We are currently in negotiations with UW administration for a new contract with the University that will determine our working conditions for the next few years — on issues of compensation, workplace rights, campus climate, and more. The involvement and activism of every single union member is critical to bargaining success. Our ability to move administration on our core issues depends on whether the administration sees that we’re united and serious about our bargaining demands.
Our collective campaign depends on member participation, and getting yourself good information about the process is an important first step. For answers to frequently asked questions about the bargaining process and initial bargaining demands, please read on! You can also access more information, resources, and opportunities to take action at the ASE Bargaining Center.
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- What is the bargaining process?
- How are our bargaining proposals developed?
- What is the current status of our proposals?
- How can I get more involved?
- Why is it important to participate?
- When does bargaining take place?
- How are bargaining sessions set up? What are union caucuses?
- How can I join bargaining sessions and union caucuses? How do I join the Slack?
- How can I get help if I’m having trouble getting into the Slack?
- I don’t have any problems in my department — why should I care about bargaining?
- How can we address other issues that do not require modification of the collective bargaining agreement?
- I’m not getting membership emails – how can I get that fixed?
- Who should I contact if I have more questions?
What we win in our contract depends on our power as a union, which comes down to how unified we are and how credibly we demonstrate that unity to the university. We can think of the time between now and the contract expiration as a set of escalating majority actions demonstrating our unity and resolve.
Over the past several months, members have come together to drive this process in a number of ways: through bargaining surveys, membership meetings, organizing conversations, ratification of the initial demands, participating in working groups to develop demands, and more. We held our first bargaining session on March 12, and presented a set of demands developed by member workgroups coming out of the previous conversations and actions. Between now and the end of the contract (April 30), we will continue negotiating with admin during have a series of bargaining sessions, which are open to all members (more info here)
- Rally for a Fair Contract: RSVP here to help win a strong contract http://tinyurl.com/4121rally! While we have been able to make some small progress on our proposals to improve equity at UW, and to improve recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups, there are still gaps between our demands and what UW administration has agreed to. All the progress we’ve made so far has been a direct result of members’ active engagement in the bargaining process, and to win a strong contract in the next two weeks, it’s going to be critical to continue building our collective power. Every member can help by RSVPing to attend a virtual mass rally and bargaining session (tentatively scheduled for April 26th at noon) to demand a fair contract and kick off our final week of bargaining.
- Reaching agreement on a new contract: Once we reach tentative agreement with University administration on new contract language, that contract must be ratified by a member-wide vote. If the tentative agreement passes the ratification vote, we’ll have a new contract immediately; if not, we’ll go back into bargaining.
All members are strongly encouraged to participate in every stage of the campaign!
The initial bargaining demands were the result of member input over the past year in a variety of forms — 1000s of conversations over the past three years, membership meetings, grievances, two equity surveys completed by more than 3000 people, evaluation data from the EPIC program, the bargaining survey (where more than 2700 ASEs provided their input), and discussion of a draft of the demands at a January member strategy meeting. They were ratified by 54% of all Academic Student Employees in January.
From there, additional membership discussions took place in membership meetings, info sessions, and 1-to-1 organizing conversations. Through topic-specific working groups, members developed a more specific set of demands we presented to administration at our first bargaining session on March 12. As negotiations have progressed, proposals are continually developed during union caucus meetings each day of bargaining, as well as through additional working group meetings. All members are welcome and encouraged to participate in any of these meetings! To join union caucuses, be sure to join the Slack (more info here), and to ask questions or get more involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a number of ways you can get more information about contract proposals on an ongoing basis. Within 24 hours of each bargaining session, updated information will be available in the following formats:
- Quick summary of current status: For a quick overview of the status of some of the main proposals, check out this table.
- Full bargaining session summaries: For summaries of each bargaining session, including proposals passed, discussion, and more, check out the archive of session summaries. These are also emailed to all members after every session.
- Full text of all proposals: To read the full text of every proposal passed by us or by administration, check out the proposals tracking page.
What we can win in bargaining is a direct function of how much collective power we can build together. All members are strongly encouraged to participate in every stage of our contract campaign. There are many ways to get involved — check out this page on our website for an ongoing list!
Huge participation is critical because the university pays close attention to our participation rates — in the bargaining survey, in the initial demands ratification, and throughout the campaign — to gauge our strength. When a strong majority of ASEs are involved, the university knows union members are willing to fight for improvements to the current contract, and we’re able to make bigger wins. On the flip side, if we have low overall participation, the university won’t take us seriously at the bargaining table. So the stakes are high, but we know we can win when members are unified and active!
Bargaining sessions take place over Zoom, and all members are welcome! It’s always great to have more union members in the virtual room, and it’s a great way to stay up to date with what’s going on. You don’t have to commit to a full day, and you don’t have to actively participate in conversations with admin. You can just come whenever you have a free hour, and you can just listen in if you want!
During bargaining sessions, we regularly go into union “caucus” meetings, where we leave the zoom with admin and talk separately as a union. This is a great way to get involved if you want to participate in conversations about bargaining strategy and help develop proposals and counterproposals during bargaining. In order to stay coordinated during sessions with admin, we meet in a union caucus at the beginning of each bargaining day to decide who will fill which roles, what we’ll present, and who will present.
To join bargaining, you’ll first need to join the ASE Slack by filling out this form. Within 24 hours, you should get an email invitation to the Slack. Once you’re in, make sure you’re on the channel #bargaining. It should show up in the Channels pane on the left, but if it doesn’t, you can go to the plus sign next to Channels, select “Add channel” and select “Bargaining”. Before every bargaining session, a message will be posted in the Bargaining channel with a link to the channel for that specific bargaining session (e.g., #2021-04-05-bargaining). In that session-specific channel, a pinned message will have the zoom link for union caucus, the zoom link for meeting with admin, notes for the day, and more. You can find more info about troubleshooting Slack here. If using Slack would be an issue for you, or if you have any technical difficulties, please contact email@example.com and we will troubleshoot to make sure all interested members are able to participate.
If you’ve filled out the form, you should get an email with an invitation to join. If you haven’t gotten your invite within 24 hours, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you have the invite, if you’re having trouble joining the Slack from a web browser, try downloading the desktop app (Windows, Mac). If you still have trouble, email email@example.com and someone will follow up to help!
Many of the benefits you enjoy today have come from activism and organizing of previous generations of student workers just like you. Your decision to become involved and support the contract campaign ensures we can continue to build a stronger university: not just for us as individuals but for our entire community.
How can we address other issues that do not require modification of the collective bargaining agreement?
Our contract is an important tool for improving our campus and community, but it is not our only tool. When we come together in big numbers, we’ve shown that we can also make big wins through direct action, local and state politics, legal action, and more. Our working groups are a great resource for folks interested in getting involved with a variety of projects that involve our contract as well as other kinds of action: international solidarity, housing justice, equity & racial justice, political, climate justice, and more! Additionally, all ASEs are welcome to participate in a community meeting on Accessibility at UW on January 22 from 3-4:30pm to discuss building a campaign around improving accommodations for students with disabilities, chronic illness, and/or other accommodation needs.
First check your spam folder for any messages from firstname.lastname@example.org and/or UAW Local 4121. If you have multiple email addresses you may have used when signing up for membership, it can help to check each of them. If you’re still not finding the union emails, send an email to email@example.com for support.
For more information, check out the ASE Bargaining Center. Your department steward is an excellent resource if you have questions or would like to get more involved! You can find more information about your department’s steward here. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected with an active organizer in your department.
This page will be continually updated as the campaign progresses, so be sure to check back periodically!