Contract Ratification FAQ

 

 

What is the contract ratification vote?

The contract ratification vote is when the members of the union democratically determine whether or not to accept the terms of the agreement that has been tentatively agreed to by the university and the union’s elected bargaining committee.

 

Why is it important to participate?

Huge participation is critical because the university will pay close attention to this vote. When a strong majority of ASEs vote to ratify the contract, the university knows union members are willing to protect and enforce the rights and benefits guaranteed under the contract.

 

Why should I vote Yes in the contract ratification vote?

The tentative agreement is a very good one that includes a number of improvements to the existing contract. The improvements only go into effect if members vote yes to approve the new contract. Voting yes guarantees that the the terms become a new, fully-enforceable collective bargaining agreement for the next 3 years.

 

What happens if the result of the vote is No (not to ratify the contract)?    

If a majority of voters vote No, the offer from the university would not be approved as a new contract.  We would then return to negotiations and would certainly attempt to reproduce the terms we won on April 30; however the likelihood is that we would not reach the same deal without significant additional mobilization.

 

Why did the university change its positions in the final days of bargaining?

Every action by the union membership had a direct impact on the university’s positions and the positive outcome of the agreement. Thousands of ASEs mobilized over the course of the campaign, through signing on to initial demands, taking action on wages, micro-aggressions, health care, fees, voting to authorize a strike, and pushing back against the university’s threatening letter during the strike vote.  All this – plus support from students, staff and faculty – called the question for UW: either agree to a fair contract (that includes improved protections for workplace discrimination, fair wages and fees, and improved transparency in healthcare) or face further actions including the possibility of a campus-wide work stoppage.

 

In the final days of bargaining the university changed its position on a number of issues. Importantly, the university agreed that they could not unilaterally impose new fees during the life of the agreement.  If students impose any new fees the university would have to bargain over them. In addition, the university agreed to waive the building fee, giving ASEs a full tuition waiver for the first time ever and protecting ASEs from the rising costs of the building fee.

 

This significant shift was also accompanied by their commitment to raise the minimum wage for hourly ASEs, strengthen health care while maintaining $0 premiums, agree to stronger protections against micro-aggressions and a more inclusive campus environment (e.g. all-gender bathrooms and lactation facilities), and improve child care subsidies.

 

How did the bargaining committee decide to recommend this agreement to a vote?

On the final day of bargaining, the members of the bargaining committee discussed the university’s final offer in detail, and then presented the offer to the nearly 100 members assembled downstairs at Condon Hall. The committee and members agreed that the offer was a good one, prompting the committee to communicate to UW that we would tentatively agree to the offer pending a vote by the full membership.

 

When will the changes in this contract go into effect?  

The contract goes into effect as soon as it is ratified by UAW members.

 

Once this contract is in effect, how much will I pay in fees?

Fee amounts differ a little bit by department and so we’ve put together a table to help answer this question.  See the table here.

 

How does this contract affect wages and fees this summer?

Fees over the summer may go up slightly for those ASEs who must register for credits or don’t use their U-Pass and who must register for credits.  The SFR is $12 per credit in the summer and the U-Pass is $76. However any increases will be due at approximately the same time as the wage increases that will go into effect on July 1, 2015.  For more details see the table here.

 

Why did we agree to allow the SFR and U-Pass to be mandatory?

In pushing for fee waivers the bargaining committee weighed membership input (reinforced during department meetings that took place in the final week of bargaining) that asked for our demands to consider impacts on overall compensation: wages plus waivers.  The Building Fee is part of tuition and thus has increased at a far more rapid rate than other fees; waiving it is an important step in reducing the out-of-pocket expenses for most ASEs. The agreement as a whole reduces fees for ASEs with 50% FTE appointments over the life of the agreement, protection from the rising costs of the tuition, as well as wage increases for all members.

 

As for the SFR and U-Pass, the university made clear that since those fees were “student imposed” (that is, voted on by students before being approved by the Board of Regents) they wanted to deal with them differently from other fees imposed by the Regents or the Legislature or some other body.  We agreed to the SFR and U-Pass with the understanding that: 1) in the future, student approved fees couldn’t be imposed without bargaining; 2) ASEs would have the opportunity to influence the creation of “student imposed” fees in the future; 3) the U-Pass is used by almost 90% of ASEs already, and in fact incentivizes public transit; 4) the overall cost of fees with a full Building Fee waiver would go down over the life of the agreement (even for those who don’t use their U-Pass); 5) the university agreed to pay $150 one-time lump sum in the first year of the agreement to offset any increased expenses; 6) compensation will increase as well over the life of the agreement (24% compounded for base rate departments) while health insurance premiums will remain at $0.

 

What is a student-imposed fee?

A fee that students approve (typically through two consecutive-year votes of both bodies of student government: GPSS and ASUW) prior to final approval by The Board of Regents.

 

My big concern was that under this new contract the university would be able to implement new fees outside of the normal bargaining cycle. Is that still part of this contract?    

No. In the final day of bargaining the university changed their proposal to say that only new student imposed fees would apply to ASEs and the impacts of these fees would be bargained. This means that any new fees the university imposes without student approval (for example, the international student fee) would be automatically waived for 50% FTE ASEs.