The summary below includes information and links about some of the major rights, protections and benefits that we have won through contract negotiations with UW since 2004. View the entire current contract here.
In addition to making concrete improvements in the real, day-to-day lives of ASEs, these victories help improve the quality of education and research at UW by ensuring stable working conditions for ASEs, who carry out more than half of the face-to-face instruction to tens of thousands of UW undergraduates each year and do the bulk of the work that propels UW’s world-renowned, cutting-edge research programs. These improvements also make UW more accessible to women, working families, students of color and international ASEs
What’s more, the grievance procedure—which ends in neutral, binding arbitration—makes these rights enforceable. The Union has a strong track record of assisting ASEs and resolving problems successfully, usually quickly and informally. If you are having a problem with your employment as an ASE, contact the Union for help.
As a direct result of Academic Student Employees mobilizing and speaking out about how stagnant compensation has hurt competitiveness in recruiting the best and the brightest to come to UW, the University has agreed to adopt a ground-breaking new concept in determining wage rates, designed to make our compensation more competitive with our peers. We were able to negotiate an agreement that maintains tuition and fee waivers for ASEs at their current rates/level, and guarantees wage increases for all ASEs as follows.
2012/2013: The University will provide a $50 lump sum payment to non-hourly ASEs in order to offset the cost of fee increases. This lump sum replaces the $50 fee-relief payments previously outlined in “Letter of Understanding G”, and transforms the quarterly pay-outs into a single, $50 payment.
2013/2014 – 2015/2016: The University has committed to a three year wage increase plan, specifically:
- “Regular” Salary Schedule Departments: Salaries will increase to match the median of ASE wages at peer institutions. This will result in a minimum 12.5% increase (4% per year), or higher depending on the median salary for Global Challenge1 Institutions.
- “Variable” Schedule Departments: Salaries will increase a minimum of 6% (2% per year) over the life of the agreement. Moreover, when/if “regular” schedule department salaries meet/exceed “variable” department salaries, “variable” pay salaries will increase by the higher amount. The agreement also preserves the right of departments to increase salaries above the minimum 2%.
- Hourly Employees: All wage rates will increase by 6% (2% per year). The agreement preserves the right of individual hiring units to establish rates and increases above the minimum.
In advance of hiring, you should receive an appointment notification letter describing your dates of employment, workload/hours expectation, pay and benefits. When sufficient funding is available, your appointment should be for an academic year or longer (differences in course load between academic quarters or the need to spread available support among students [e.g. 3 students get two quarters each] are legitimate reasons to offer less than a full academic year).
This notification is your most important form of job security – once you accept an appointment, that job, or an equivalent job or compensation, is then guaranteed under the contract! If your section is canceled or your PI says that s/he can’t fund your RA position after you have accepted an appointment, for example, UW must either reassign you to another equivalent position, or pay you anyway. UW must also provide a job description detailing your specific assigned duties so that the expectations of your position are clear.
Increased Childcare Benefits
The contract provides quarterly childcare support for ASEs who do not receive awards from the campus Childcare Assistance Program. As of July 1, 2012, eligible ASEs will receive $600 per quarter for childcare expenses, and the University will provide up to $35,000 in total awards. In 2013 this will increase to $650 per quarter (and $37,500 in total awards), and in 2014 this will increase to $700 per quarter ($40,000 in total awards). Click here for instructions on how to apply for this benefit.
In addition ASEs have access to the University’s Sick Child Care Services for mildly sick children, which enables ASEs to avoid a disruption to their work commitments due to a sick child. Under this program, ASEs pay a one-time $5 registration fee and then the University covers the service after that. For more information, visit the Sick Child Care Services page on the UW website. ASEs also may use up to two days per year in paid leave for childcare emergencies.
Contractually-Guaranteed Resident and Non-Resident Tuition Waivers
As tuition and mandatory student fees have continue to increase significantly, the Union has maintained important tuition waiver programs for ASEs. Graduate students with 50%+ appointments Research, Teaching or Staff Assistants receive a full waiver of tuition/fees (not including the SAF, IMA and Building Fees). In addition, the contract ensures that the University cannot impose mandatory new fees on ASEs with waivers (see recent updates about the arbitrator’s ruling that the University cannot require 50% ASEs to pay for the SFR and Universal U-Pass fees here and here).
Improved Health Care Benefits
While healthcare premium costs have increased dramatically in recent years, the Union has not only bargained improved benefits but has also ensured that graduate ASEs with a 50% appointment do not pay premiums for their own coverage and increased the amount of these ASEs’ dependent premiums paid by UW to 65%. Plan improvements include: decreasing the annual out-of-pocket maximum; a 50% increase to the annual dental benefit; increased preventive coverage; and implementation of a mail-order prescription drug program that allows ASEs to save as much as 67% on out-of-pocket costs per order.
You can see the details of the Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan (GAIP) at the following University website: http://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/benefits/insure/gaip/index.html.
The contract ensures that open hire ASE positions that are not filled by eligible applicants within a department or hiring unit are posted to the UW Hires website. The central website provides all ASEs equal access to employment opportunities on campus.
To find open positions, go to the website and select “Academic Student Employee” as your search category.
While ASEs do not work enough hours to qualify for the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Union has negotiated an equivalent benefit. Under the contract, an ASE with a 50% FTE appointment for the academic year can take up to one quarter (12 weeks) of unpaid Leave for Family Medical reasons (childbirth, care of a family member, personal illness and/or disability, or adoption) but still retain paid Health Insurance benefits from UW. ASEs with a 50% academic year appointment can also take up to 7 days of paid leave for the same reasons.
While most employers limit the way in which employees can address instances of discrimination or sexual harassment, the contract includes a unique set of protections. ASEs have the right to address these instances through the University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office (UCIRO), through neutral third party arbitration under our grievance procedure, and through State and Federal agencies.
The contract ensures ASE access to UW parking programs and services on the same basis as full-time staff, including but not limited to individual commuter tickets and quarterly parking permits. For more information on ASE access to parking services, go to the Parking Services website.
Before bargaining the first contract, ASEs had no guaranteed vacation time off (e.g. to visit family overseas, travel, etc.) during their appointments. Vacation and the amount of vacation were determined at the discretion of the department or supervisor and as a result many ASEs did not receive time off. The contract establishes that ASEs with 50% or greater FTE appointments are guaranteed at least one week of vacation time off per quarter (during the academic quarter breaks or as mutually agreed upon with your supervisor) without a reduction in pay or benefits.
ASE Access to Tax-deferred Retirement Savings Program
The contract ensures ASE access to the University’s Voluntary Investment Program (VIP), a tax-deferred retirement savings program, operating under Section 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). For details on the program and how to enroll, visit the VIP page on the UW website.
The contract includes strong workload protections as well as mechanisms for addressing concerns about maintaining quality in your work assignment. The contract provides that you have the right to work with your supervisor if your appointment is changed in some way that negatively affects your ability to maintain excellence (e.g. enrollment increases, or an increase in volume of assignments or grading responsibilities). Moreover, any work duties, training, prep time, required meetings, or other required work (including work that occurs outside the academic term) must count toward your workload. If you are a 50% FTE appointment you can protect yourself from having to work for more than 220 hours of work per quarter. Hourly employees cannot be required to work unpaid hours.
Over the years, ASEs have successfully fought against unreasonable workload expectations through collective bargaining and the grievance procedure (see some examples here). If you or your co-workers think you have workload problems, contact the Union for help.