Our negotiations with UW today took place in the wake of growing support from legislators (emerging out of membership contacts) and a successful action in Gerberding Hall. Yesterday (May 31st), nearly 70 UAW members took over the conference room of UW Interim President Phyllis Wise to demand a fair contract. (See the coverage in the Daily.) We agreed to end our peaceful demonstration at 5:00 p.m., after UW police announced their intention to arrest anyone who wouldn’t disperse voluntarily, but we communicated our commitment to return if UW fails to settle our contract. See photos below:

Academic Student Employees in attendance came from all corners of campus: health sciences, social sciences, natural and physical sciences, engineering, humanities, and tutoring centers. Undergraduate students from United Students Against Sweatshops also participated in solidarity. Representatives from our bargaining committee were joined by other members in speaking directly to UW administrators who visited us in the occupied space, pointing out that our contract issues are real problems that affect us as individuals and affect the institution’s ability to remain competitive and provide a quality, accessible education.

In addition, members who attended our membership meeting Tuesday generated a resolution urging the bargaining committee to hold a strike authorization vote before the end of instruction this quarter. Members passed this resolution as a way to establish potential next steps if we do not reach a fair agreement (See details).

Building on this tremendous mobilization and participation of members across campus, we had increasingly constructive dialogue today with the University about our entire set of bargaining proposals (compensation/fees, health care, childcare/family-friendly issues, and academic excellence). The UW bargaining committee is continuing to cite the budget crisis as its primary obstacle to reaching agreement, but showed more openness than before to explore creative solutions to our differences in negotiations.

Based on our discussions today, to give both sides time to fully explore settlement options, we’ve agreed to a short contract extension through tomorrow (Thursday, June 2nd) at midnight. We’re inspired by members’ level of commitment and participation, and are hopeful that this will help convince UW to reach a fair agreement by June 2nd. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions, and thanks for everything you’re doing to move this campaign along.

In Solidarity,

UAW 4121 Bargaining Committee