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United Auto Workers Contract Negotation Updates

In June 2011, the University of Washington (UW) and the United Auto Workers Local 4121 (UAW) agreed on a renewal of the previous collective bargaining agreement, with some slight amendments. This agreement became effective on June 8, 2011, and expires on April 30, 2012. UAW represents UW research assistants, teaching assistants, readers, graders, and tutors, known collectively as academic student employees (ASEs).

The 2013-2015 collective bargaining agreement has been published to the Labor Relations website. View the 2013-2015 UAW Contract.

Peter Denis
Assistant Vice President, Labor Relations (Lead Negotiator)
Rebecca Aanerud
Associate Dean, UW Graduate School
Katy Dwyer
Executive Director, UW Benefits
Jessie Garcia
Assistant Vice President, Campus HR Operations
Gerry Grohs
Benefits Consultant, UW Benefits
A.J. Hartman
Communications Specialist, Labor Relations
Jennifer Mallahan
HR Specialist, Labor Relations
Shelley Middlebrooks
Executive Director, HR Compensation
Kevin Mihata
Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Linda Nelson
Director, College of Arts and Sciences
Helene Obradovich
Director, UW Graduate School
Lynn Perry
Senior HR Consultant, UW Human Resources

Negotiations Recap for April 25, 2012

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

UW Follow Up

UW began by thanking the Q Center for providing updated information on transgender ASEs, and presented new cost estimates for UAW's health benefits proposal based on the new data.

UW Benefits pointed out a dramatic reduction in the projected costs for sexual reassignment procedures in the revised cost estimates.

Parker, Smith & Feek addressed UAW's questions on differences in the claims pattern, the number of children covered, and the number of appointees between this plan year and past years.

The claims pattern fluctuation resulted from more efficient and timely claims processing by Lifewise, the insurance company that currently administers GAIP, which typically processes claims within 30 days. The previous plan administrator typically processed claims in 90 days.

Lifewise reports the specific number of dependent children per appointee, whereas the previous plan administrator was unable to report dependents in such detail. This increased number of covered children has not resulted in rate changes.

UW Benefits' research confirmed that the drop in the number of GAIP appointees is likely due to fewer ASEs being hired in the fall of 2011.

UAW Response

UAW expressed displeasure at the revised healthcare cost estimates, stating that the transgender coverage estimates still seem too high.

UW Benefits pointed out that the cost estimates contain two separate non-additive quotes regarding transgender coverage, one that matched the SHIP coverage and one that provided coverage in full.

UAW asked if there could be a third option representing a middle ground between the two.

UW Benefits replied that the cost estimates are a direct response to the questions UAW had asked in its data request, and that if a third option is requested, it is possible to investigate.

UAW expressed that UW Benefits' projections for the costs of providing unlimited lifetime benefits, removing preexisting condition exclusions, and administering GAIP as a whole, appear higher than the actual cost of each from past years.

Parker, Smith & Feek explained that past claims experience cannot be used to predict future claims risk, especially in light of the significant changes UAW has proposed. UW offered to follow up with the actuaries that calculated these estimates regarding their methodology.

Further Dialogue

UW Benefits confirmed that a representative from UW Financial Accounting will come to the next meeting to discuss the details of payroll load rates. UW promised to provide responses to UAW's overall proposal at the next meeting.

UW prefaced the next meeting by establishing that one of its defining priorities, in general and in bargaining, is to ensure that the University emerges from the recession in a way that benefits all of its employees.

The next UW/UAW bargaining session is scheduled for April 27.


Negotiations Recap for April 23, 2012

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

UW Benefits Presentation

UW Benefits and representatives from Parker, Smith & Feek, the insurance brokerage firm involved with GAIP, presented a detailed cost analysis in response to UAW's health insurance proposal.

The report established that if implemented, UAW's proposal would cost the UW approximately $9.4 million. This total does not account for the roughly $2 million extra that the UW must pay to simply maintain the existing ASE benefits package, as it faces a 16.9 percent increase in premiums.

UAW Response

UAW voiced its opinion that the cost estimate surrounding transgender coverage seemed too high.

UW Benefits responded that the calculations were based on information that the insurer had received from the Q Center previously.

UW Benefits pointed out that because the Q Center delivered its presentation on transgender coverage issues before the healthcare bargaining sessions, it has only just received the updated information from the presentation. UW Benefits expressed regret that the presentation date did not align with its presence, but offered to provide the Q Center's latest numbers to the insurer so that new costs can be calculated.

Further Dialogue

UAW requested details on how payroll load rates are calculated.

UW Benefits explained that UW Financial Accounting calculates the rates for fringe benefits to be charged to budgets during the upcoming year, which must be approved by the federal government prior to implementation.

UW Benefits offered to arrange for representatives to speak with UAW to address further details, which UAW accepted.

UAW noted differences in the pattern of claims, the number of appointees, and the number of children covered between this plan year and past years.

UW Benefits agreed to research these points and provide UAW with an answer at an upcoming bargaining session.

The next UW/UAW bargaining session is scheduled for April 25.


Negotiations Recap for April 20, 2012

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

Scope of Negotiations

UAW started by asking if UW had any proposals to submit, expressing that it takes the April 30 contract expiration date seriously.

UW replied that once UW Benefits has performed a cost analysis of UAW's proposals and presented its results to both bargaining teams, it will be prepared to offer an accurate and informed response to UAW's proposals.

UW voiced its confidence that if both sides embrace the collaborative bargaining approach that has benefited past negotiations between UW and UAW, bargaining should conclude in a timely and mutually satisfactory manner.

UAW stated that certain requests for information it submitted to the UW regarding details on its members have not yet been answered, and that some responses have been unsatisfactory.

UW apologized for any requests not yet fulfilled, and promised to continue compiling all requested information and to send it to UAW promptly. UW sought clarification on any responses deemed inadequate.

UAW cited specifically that personal information on ASE medical reports that it requested had been redacted, noting that this has presented a challenge to UAW's negotiations planning.

UW explained that typically any redactions to documents reflect the University's legal obligations to protect the privacy of students and employees through omitting confidential information, particularly with regard to medical information.

The next UW/UAW bargaining session is scheduled for April 23.