We met with members of the University’s bargaining team again yesterday. As you know, UW made significant movement at the end of last week by agreeing to absorb a projected $1.9 million in health insurance premium increases to maintain our current benefit levels for next year. We also agreed to extend the contract in the interest of continuing our efforts to make progress on other priority issues.

During our meeting time this week, we’ve spent time discussing the funding of tuition and fee waivers. UW has consistently cited cost and the uncertain budget climate as a basis for declining our proposal for fee waivers, and we are looking into whether there are creative ways for them to relieve the burden of fee increases on Academic Student Employees. However, the University’s team has now introduced a new roadblock, asserting that they now believe there are policy complications to waiving fees for ASEs paid on grants and contracts. While we do not believe there is any prohibition on the University’s ability to waive fees for any ASE, we intend to make a good-faith effort to understand their concerns.

We do find it frustrating, though, that the University would wait to reveal this new feature of their bargaining position at this late hour in negotiations. Fee waivers, as you know, have been one of our core issues since the beginning of negotiations, and we requested information in February that would have helped us assess how tuition and fees can be waived for ASEs on grants and contracts. UW never provided this information. We have reiterated our request so that we can assess their newly articulated concerns.

We’ll provide further updates as we have them – please stay tuned, so we can keep you apprised of the situation, and as always we’re happy to follow up if you have further questions.

In Solidarity,

UAW 4121 Bargaining Committee