Today marked the date we agreed upon with the University during our first bargaining session to make all initial proposals for our new contract. We brought proposals on Wages, Tuition & Fee Waivers, and Health Insurance to finish up all of our initial proposals.  However, the University (a) proposed significant takeaways from our current terms and conditions (including eliminating the building fee waiver we negotiated in our last round of bargaining and proposing that ASEs start to pay more for health care) and (b) was not ready to make any proposals on Wages or Health Insurance (other than that ASEs should have to start paying more, see below).  Moreover, University representatives also indicated that for the next three weeks they would not likely have full decision making authority (due to the President’s travel schedule among other things) a departure from their commitments at the beginning of bargaining.

During the morning portion of today’s session, we presented a number of counter-proposals to items the University brought last week:

  • Article 8: Grievance Procedure. We proposed moving the language on standing arbitrations currently in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) into Article 8.
  • Article 13: Job Posting. We largely accepted UW’s minimal proposals of clarifying the number and source of job posting websites.
  • Article 16: Leaves. We maintained our proposals to increase the number and availability of family and sick and safe leaves, and added language the the University would meet with us to bargain over any changes that might occur in the law that would exceed the contract.
  • Article 29: Union Security. We proposed moving the language on information the UW provides to us each pay period from the MOU where it currently exists into Article 29.
  • MOU on Immigration Status and Job Security and MOU on Job Titles. Last week, UW proposed eliminating these MOUs. We countered today by proposing that the dates in each simply be updated.  

We impressed to the University that if they insisted on eroding our rights as they have in their proposals on the grievance procedure, that we would insist on enforcing those rights by striking, and would propose eliminating the article prohibiting strike actions during the life of the contract. We also impressed that if they insisted on eroding our rights to representation in disciplinary cases as they have in their proposals on discipline and dismissal, we would propose eliminating their right to take disciplinary action, and would propose eliminating the article that enshrines management rights.

The University also provided a counter to our proposal on Article 19: Anti-Discrimination. The changes they proposed were generally agreeable — including slightly changed proposals on adding anti-retaliation language, as well as adding the language from the Microaggressions MOU into the article. However, they did not include or respond to our proposals on adding strong interim measures and remedies for issues of harassment, or creating departmental equity committees with structured accountability. When we asked why they were not proposing any language on mandated sexual harassment trainings, despite indicating last week that they were working on it, they said that it was still in the developmental phase. They reported that they hoped to have a counter proposal to us by next Thursday’s bargaining session, but would not commit to that.

Also in the morning, we presented our initial proposals on Fee and Tuition Waivers, Wages, and Health Insurance. We proposed that the fee and tuition waiver and wages articles should ensure equitable, stable, competitive, and transparent pay and benefits for all ASEs that take into account the high cost of living in Seattle and the high value ASEs’ work provides for the University. We further proposed a number of improvements to GAIP, including 100% coverage for dependents; increased coverage for mental health services; full coverage for trans-affirming services; and lowered costs for dental, vision, and prescriptions.

A representative from the insurance broker presented some documentation of utilization data from the past three coverage years. After lunch, admin indicated that they were not prepared to make proposals on Wages or Health Insurance, but that they plan to propose that ASEs pay for part of our health insurance premiums. They also made their initial proposal on Article 7: Fee and Tuition Waivers, in which they proposed mandating the building fee — in other words, a de facto pay decrease of more than $300 per quarter for the average ASE. We bargained a waiver for the building fee during our last round of negotiations, and have proposed a full fee waiver during this round.