We’re writing with an update on our negotiations with UW as well as more upcoming opportunities to strengthen our ability to win a fair fourth contract for Academic Student Employees (ASEs).

First, we want to thank everyone who has participated in our contract campaign actions so far – on campus, in the community, in the media, and in Olympia – all of which have helped highlight the important links between our working conditions as ASEs and maintaining the quality of teaching and research at UW.

The University approached last year’s negotiations by proposing aggressive takeaways (such as weakening our workload protections and appointment security and eliminating variable pay rates). This year, at our first bargaining session and in subsequent responses to our outstanding requests for information, UW has indicated that they don’t plan to propose similar takeaways. We believe this is a testament to the level of recent member engagement and mobilization, as well as to the increased level of public awareness about the critical importance of our work as ASEs.

While this represents a better start to negotiations, UW hasn’t yet signaled movement toward our initial goals. Instead they’re suggesting that the potential impacts of state budget cuts will make it difficult for them to know what to bargain. They also pointed out that they have to take a close look at the GAIP health insurance program because it has become more expensive.

While we acknowledge the difficult state budget situation, it’s important to remember that:

  1. Proposed solutions to the higher education budget crisis are likely to disproportionately harm Academic Student Employees. If mandatory tuition/fees continue to increase, a typical ASE will be paying nearly 8% of her/his salary for fees each year by the end of this biennium. Through collective bargaining, UW should be proactive about investing in our critical workforce under these difficult circumstances;
  2. UW has not yet recovered any of the money its broker overpaid to our GAIP health insurance carrier over the last several years. Doing so could infuse several million dollars into the plan and put less pressure on state/federal money.

For these reasons it’s important that we remain vigilant and continue to increase our efforts to protect access and quality at UW.

Many have shown interest in holding a visible demonstration on campus in support of this campaign, so we’re calling for an action on Wednesday, April 6 in conjunction with the week of action in Olympia. In our mobilization meeting last Friday (March 18th), activists participated in the planning process and committed to turn out other members.

Please save April 6th on your calendar so you can help make it a successful event.

We expect to meet with UW for bargaining again early in Spring Quarter and will provide further updates at that point. If you have further questions for us or would like to get more involved in the campaign, please contact us.

In Solidarity,

UAW Local 4121 Bargaining Committee
David Parsons (English)
Jessica Pikul (Chemistry)
Evette Jasper (Education)
Dylan Mayer (Philosophy)
Lei Cheng (Mechanical Engineering)
Jean Dinh (Medicinal Chemistry)
Toni Ferro (Human Centered Design and Engineering)
Garrett Strain (Odegaard Writing & Research Center)
Phil Harding (Neurobiology and Behavior)