fee payments, fewer ASEs enrolled in fee-based programs will be hired to work in programs relying on state-based tuition.

UW explained that the central funding that long subsidized these programs was a discrete budgetary decision that diverted potential funding from other areas, such as financial aid or facilities maintenance. UW explained that continuing to subsidize relatively few programs at the expense of other areas creates an inequity in itself, not to mention the many other state-based degree programs that received no subsidy.

UW Proposals

Childcare – UW proposed language updates reflecting the closure of the Virginia Mason TLC sick child care service and establishing that to the extent UW has an active contract for sick child care services, qualifying ASEs will be eligible to participate. UW also proposed deleting outdated language.

UAW Proposals

Job Titles and Classifications – UAW proposed increasing the minimum wage for hourly ASEs to $15 per hour, effective July 1, 2015.

UAW also proposed dividing several hourly ASE job classifications into distinct pay tiers, each providing for a 7.5% increase from the previous tier. UAW proposed that these employees advance to at least the next tier each year, and that hourly pay scale rates increase annually by at least the same percentage as GSSA appointments in the same department.

Non-Discrimination and Harassment – UAW proposed adding "gender expression or identity" to the contract's list of statuses protected from discrimination.

Tentative Agreement

Article 19: Non-Discrimination and Harassment – The parties tentatively agreed to UAW’s proposal to add "gender expression or identity" to the contract's list of statuses protected from discrimination.

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is scheduled for March 11.

Negotiations Recap for February 26, 2015

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

International Student Fee Discussion

Union Testimonials

UAW and several students provided testimonials opposing the International Student Fee. The union complained that the fee focuses on compliance with visa requirements and federal laws, but does not feel like it improves the lives of international students themselves.

UAW suggested that the fee is discriminatory, asserting that other fees at UW are socialized across all students or all union members. The union described a perception of unfairness when the fee applies to students from nearby places like British Columbia, while not applying to students from more geographically distant parts of the US.

Follow-up Discussion

UAW requested more information on the services supported by the fee. UW notified the union that it arranged for representatives from the UW's Office of Planning and Budgeting to attend the parties' upcoming bargaining session and provide further details regarding the fee.

UAW Proposals

Grievance Procedure – UAW proposed language to make Step One of the current grievance procedure optional, and to allow grievances to be filed to Step Two. UAW also proposed that the parties establish standing arbitration hearings during November, February, May, and August of each year of the contract, with the goal of consolidating and expediting hearings.

UAW withdrew its proposal for any missed deadline on the UW's part to automatically award the union's proposed remedy.

Unpaid Holidays for Reasons of Faith or Conscience – UAW proposed a memorandum to codify and supplement recently enacted legislation. UAW proposed that leave without pay be granted for up to two workdays per year for reason of faith or conscience, to which ASEs could apply paid leave in lieu of leave without pay.

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is scheduled for March 4.