Today we continued negotiating over “non-economic” issues. We began by going through some of our union’s requests for information in greater detail, and then the UW Administration presented what they characterized as “most” of the proposals they will bring on non-economic issues,.  These (explained in more detail below) proposed changes to Articles 4 (Appointment and Reappointment Notification and Job Description), 6 (Discipline and Dismissal), 8 (Grievance Procedure), 10 (Holidays), 13 (Job Posting), 29 (Union Security), and 31 (Vacation).  In addition, UW Admin proposed striking Memoranda and Letters of Understanding that had been previously negotiated and are part of the current CBA: Overpayment of Health Insurance Premium, Regularly Scheduled Arbitrations, Job Titles and Classifications, Immigration Status and Work Authorization, GAIP 2015-2018 Implementation, HR/P and Union Security, Advisory Committee on Hourly Wages, Lump Sum Payments, and HR/P Transition.  We passed our counter-proposal on Union Rights (Article 28) based on their last proposal.

We also had additional conversation about release time for the Union’s bargaining committee, in which we challenged the University’s refusal to honor their commitment to release ASEs from their full appointments for spring quarter to do the work of bargaining.  We pointed out that this was not only creating significant disparities (unpaid labor for ASEs on the bargaining committee), but also slowed the bargaining process.

Detail of UW Admin Proposals:

  • Article 16 (Leaves).  UW rejected our proposal to provide family medical leave for ASEs as per the new law passed by the Washington Legislature in 2017, and instead communicated that they would be willing to re-visit this at a later date of implementation.  They proposed implementation of Initiative 1433 (Sick and Safe Leave), which was passed by Washington voters in 2016.  However, they claimed that the UW is exempt from the recently enacted Seattle ordinance regarding Safe and Sick leave
  • Article 8 (Grievance Procedure). Proposed to lengthen grievance timelines by months and to strike the MOU regarding quarterly standing arbitration dates that has served as the only impetus for timely handling of grievances from ASEs for the past three years. Issues ASEs have recently resolved through the grievance procedure — including grievances on international student rights, grossly excessive workload, safety and anti-harassment, discrimination against fee-based students, appointments being unduly reclassified at lower rates to avoid granting ASEs health insurance and tuition waivers, and more — have only been resolved on the eve of a standing arbitration that the UW now wants to avoid.  UW also proposed a mandatory first step in filing of grievances (the step of the process held at the department level) that further extends the timelines for handling them. In many of the grievances we have processed in the past three years, we have skipped this step knowing that a harassing or hostile department chair would not be receptive to hearing our arguments, and would force targeted ASEs to unnecessarily endure further emotional duress. The UW acknowledged verbally — but did not actually include in their proposal — that there were some issues that the the first step was inappropriate for.
  • Micro-Aggressions.  UW first proposed and then withdrew a proposal to eliminate the MOU on Micro-Aggressions.  When asked they did not articulate any reason as to why they were proposing to strike the mutually agreed-upon definition of micro-aggressions that we had bargained in our last negotiations.  They also communicated that the representatives from UW Admin who were at the table had no information or ability to make decisions about that proposal.
  • Article 6 (Discipline and Dismissal).  UW is proposing changes to the process for hearing disciplinary cases.  They introduced language that places restrictions on how union representatives can participate in disciplinary meetings for ASEs, explicitly removing the right of an ASE to have a union rep speak on their behalf.
  • Article 4 (Appointment Letters).  UW is proposing a new condition for being able to vacate an appointment offer (namely that “an enrollment standard” has not been reached).

UAW Local 4121 members continue to give strong testimony in support of our proposals:

  • An ASE from environmental and occupational health spoke to the importance of union orientations and adequately informing ASEs of their rights early on in the process.  As an international student, this ASE has experienced numerous instances of overt harassment and retaliation, including a PI returning grant funds that had been accepted and that the ASE had put substantial work into acquiring.
  • ASEs from Biology, iSchool, and Anthropology spoke on egregious incidents of discrimination and harassment that departments have not adequately addressed. In particular, these ASEs gave compelling accounts of the insufficiencies of current departmental diversity committees and processes. For instance, an ASE from Biology noted that while faculty in the department were generally receptive to ASEs’ calls for improvement on equity issues, the committee was often taken over by faculty and didn’t have “teeth” to enforce implementation of proposed changes. An ASE from Anthropology told stories of multiple issues that had been raised but simply escalated because they were not handled well at the outset.  He also reiterated the importance of our proposals’ intent to focus on prevention and developing improved department and University climate overall, rather than merely punishing individual bad actors.  An Administrator in the iSchool contacted one of our bargaining committee members to ask what could be done to provide better support and protection for underrepresented ASEs.
  • Admin stated that implementing an Equity Committee structure with accountability measures in every department would be nearly impossible.

UW reiterated that they are continuing to work on a counter proposal to our non-discrimination and harassment proposal that could be provided by the next session.