Thank you again to everyone who participated in last week’s rally and march to Gerberding Hall.  The hundreds who came out sent a strong message about how our bargaining agenda is integrally connected to our efforts to maintaining access and quality at UW.

Check out our video of the action here:

Bargaining Update

In our most recent bargaining session with the University yesterday, we spent more time discussing our fee waiver and health insurance proposals.

Our bargaining committee highlighted the growing impact of un-waived fees on Academic Student Employee compensation.  We pointed out that, as the University’s recent legislative budget requests show, UW will increasingly lose its competitive edge in recruiting/retaining ASEs.  A look at our compensation relative to peer institutions in the Global Challenge States shows that, if the University does nothing to address this problem, we’ll quickly be further behind our peers – especially since 7 of the 11 Global Challenge peer institutions are finding ways to improve ASE compensation even in the midst of the current economic climate.

We also continued to emphasize that, beyond institutional competitiveness, this issue affects the everyday lives of critical employees who will be experiencing a growing pay cut each year as mandatory fees continue to rise.  While the University’s bargaining team has expressed an increasing recognition of the fee problem for ASEs, they remain hesitant to commit to solutions on behalf of the institution.

The University also finally provided us with costing information on our health insurance proposal.  As part of their costing explanation, they reiterated that they’re projecting an increase to the cost of maintaining the current GAIP plan, to the tune of $1.4 million.  While their team continued not to propose cuts to our plan to cover that deficit, they did posit that any improvements to the plan would add to that cost.  They also asserted that other campus employees are paying an increased share of their premiums.  However, given UW’s history of overpaying our premiums over the last ten years, and contributing a high proportion of costs to insurance companies’ profits rather than claims, it would be particularly outrageous if UW cited cost alone as a basis for refusing to move toward agreement on our proposal.

We’ve been doing a lot to raise the profile of our issues to the University community, and between now and the expiration date of our contract (April 30th) we’ll clearly need to do more.  Already this is having an effect: the University’s chief negotiator pointed out that we’re coming across “loud and clear” on our issues.

Again, thanks to everyone who participated in the action on April 6th – forward this video to your friends.  We’ll stay in touch, let us know if you have questions.

– UAW 4121 Bargaining Committee