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United Auto Workers Contract Negotiation 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 May 4, 2012

Tentative Agreement Reached

The UW and UAW reached a tentative final agreement for a three-year contract on the evening of Friday, May 4, 2012. The agreement provides for the following new provisions to the existing collective bargaining agreement:


Key Leadership Initiative - Competitive Wages: The University will align ASE base salaries with the median base salary of UW's Global Challenge States peer group. ASEs will receive annual wage increases, beginning July 1, 2013, for the duration of the three-year contract as follows:

  • Salaried, Non-variable: ASEs on a non-variable wage scale will receive an annual percentage wage increase toward matching the Global Challenge States median by July 1, 2015, or a four percent raise, whichever is greater each year.
  • Salaried, Variable: ASEs on a variable wage scale that are already paid above the Global Challenge States median will receive an annual wage increase of at least two percent, or any departmental raise, whichever is greater.
  • Hourly: All ASEs on an hourly wage scale will receive a two percent raise each year.

One-time Pay Supplement: All salaried ASEs holding an eligible appointment during the 2012/2013 academic year will receive a $50 lump sum payment.

Insurance Programs

UW agreed to preserve the current GAIP plan for the coming year, absorbing the rising premium costs, and will do so each subsequent year for the duration of the contract, accounting for up to a six percent annual inflation increase.


UW agreed to increase its commitment to ASE childcare expenses by $10,000 for fiscal year 2013, and will increase this by $2,500 each subsequent year for the duration of the contract.

UW and UAW will recommend this agreement to their respective constituents for approval and ratification.

Negotiations Recap for April 30, 2012

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

UAW Response

UAW began by expressing its appreciation for UW's leadership in proposing the Global Challenge States competitive wage initiative.

UAW pointed out that many ASEs on a variable rate wage schedule would not receive additional benefits from UW aligning ASE average wages with those of its Global Challenge States peer institutions, because their pay already exceeds this average.

UAW Counter-Proposal

UAW presented revisions to UW's proposed changes to Article 32:
Article 32 - Wages: UAW proposed that the Global Challenge initiative align the average of the overall compensation package instead of the average wages.
UAW proposed that each year, for the duration of the contract, all ASE variable rates be increased by 4.8 percent, and that ASE hourly rates be increased by 9.8 percent.
UAW also proposed removing the mandatory Building Fee for all non-hourly ASEs.
UAW also further amended its proposals on childcare, health insurance, and "Academic Excellence":
Article 5 - Childcare: UAW proposed that UW increase its yearly commitment to ASE childcare by $10,000 for the 2013 fiscal year, and $2,500 for each subsequent year during the contract.
Article 12 - Insurance Programs: UAW proposed that UW increase ASE dependent coverage by five percent per year during the contract. UAW also proposed that the UW assume coverage of all potential benefits of the impending Affordable Care Act this year.
"Academic Excellence": UAW revised this clause to require that UW provide UAW with annual reports detailing classroom metrics, and that UW meet regularly with UAW to discuss the topics of online learning and class sizes.

UW Response

UW presented a revision of its former proposal to UAW.

Key Leadership Initiative

UW proposed a revised, more inclusive version of its Key Leadership Initiative to address UAW's concerns.

This revised proposal maintained bringing the average base wage of ASEs at the UW into alignment with that of its peer institutions in the Global Challenge States by 2015, and still provided for annual raises up to that point, whereupon the wages would be fixed to this average.

The revised proposal provided additional benefits for ASEs working on variable rate or hourly wage scales.

Variable Rate
ASEs on variable rate wage schedules would receive a two percent annual increase, to account for any who will not incur a pay raise through the Global Challenge States standard because their rates already exceed that amount.
The base rate for ASEs on an hourly wage scale, $9.75 per hour, would increase by two percent each year.

UW declined UAW's proposal to use overall compensation as a core metric, and instead upheld its proposal to use base salary.

UW revised responses to UAW proposals:
Article 5 - Childcare
UW agreed to increase its annual commitment to ASE childcare expenses by $10,000 for fiscal year 2013, and would increase this by $2,500 each subsequent year for the following two years.
Article 7 - Fee and Tuition Waivers
UW would remain committed to maintain the tuition waiver benefit for ASEs, absorbing any increase in tuition.
Article 12 - Insurance Programs
UW agreed to preserve the current GAIP plan for the coming year, absorbing the rising cost of premiums. UW would do so for the remainder of the contract, assuming a six percent annual inflation increase.
Academic Excellence
UW would formally recognize the importance of ASEs, but not commit to specific levels of funding for instructional services based on previous years.

Further Dialogue

UAW requested clarification on UW's resistance to its amended "Academic Excellence" proposal.

UW pointed out that its proposed financial commitments to UAW wages and healthcare are a material demonstration of its continued investment in ASEs. UW noted that what is taught and how it is taught is too subjective to be bargained in a contract and on a broad scale.

UAW expressed concern over UW declining its proposal to include sexual reassignment coverage in the GAIP plan.

UW explained that while it is compassionate for this particular issue, it cannot currently provide any expansions to the GAIP plan, including this provision, due to the high cost of simply maintaining GAIP amidst rising premiums.

Today was the expiration date of the existing contract, but UW and UAW agreed to extend negotiations until 6 p.m. on May 1, 2012.

State law provides for the existing contract to remain in effect for up to one year following expiration, while both parties continue work to reach an agreement.

Negotiations Recap for April 27, 2012

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

UW Management Accounting and Analysis Presentation

To begin, UW Management Accounting and Analysis presented a detailed overview of how payroll load rates are calculated, explaining that they are based on benefit and salary cost estimates for the upcoming year.

At the end of each fiscal year, UW Management Accounting and Analysis compares the estimated costs against the actual costs. The difference, known as a true-up, is then incorporated in subsequent years' rate calculations.

UAW asked for clarification on how true-ups are calculated and applied, and asked whether the same load rate was used for all budget lines.

UW Management Accounting and Analysis explained that true-ups are based on actual expenditures versus what the UW collected throughout the load process. The difference is determined at the end of the year, and applied in a future year.

UW Management Accounting and Analysis noted that load rates are established based on employee type, and applied accordingly to each group. The federal Department of Health and Human Services annually reviews and negotiates these rates with the UW.

UW Proposal

UW presented its proposal for a new multi-year contract ending on April 30, 2016.

Key Leadership Initiative
UW put forth an innovative competitive wage clause based upon UAW's earlier wage proposal, which would bring the average base salary of ASEs at the UW into alignment with that of its peer institutions in the Global Challenge States.
The UW and UAW would engage and work collaboratively with a third party to establish a market median value for ASE base salaries in the Global Challenge States. Following this, ASEs would receive annual wage increases beginning in 2013 that would align with this market median by 2015.

UW Response

Next, UW replied to UAW's primary proposals.

Article 5 - Childcare
UW proposed maintaining the existing program as it is currently configured and funded, and declined the additional proposed changes.
Article 7 - Fee and Tuition Waivers
UW committed to maintaining the current levels of tuition waivers, absorbing any tuition increases, instead of expanding access to waivers. UW declined the proposed waiver of mandatory fees.
Article 12 - Insurance Programs
UW pledged to preserve the current GAIP plan for the coming year, absorbing the rising cost of premiums, and to extend this coverage for each subsequent year of the agreement, provided that inflation does not exceed six percent annually.
In light of the cost to maintain GAIP, UW declined any expansions to coverage.
Article 16 - Leaves of Absence
UW agreed to maintain the existing paid leave plan allowing for seven (four-hour) days, and declined expanding the paid leave allowance to 12 (20-hour) weeks.
Article 32 - Wages
UW explained that the Key Leadership Initiative represents its comprehensive response to UAW's wage proposal.
"Academic Excellence"
UW recognized the vast importance of ASEs, but declined to commit to preserving overall funding levels for ASE instructional services.

Further Dialogue

UAW requested clarification on UW's response to the "Academic Excellence" provision.

UW explained that it must reserve the freedom to allocate funds as necessary in order to best serve the University's academic and instructional needs where and when they arise. As such, UW is not interested in binding the University to a predetermined threshold.

UAW voiced concern regarding the omission of fee waivers from UW's response.

UW noted that mandatory fees for ASEs are not uncommon, including among peer institutions. UW explained that the proposed wage increases represent a significant counterbalance to any fees.

UAW committed to reviewing UW's proposal and responses at length, and will provide a reply promptly.

The next UW/UAW bargaining session is scheduled for April 30, 2012.

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.

Negotiations Recap for April 18, 2012

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

New Proposals

UAW began by presenting amendments to Articles 7 and 32 of the existing contract:

Article 7 - Fee and Tuition Waivers
UAW proposed an expansion to fee and tuition waivers, whereby ASEs working as little as 25 percent of a full-time equivalent, whether salaried or hourly, would be exempt from paying all campus-wide mandatory tuition and fees.
Article 32 - Wages
UAW proposed pegging ASE wages to the average compensation of institutions in the Global Challenge States by July 1, 2015.
Until then, UAW proposed annual ASE wage increases that would match whichever is greatest each year between faculty raises, departmental raises, or a larger undetermined percentage raise toward the Global Challenge goal.

Continuing Discussion

UAW expressed that increasing ASE wages will make UW more attractive to prospective graduate students, citing institutions such as Cornell, USC, and Stanford as offering higher compensation.

UW recognized that the economic downturn at the state level has impacted employees across the University, and articulated the need to work toward a plan that will benefit and recognize all employees when the economy eventually improves.

Q Center Presentation

Leaders from the UW Q Center delivered a presentation on health insurance issues for transgender ASEs to promote parity between the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) and the Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP) on transgender coverage.

UW voiced its appreciation for the Q Center mission and its effective presentation. UW agreed that such provisions are important for ASEs, and that the success with SHIP in promoting transgender equality establishes a sound foundation for trying to align GAIP.

UW Benefits will attend the April 23 and 25 meetings to address all proposed reform to ASE benefits.

The next UW/UAW bargaining session is scheduled for April 20.

Negotiations Recap for April 12, 2012

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

New Proposals

UAW began by presenting four provisions, including amendments to Articles 5, 12, and 16 of the existing contract:

Article 5 - Childcare
UAW proposed that UW maintain ASE eligibility for the "Emergency Back-Up" childcare program and pay all associated fees, and requested a $150 increase in quarterly childcare compensation paid to ASEs.
Article 12 - Insurance programs
UAW proposed an expansive overhaul of the existing Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan (GAIP), including free coverage for ASE dependents and expanded criteria for who constitutes a dependent, unlimited maximum benefits for ASEs, and a $1,500 annual out-of-pocket cap for ASEs choosing non-network services, for which there is currently no maximum.
UAW also proposed hiring consultants to help form a new "Health Care Task Force" to research and solicit other insurance carrier options.
Article 16 - Leaves of Absence
UAW proposed increasing the ASE paid leave allowance from seven (four-hour) days to 12 (20-hour) weeks.
UAW also put forth a provision entitled "Academic Excellence," whereby UW would guarantee that funding for ASEs remain at or above the 2011/2012 level.

UW Response

UW reiterated that its ability to make changes involving health benefits is linked to the pending outcome of federal healthcare reform, and the continued uncertainty at the national level makes an immediate restructuring challenging. Nonetheless, UW committed to reviewing the insurance-related proposals with the UW Benefits, and agreed to study the other provisions as well.

Further Dialogue

UAW requested clarity on the UW's budgetary structure and resource allocation, specifically pertaining to funding for childcare.

UW explained that individual departments allocate resources provided by a central budget. Funding for certain ASE programs, including the ASE childcare program and the $50,000 ASE fee abatement program, comes directly from this central budget.

The next UW/UAW bargaining session is scheduled for April 18.

Negotiations Recap for March 30, 2012

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

Scope of Negotiations

The UAW represents close to 4,300 graduate and undergraduate academic student employees (ASEs) performing a variety of work at the UW as research assistants, teaching assistants, tutors, readers, and graders. This initial session served to establish ground rules for the negotiations to come, and allowed the union to share its leading priorities.

UW noted that while there is significant uncertainty surrounding the state budget and federal healthcare reform, it is eager to continue the work that has been undertaken during the 2010 and 2011 renewals with respect to matters of mutual interest.

UAW Proposal

Consistent with the themes it has presented during prior renewals, the UAW seeks to secure the following broad areas of interest:

Increased wages and an expansion of the ASE tuition and fee waiver.
Expanded health benefits to cover extraordinary healthcare costs, while maintaining adequate coverage for health insurance services. The union also requests that the UW maximize the efficiency of administering its health plan, and that addressing work-related injuries and illnesses remains a priority.
Family Benefits
Increased health coverage for ASE dependents, enhanced family medical leave benefits, and expanded childcare access and subsidies.
Job Quality
Assurance that workplace quality for ASEs will not be affected by changes in staffing or resource allocation.

UW pointed out that any changes to health benefits will inevitably be influenced by the current ambiguity around the future of federal healthcare reform, but agreed to look into each of these provisions and their implications.

The next UW/UAW bargaining session is scheduled for April 12.