One week after our historic strike on 5/15, the bargaining committee returned to the negotiating table, ready to keep pushing for a fair contract that meets our needs (proposal details below). The pressure we are creating and have already created through our campaign is causing UW Administration to scramble to further justify their position–particularly their refusal to waive fees–and they are becoming increasingly unclear, inconsistent and contradictory. Our mobilization, combined with new support from faculty, an endorsement from the Editorial Board of The Daily (the UW student newspaper), a fantastic unanimous resolution of support from the Seattle City Council, as well as broad support from other local, state, and international unions are signalling to UW Admins that their position is untenable to not just academic student employees, but the broader campus community and the city of Seattle at large.
While our next bargaining session will take place on May 29th, we are therefore holding department meetings and discussions to continue preparing for striking on June 2-15. Please be on the lookout for details to come soon about a mass member meeting on June 1.
Today we gave the mediator two package proposals on the remaining issues in bargaining. For more information about the status of all articles of the contract, check out the website here.
- Wages and Fees: We maintained our previous proposal on wages (3-6-6%) and proposed a remission of fees (Services and Activities, IMA Bond, Facilities Renovation, and U-PASS) rather than a waiver, which means the services funded by the fees would continue to be funded, but by Central Admin and not on the backs of underpaid, overworked ASEs. This is in direct response to the University’s rhetoric regarding who should fund vital services on campus and situating these remittances of fee-based services as benefits of employment. The UW President and Provost have tried to make the case that a fee waiver would hurt non-ASEs, and that the fees couldn’t be waived because students have voted on them. Yet, they haven’t issued a credible statement as to why other fees that students have voted on (such as the Technology Fee) are in fact waived. Or why they believe that we shouldn’t have access to other services that are funded by other waived fees (such as the Building and Operating Fees). And so, while UW Administration reiterated today this basis for their opposition, they also attempted to say that there was an additional “statutory” problem with them waiving fees. We pressed them for more information, but also asked how they could resolve the two objections, OR argue that our proposal to remit the fees, rather than waive them, would not satisfy their stated objections in both cases. By the end of the day, they had less to say about their position. They also indicated that they are aware that ASEs are preparing to strike if an agreement is not reached.
- Healthcare and Childcare Subsidies: We made proposals on health insurance and childcare that were closely aligned with proposals they passed to us last bargaining session on 5/14 which constitute major wins on trans and mental healthcare (for more detailed information, check out the website here). Though the University Administration had indicated an interest in reaching agreement on these proposals, they changed their story today, instead communicating to us that University Admin is not willing to reach agreement unless these proposals were part of a full package with their wage and fees proposals — i.e., 2% wage increases and no movement on fees.
Monica Cortes Viharo