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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 February 19, 2015

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

Union Proposals

Appointment and Reappointment Notification – UAW proposed expanding the contents required in an ASE's job description to include a list of required tasks with corresponding time estimates, and the curricular purpose of the assignment when applicable. UAW proposed a requirement that policies outlining the criteria and decision process governing ASE appointment, work, and evaluation be provided to ASEs and made publically available, and to require ASE input for changes to such policies.

Training – UAW proposed adding language to guarantee training related to any mentorship or supervisory work expected of an ASE, and, when applicable, to clarify a work assignment's role in the curriculum.

Workspace and Materials – UAW proposed expanding the list of services and resources that must be made accessible to ASEs to include necessary time with equipment to perform required research.

Academic Excellence – UAW proposed incorporating the parties' provision on academic excellence (Letter of Understanding H) into the main body of the contract, and proposed an avenue for ASEs to raise concerns regarding access to research equipment and facilities as well as alterations to ASE mentor or supervisory responsibilities.

UAW proposed that UW provide TAs with rationales for course enrollment limits and allow for TA input. UAW proposed that UW monitor the aggregate TA-to-undergraduate ratio, and work to maintain a ratio of 21 undergraduates per TA.

Health Benefits Discussion

UAW presented several questions related to GAIP, renewing and supplementing elements of the union's pending information requests.

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is scheduled for February 25.


Negotiations Recap for February 18, 2015

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

UW Responses

UW shared initial thoughts on several of the union's proposals, including:

International Student Fee – UW explained that the International Student Fee is an institution-wide initiative that affects populations well beyond UAW's membership, and that to change such a broad-based policy is likely outside of the parties' scope in contract negotiations. UW committed to bring more information to a future bargaining session.

Bathroom Equity and Lactation Facilities – UW expressed a philosophical agreement with the union's desire to make genderless bathrooms and lactation facilities as accessible as possible, but raised concern over the UAW contract's ability to enforce construction and building plans institution-wide. UW committed to bring more information to a future bargaining session.

Grievance Procedure – UW expressed concern over UAW's proposal for any missed deadline on the UW's part to automatically award the union's remedy, rather than the current practice of automatically advancing to the next step of the grievance procedure.

Union Proposals

Intellectual Property – UAW proposed a requirement that the UW notify ASEs of their right to consult with a union representative prior to deciding whether to consent to a policy relating to assignment of intellectual property.

UAW proposed eliminating language recognizing UW's right to change applicable policies in the University Handbook, and proposed to grant the union a position on any UW committee on intellectual property and commercialization issues.

Union Security – UAW proposed language updates surrounding the dues deduction authorization process as well as expansions to the employee data that is regularly reported to the union.

Union Request for Information

UAW delivered an extensive information request mirroring the themes presented in the union's list of initial bargaining demands, including information on hourly ASEs, fee waivers, micro-aggressions, and the Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP).

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is scheduled for February 19.


Negotiations Recap for January 29, 2015

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

Union Initial Proposals

UAW delivered several proposals, including:

Leaves of Absence – UAW proposed that ASEs receive 90 days of paid leave and up to six months of unpaid leave per year, with a guarantee of reinstatement in the same or equivalent position upon return. UAW proposed that such provisions be extended to hourly ASEs as well.

Childcare – UAW proposed that UW guarantee on-campus childcare services for all children of ASEs, and that UW increase the childcare subsidy for each eligible ASE from $700 per quarter (up to $40,000 union-wide) to $1,500 per quarter with no collective limit.

Tuition and Fees in Fee-based Programs – UAW proposed that ASEs enrolled in fee-based programs be subject to the same rate of tuition and fees and the same tuition waivers as those enrolled in state-supported programs.

International Student Fee – UAW proposed that UW eliminate the International Student Fee.

Grievance Procedure – UAW proposed that any failure on the part of UW to address a grievance within established time limits or respond to a grievance-related information request within seven days will automatically result in the grievance being resolved in the union's favor and will guarantee implementation of the union's requested remedy. Currently grievances that are not addressed within such time limits automatically advance to the next step of the grievance procedure.

Micro-aggressions – UAW proposed language requiring the UW to curb and prevent instances of micro-aggressions, defined as everyday exchanges that denigrate and exclude individuals based on their membership in a group or class of individuals.

UAW proposed a requirement that the UW provide training on micro-aggressions and inclusivity for incoming ASEs and faculty, as well as for existing ASEs, faculty, and staff as desired. UAW proposed that UW require such training for departments in which micro-aggressions have occurred.

Bathroom Equity – UAW proposed that UW guarantee that all ASE workplaces have access to all-gender bathrooms as well as equal access to gender-specific bathrooms.

Lactation Facilities – UAW proposed that UW guarantee ASEs safe, private, and clean lactation facilities, equipment, refrigeration, storage, and services.

Career and Job Placement Services – UAW proposed that the UW extend career and job placement services to all ASEs and ASE alumni. UAW proposed language to enable ASEs to create an Individual Development Plan with their faculty mentors or supervisors.

Debt Management and Individual Assistance Programs – UAW proposed extending access to UW Carelink employee assistance programs to ASEs, and ensuring that ASEs enrolled in fee-based programs have the same access to all forms of financial aid that are available to those enrolled in state-supported programs.

HR/Payroll Modernization Discussion

In response to UW's presentation on the upcoming HR/Payroll system transition, UAW voiced questions regarding how the academic calendar will be reconciled with the new system's biweekly payroll calendar based on actual time reporting. UW noted that the HR/P team is currently using ASE data to model the potential implications of this transition, and committed to providing the union with further details as they emerge. UW also explained its intent to utilize Workday to generate more robust data reporting that is standardized across unions.

Benefits Discussion

The parties discussed ways to characterize the GAIP plan benefits in an RFP as well as the context surrounding UAW's pending unfair labor practice allegation against the UW. UW committed to analyze and share with the union changes to plan benefits, and continue to work toward a mutually acceptable resolution.

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is scheduled for February 18.


Negotiations Recap for January 22, 2015

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

Benefits Discussion

Request for Proposals

UW Benefits and the UW insurance brokers Parker, Smith, and Feek delivered a draft request for proposals (RFP) regarding the Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP) for UAW to review. UAW delivered initial feedback and questions, and a meeting was set for the following week to continue the evaluation and discussion. UAW agreed to submit all comments by close of business on January 29 so the RFP can be finalized.

GAIP Utilization Report

UW presented UAW with an updated GAIP utilization report showing claims incurred since the beginning of the current plan year (October 1, 2014) paid through December 31, 2014. The plan's loss ratio is now at 99.5 percent, and an analysis of claims by service type showed increases in the in- and outpatient hospital, professional, and dental categories.

UW offered to send utilization reports to UAW on a monthly basis rather than quarterly, to which UAW agreed.

HR/Payroll Modernization Discussion

UW delivered a presentation presentation summarizing the scope and potential implications of UW's impending transition to a new HR/payroll (HR/P) system. Through the HR/Payroll Modernization project, the UW is replacing its 32-year-old payroll system with a modern HR/P system called Workday. Workday will offer a more uniform, streamlined, and reliable experience for employees across the University, and is planned to launch on December 20, 2015.

UW walked through key components of the new HR/P system, including more robust data tracking abilities, a biweekly pay cycle, and enhanced reporting of work, earnings, and accruals.

HR/P Memorandum of Agreement

UW proposed a memorandum of agreement highlighting the core elements of the transition to a new HR/P system based on what the parties know to date.

The language would memorialize the parties' mutual understanding of the anticipated impacts, while ensuring that discussions may resume if needed, and that no union will come away with a "better deal" than any other.

UAW Inclusivity Discussion

The parties further discussed some of the intricacies and goals underlying UAW's bargaining demands related to inclusivity, including mitigation of microaggressions, opposition to the International Student Fee, and expanded access to genderless bathrooms.

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is scheduled for January 29.


Negotiations Recap for December 5, 2014

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

UAW Initial Bargaining Demands

UAW put forth a list outlining its bargaining demands and priorities, structured around several themes for bargaining:

  • Compensation: UAW's demands included that the UW lead in compensation among peer institutions in the Global Challenge States, and that UW expand on the existing tuition and fee waivers for academic student employees (ASEs).
  • Job Classifications: UAW's demands included that UW redefine job classifications to ensure an accurate reflection of duties.
  • Health Care: UAW's demands included that UW integrate the union into health care decision making and plan administration, as well as evaluate all plan options for the Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP) and restructure the plan to drive down costs.
  • Inclusivity: UAW's demands included forming a process to address microaggressions campus-wide and opposing the International Student Fee.
  • Childcare: UAW's demands included improving access to childcare facilities for ASEs and increasing the existing ASE childcare subsidies.
  • Academic Quality: UAW's demands included incorporating the academic excellence language currently in one of the contract's appendices into the body of the contract itself.
  • Intellectual Property and Commercialization: UAW's demands included increasing resources available for ASEs wishing to commercialize their research or instructional materials.
  • Information Requests: UAW's demands included that UW respond to all union information requests within one week.
  • Job Placement: UAW's demands included extending job placement services to alumni.

UW Benefits Presentation

Representatives from the UW Benefits Office and the consultancy Parker, Smith, and Feek attended the bargaining session to discuss the administration and utilization of the GAIP plan, and to offer a variety of healthcare coverage options for consideration. UW Benefits also reviewed the effect of current federal and state regulation on GAIP benefits.

UW Benefits reported that claims this year were largely consistent with the prior year, but that utilization numbers decreased notably in October of 2014. UW is currently looking into why this could be, and committed to report its findings to UAW. UW expressed its interest in conducting a request for proposals (RFP) to evaluate current options in the student insurance marketplace, which UAW supported. UW has requested that Parker, Smith, and Feek perform the RFP, with input from the union.

Next Steps

The next UW-UAW bargaining session is currently being determined by the parties.