Dear Academic Student Employee:
Welcome back for the academic year!While classes don’t begin for a few more weeks, we’ve now officially commenced the employment period for Fall quarter.  As such it is an appropriate time to welcome you back (or welcome you anew) for 2011-12, a year which promises to be full of opportunities to continue our struggle for fair conditions as Academic Student Employees doing critical work at UW.

This quarter we are continuing ongoing campaign to stop the trend of mandatory student fee increases weakening our overall compensation as ASEs.  As you might have seen on your tuition statement the University is implementing new mandatory fees this year: the Student Facilities Renovation Fee (SFR), the Universal UPASS, and the Bothell Field Fee.  While the University clearly has the right to create new mandatory student fees, we believe our collective bargaining agreement – which says that tuition and fee waivers for half-time ASEs “will be maintained at their current rates/level” – prohibits UW from imposing the cost of these new fees on ASEs as a condition of employment.  Yesterday we filed a grievance to contest this contract violation.

Since many members have contacted us in recent weeks about the universal UPASS, we wanted to say a little more about that fee in particular.  As many of you know, the UPASS for years was a voluntary fee – if you decided to keep and use your UPASS, you paid the fee; if you did not keep it, you did not pay.  The UW Regents gave final approval to change the fee to a student-wide mandatory fee in the interest of holding down the cost and retaining the UPASS as a premier transit program.  We applaud the motives behind the universal UPASS – in fact, we worked alongside student government leaders over the summer to preserve King County public transit by creating a temporary vehicle tax to backfill the revenue lost by a regressive tax system.  However, UW seems to have simply ignored our collective bargaining agreement in imposing the cost of such fees on us as employees.

It’s significant that the administration has not attempted to impose a required UPASS fee on other employees at UW, only ASEs.  Historically we’ve had to assert many times that our status as students can’t be used to justify circumventing our collective bargaining rights as employees – this is another such instance in which we’ll have to do the same.

Please stay tuned for more updates in the coming days – this is one of several new issues confronting us at the beginning of the year and we will be providing periodic updates.  And don’t hesitate to contact us if you have further thoughts/questions.

In solidarity,

UAW Local 4121 Executive Board

David Parsons
Jessica Pikul
Evette Jasper
Dylan Mayer
Lei Cheng
Jean Dinh
Toni Ferro
Garrett Strain
Phil Harding