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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 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.

Negotiations Recap for February 25, 2015

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

Childcare Discussion

Amy Hawkins, Director of WorkLife and Childcare Access, provided an overview of current benefits and discussions around childcare at the UW. UW currently has four onsite programs with large wait-lists. Other benefits include priority access to Puget Sound Bright Horizons centers, but UW recognizes the need to expand childcare access and options. UW also informed the union that Virginia Mason will be ending its TLC sick child care service in March, and that the University is searching for viable alternatives.

UW is currently researching various potential short-term solutions to increase childcare access this year, including nanny-share and babysitter options. UW is also exploring long-term solutions such as building another childcare center on or near campus.

CareLink Discussion

In response to UAW's proposal for ASEs to be eligible for CareLink, Amy Hawkins spoke about the program. CareLink is an advisory program available to UW employees eligible for Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) benefits.

While CareLink's primary focus is counseling services, other components include 30 minutes of free legal or financial consultation over the phone, childcare and eldercare referral, and departmental trainings and workshops. Such trainings are often contracted through an outside organization and are topical, rather than customized for specific situations at UW.

UW Proposals

Grievance Procedure – UW proposed language to support UAW's goal of a more efficient grievance process. UW proposed accelerating what is currently Step 2 (involving the Dean of the Graduate School or designee) to occur at Step 1, and adding to Step 2 the option for mediation, a non-binding service whereby a third party helps to facilitate understanding. UW's language would allow the parties to skip Step One or Two upon mutual agreement.

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is scheduled for February 26.