Today the University brought presenters from different parts of campus to further the discussion about our bargaining proposals.  To begin, Cynthia Morales from GO-MAP discussed the resources for underrepresented grad populations at UW.  We discussed the need to improve resources for all underrepresented student communities, and in particular how writing/tutoring centers at all three UW campuses were key in this.

Next a panel of University representatives assembled to discuss our proposal on microaggressions.  This included representatives from Human Resources, the Ombuds Office, Safe Campus, and the Title 9 Office, in addition to representatives from Labor Relations.  Our two hour discussion with this panel included several components:

  • Stories of individual ASEs (identifying information redacted) who had experienced microaggressions, whether due to race, gender identity, sexual orientation, parental status, religion, ethnicity, or language.
  • Discussion of the need for policy language that makes the protection of ASEs unambiguous in the event that they file a grievance over microaggressions. This is especially important given that microaggressions do not always fall neatly into existing policy  definitions of harassment or discrimination.
  • Discussion of the need for training – including bystander training – that raises awareness of microaggressive behavior and explains how individuals can identify it and prevent it.
  • That enforcement of any protected right depends on creating a safe space for individuals to speak up, and that merely directing student employees to handle conflicts through conversations with supervisors or arms of the University administration does not sufficiently disrupt the power relationship in a way that promotes enforcement.
  • That the University has an interest in addressing and confronting this pattern of problems directly, in part because it needs to live up to its rhetoric of inclusion and equity, and in part because employees who are less productive as a result of feeling alienated cost the University money.

The University administrators present were both receptive and skeptical: They stated a commitment to an inclusive work environment while also articulating concern that this would not be an easy matter to solve in practical terms.  In response, we pointed out that the models for effective enforcement already exist elsewhere–including King County and the University of New Hampshire–and just need to be adopted to our context. We also reiterated our belief that the University of Washington should be a leader in this area.

The conversation ended with UW stating an interest in continuing to pursue this and bring other panelists to address this important concern.

Our next bargaining session will take place Wednesday, 3/18/15, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. in Condon 311. All members are encouraged to attend!  For a full list of bargaining dates and times please click see the union’s website or the union’s calendar.