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Washington Federation of State Employees Contract Negotiation Updates

WFSE represents various employees across UW, including skilled trades, food services, custodial services, library services, and healthcare workers. The 2015-2017 collective bargaining agreement between the UW and WFSE expires on June 30, 2017. Contract negotiations are now underway to bargain a successor agreement for the 2017-2019 biennium.

Banks Evans
Assistant Director, UW Labor Relations (Lead Negotiator)
Josh Bakelaar
Materials & Logistics Director, Supply Chain Management
Nola Balch
HR Consultant, Medical Centers HR
Renni Bispham
HR Consultant, Campus HR Operations
Patti Colaizzo
Director, Organization Resources & Relations, Facilities Services
Cheryl Ewaldsen
Assistant Director, HR, Housing & Food Services
Damon Fetters
Director, Facilities Maintenance & Construction, Facilities Services
Stephanie Godwin-Austen
Assistant Director, UW Compensation
Lisa Hanna
Director, Employee Relations, Campus HR Operations
A.J. Hartman
Communications Specialist, UW Labor Relations
Pam Jorgensen
Administrative Director, Facilities & Engineering, Harborview Medical Center
Pranika Laing
Assistant Director, UW Labor Relations
Patrick Osby
HR Director, UW Libraries
Toby Purvis
Director, UWMC Environmental Services
Kathy Schell
Senior HR Consultant, Medical Centers HR
Walter Thurnhofer
Assistant Administrator, UWMC Administration
Gene Woodard
Director, Building Services, Facilities Services

Negotiations Recap for July 6, 2016 (WFSE-specific Session)

This recap summarizes the fifth session for the renewal of UW's collective bargaining agreement with WFSE for the 2017-19 contract term. This was the second WFSE-specific session, in addition to the three sessions to date that UW has negotiated with SEIU 925 and WFSE as a union coalition.

Synopsis

The unions' proposals to date would cost roughly $84.4 million over two years, according to UW's cost estimates. This does not include more traditional economic proposals, such as market adjustments, premiums, and general wage increases, which the unions have not yet delivered. While this meeting was scheduled as a WFSE-specific session, an SEIU 925 representative attended and delivered proposals applicable to the SEIU 925/WFSE coalition.

UW Proposals

UW delivered language specific to the WFSE contract:

Custodian Compensation – UW proposed consolidating the WFSE language on the infection control premium for medical center custodians and custodian lead assignments into the body of the contract.

Union Proposals

A representative from SEIU 925 attended this session, and proposals were delivered on behalf of the SEIU 925/WFSE coalition.

Holidays – The unions proposed that employees receive holiday pay according to the length of their shift (minimum eight hours), instead of the standard eight hours per holiday for full-time employees.

The unions rejected UW's proposals to clarify personal holiday by separating it from the state holidays as it is presented in other WFSE CBAs. The unions also declined UW's proposal to move language on faith/conscience leave into parts of the contracts that are more reflective of these leave types and organized in a manner that is consistent with other state employee collective bargaining agreements.

Resignation and Abandonment – The unions proposed to give employees 48 hours to withdraw a resignation (increased from the current 24 hours), and to exclude scheduled days off and holidays from this calculation. The unions also proposed increasing the timeline in which an employee could submit a written petition for reinstatement, from 10 days to 20 days.

Polygraph Testing – The unions rejected UW's proposal to remove redundant language, explaining their belief that it is cause for skepticism whenever the Employer proposes deleting contract language. To date, the unions have rejected all of UW's proposed language clean-up.

Classifications and Reclassification – The unions proposed allowing for requests to reclassify an employee to be based on a belief that their position is not adequately covered under the existing classification system, and that a classification needs to be newly-created or substantially revised.

The unions also proposed a 45 day notice requirement for both unions when UW creates, eliminates, or modifies class specifications, or reclassifies an occupied bargaining unit position into a non-bargaining unit position.

Next Steps

The next SEIU 925-specific bargaining session is scheduled for July 13, and the next SEIU 925 and WFSE coalition session scheduled for July 15. The next WFSE-specific session is scheduled for August 17.


Negotiations Recap for June 23, 2016 (SEIU 925-WFSE Coalition Session)

This recap summarizes the third session where SEIU 925 and WFSE negotiated as a coalition for the renewal of UW's collective bargaining agreements with each union for the 2017-19 contract term.

Synopsis

SEIU 925 and WFSE delivered additional proposals, primarily focused on training and education. UW delivered numerous initial proposals with a focus on harmonizing many provisions across the SEIU 925 and WFSE contracts, in line with the unions' goal of creating greater uniformity between the two contracts.

UW noted that some "give and take" comes with harmonizing elements of the two contracts, as well as some new benefits such as greater predictability for recently-appointed staff to use their vacation time, and an extended vacation leave pilot for Harborview employees. UW clarified that this represented its initial round of proposals, and should not be interpreted as UW declining the unions' opening series of proposals.

Union Coalition Proposals

SEIU 925 and WFSE delivered the following proposals as a coalition, intended to apply to both groups.

New Employee Orientation – The unions proposed replacing existing contract language with a broad commitment for UW to provide mandatory in-person orientation for all new employees.

Tuition Exemption – The unions proposed that SEIU 925- and WFSE-represented employees get free admission to all UW classes without any of the restrictions that apply to other UW employees. The proposal included free tuition for non-state funded courses and the ability to register for classes on the same timeline as students.

Education Support Funds – The unions proposed that UW provide $500 per employee per year for expenses such as books, magazines, and college courses.

Educational/Professional Leave – The unions proposed that all employees receive up to three days of paid release time per year for educational or professional leave.

Training Fund – The unions proposed that UW contribute $1 million per year to a fund that the unions administer jointly with the University, which would provide support for tuition and books in support of degree programs that qualify employees for positions at UW.

UW Proposals

UW delivered a series of initial proposals, including:

Management Rights – UW proposed uniform language and formatting for both contracts based on WFSE's general government contract.

Joint Labor-Management (JLM) – UW proposed uniform language for both contracts providing for quarterly JLM meetings and adhering to a consistent structure, and establishing that the unions are responsible for paying any travel or per diem expenses of employee representatives.

Contract Publication – UW proposed removing language on maintaining paper copies of the contract, given that UW has moved to publishing contracts on the Labor Relations website and that the unions commonly print paper copies for members anyway.

Union Activities – UW incorporated existing and new provisions into one article, which included:

  • Steward Jurisdictions and Time: UW proposed clarifications in support of greater uniformity regarding steward jurisdictions. UW also proposed that a record of steward work time spent on union activity be maintained, which UW and the union could discuss further if it is determined that an unreasonable amount of work time is being used for such activities.

  • Union Business Activities: UW proposed a more clear and uniform process around use of leave for participating in union business functions.

  • Use of State Resources: UW proposed language clarifying the existing expectation that state resources, including the UW email system, will not be used to conduct union business activities and will adhere to the expectations of the Executive Ethics Board.

  • Information Requests: UW proposed uniform language memorializing the unions' right to request certain information from the University.

Uniforms, Tools, and Equipment – UW proposed incorporating language modeled on other state contracts regarding employer-issued tools and equipment. The language speaks to UW repairing or replacing damaged equipment and reinforces employees' obligations to maintain and ultimately return tools and equipment.

Drug and Alcohol Free Workplace – UW proposed language memorializing the expectation that employees report to work unimpaired by alcohol or drugs, and in a condition fit to perform their assigned duties. Components included:

  • Possession: Employees may not use or possess alcohol, marijuana, or illegal drugs in UW vehicles, on agency premises, or on official business.

  • Prescriptions: If there is substantial likelihood that an employee's medication will affect job safety, they would need to notify their supervisor of these potential side effects.

  • Reasonable Suspicion Testing: UW could direct testing for alcohol, marijuana, or controlled substances when there is reason to suspect that usage of such substances may be adversely affecting the employee's job performance or could pose a danger to physical safety. Reasonable suspicion must be supported by specific and objective grounds.

  • Training: Training would be made available to all managers, supervisors, union stewards, and lead workers. Training would include the effects of drugs and alcohol in the workplace, behavioral symptoms of being affected by substances, and available rehabilitation services.

Performance Evaluation – UW proposed simplifying and harmonizing the performance evaluation language across contracts, creating a uniform process for both unions, and proposed that performance evaluations not be subject to grievance (currently elements of performance evaluations are grievable through Step 2 of the grievance procedure).

Corrective Action – UW proposed aligning language to current practice across both unions, including incorporating SEIU 925's contract language stating that informal coaching is not subject to grievance. UW proposed utilizing the existing SEIU 925 language regarding removal of formal counseling documents from an employee's personnel file after three years for both contracts.

Grievance Procedure – UW proposed several changes to harmonize the unions' contract language into one uniform grievance procedure, utilizing the timelines in the current SEIU 925 contract, and added language clarifying the process for utilizing a panel of arbitrators.

Holidays – UW proposed language and structural updates to clarify the use of personal holidays, and proposed relocating the provision on leave without pay for a reason of faith or conscience into a more appropriate article.

Vacations – UW proposed allowing for employees to use their vacation leave after six months of continuous employment, regardless of whether they are in a probationary period or not. This would enable certain employees whose probation is extended or who face another probationary period due to a job change to start using their vacation in a more timely manner.

Work Related Injury Leave – UW proposed language clarifying that employees on work related injury leave could use time loss compensation, leave payment, or both, but that the sum total cannot exceed the employee's regular salary.

Shared Leave – UW proposed a uniform statement memorializing employees' right to participate in the University's shared leave program.

Employee Leave Records – UW proposed removing language regarding departments making vacation and sick leave records available to employees, because this information is available to all employees online and universally accessible via Employee Self-Service.

Hours of Work and Overtime – UW proposed harmonizing several articles from both contracts into one uniform provision. UW proposed incorporating SEIU 925's language on alternative/flexible schedules, and proposed that overtime be calculated based on time worked as well as vacation time used, but that sick leave not count toward this calculation.

Appointments, Positions, and Hiring – UW proposed language allowing management to apply part of an employee's time served in a fixed duration appointment toward their probationary period if they transition from fixed duration to a permanent position without a break in service.

UW also proposed introducing a 12 month probationary period for certain job classes, including medical center custodians and power plant operating engineers, with the aim of building in more time focused on training.

In-Training Program – UW proposed introducing language to allow management to designate "in-training" positions or groups in accordance with a defined training program, which could include on-the-job training and courses conducted by an educational institution.

Trial Service – UW proposed a uniform six month trial service period for both contracts, and allowing an employee serving a trial service period to voluntarily revert to their former position within 15 days of the appointment (provided the position still exists, is funded, and is not committed to another employee).

Classification and Allocation – UW proposed harmonizing several provisions from both contracts into a uniform article on topics such as classification, reclassification, and allocation. UW adopted SEIU 925's existing requirement that UW provide 30 days' advance notice prior to creating, eliminating, or modifying a class specification.

Term of Agreement – UW proposed updating the contract term to reflect the 2017-2019 biennium.

Memoranda of Understanding – UW proposed deleting outdated language in several MOUs.

Harborview Extended Leave Program – UW proposed a pilot program for both contracts to address an issue that WFSE recently flagged as a priority. At management's discretion, Harborview employees could be granted an extended vacation leave ranging from three to six consecutive weeks, provided they have not taken such a leave in the four years prior.

Next Steps

The next WFSE-specific bargaining session is scheduled for July 6, and the next SEIU 925-specific bargaining session is scheduled for July 13. The next SEIU 925 and WFSE coalition session scheduled for July 15.


Negotiations Recap for June 22, 2016 (WFSE-specific Session)

This recap summarizes the third session for the renewal of UW's collective bargaining agreement with WFSE for the 2017-19 contract term. This was the first WFSE-specific session. The previous two sessions were negotiated with SEIU 925 and WFSE as a union coalition.

Synopsis

At the parties' first bargaining session specific to WFSE matters, the union delivered proposals to bolster employee involvement with the union at the local and state levels, as well as proposals to offset licensure costs and to address parking during suspended operations. UW proposed cleanups and housekeeping updates throughout the contract, as well as language to increase communication around licenses lapsing.

Union Proposals

Stewards in Training – WFSE proposed language to allow for a second steward to attend step two grievance meetings for training purposes, without loss of pay and subject to the operational needs of their department.

WFSE Council Leadership – WFSE proposed language on UW employees who are elected to be the statewide WFSE Council President or Vice President. UW would pay the employee during their term(s) to retain benefits, for which the union would reimburse UW, and afterward the employee could return to their position or job class. Vacation and sick leave accrual would continue during this time, but upon return to regular UW employment these balances would revert back to pre-absence levels.

Licensure and Certification – WFSE proposed that UW pay for the cost of obtaining and maintaining any license/certification that the UW requires employees to obtain after hire or maintain during employment.

Parking during Suspended Operations – WFSE proposed that UW parking be provided for employees designated as essential by their supervisor at each campus for which suspended operations have been declared.

UW Proposals

Language Cleanup – UW proposed cleanups to outdated language in several parts of the contract:

  • Custodian Compensation MOU: UW proposed deleting the MOU's dated language describing the program's initial implementation, and instead memorialize this provision in the contract's section on premiums.

  • Polygraph Testing: UW proposed deleting old language referencing the parties' commitment to comply with state law on polygraph testing, noting that UW is and will always be required to comply with state law.

UW made clear that it has no intention of changing its practices and legal obligations related to these provisions. Rather, it is an attempt at making the contract more up to date and easier to navigate.

Licensure and Certification – UW proposed a requirement for employees to notify management if their work-related license/certification expires or is restricted, revoked, or suspended. UW proposed that this notice occur within 24 hours of the lapse, or prior to the employee's next scheduled shift (whichever occurs first).

UW reinforced that this proposal is purely asking employees to inform management of such a lapse given the importance of up-to-date licensure, particularly in a healthcare or professional driver setting.

Job Classifications – UW proposed housekeeping updates to the contract's list of job classifications and pay table placements in Appendix I.

Next Steps

The next bargaining session will be with SEIU 925 and WFSE as a union coalition, and is scheduled for June 23.