Over a hundred of our members were present at today’s bargaining negotiations, and our members voted to initiate a Strike Authorization Vote, beginning Wednesday, April 18, no later than 9am and to conclude by no later than Tuesday, April 24, 11:59pm. More information is available on this FAQ.
Today over 100 of our union members came to our first major economic bargaining session, in which we presented our economic proposal for the next contract. We demanded:
- No new fees
- No new healthcare costs
- A major base pay rate increase to address the fact that over 80% of our members are rent burdened (paying over 30% of income on rent). If ASEs can barely afford to live in Seattle, then we definitely can’t research, teach, and learn to our fullest potential.
- Additional yearly pay increases tied to cost of living increases in Seattle
You can read the full proposal here.
Last week, UW advertised this bargaining session as a chance to ask questions about their economic proposals for ASEs, which include a 0% wage increase and over $1400 per year in new fees and healthcare costs. UW Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration, Jeff Scott, gave a presentation mostly focused on the millions of dollars of debt the UW has taken on in recent years to fund new building projects, and their uncertainty of securing more credit. At least 9 times we asked why the university couldn’t afford to give us a raise, and we were told it wasn’t a question that he could answer and that he was not in charge of the budget.
Then why did UW invite him to explain the Universities finances? While over 100 had to sit through the presentation?? University Administration continues to rely on budgeting models that push the burden onto those who can least afford it — including the 100+ laundry workers whose jobs Admin is threatening to eliminate, and including ASEs who provide substantial instruction and research for the University. This backwards system can’t be allowed to continue!
This session fits the pattern that we’ve seen the start of bargaining in February. The UW negotiation team has in several major ways stalled, obfuscated and made absurd proposals. Wages and healthcare are critically important; so are fair negotiation practices.
Here some of the UW’s other major breaches:
- Our long-standing contract language provides that 5 of our elected bargaining committee members would be paid to work on contract negotiations. This is mutually agreed upon contract language which the UW is now refusing to respect. This case is going to arbitration and we are confident we can win it, but this tactic is meant to decrease our resources when we need them most.
- The UW is required to respond to any and all requests for information (RFI) regarding their budget numbers and other data. They have so far provided very little information in response to our request. In brief, UW claims that they don’t have the money to give us raises and refuses to show us the documentation of their budget, which they are legally required to share with us!!
- On the first day of bargaining, UW agreed to certain deadlines for specific parts of our contract; last week they unilaterally decided these deadlines were just “goals,” which they did not have to comply with. This is why it has taken so long to begin economic negotiations.
UW Administration is not bargaining fairly with us as equals, they are stalling on our equity proposals, and they are pushing appalling economic proposals. To instead win the critical improvements we’ve proposed, we will clearly need to take further action. More updates about the strike authorization vote to follow.
By the way, the lead UW negotiators will be receiving a raise next year! Let’s fight to get ours too!
Monica Cortes Viharo