UAW, UW reach 1-year deal
UAW, UW reach 1-year deal
By William Dow
June 23, 2010
On June 4, a three-month ordeal that included strike rumors, negotiating deadlines and heated debate between UAW Local 4121 — the union that represents academic student-workers on campus — and university administration came to an end, but only for a year.
The two parties agreed on a one-year deal June 1, and three days later, the union ratified the agreement after 71 percent of its members voted in favor of its terms.
The new contract strikes down the 447 TA layoffs that were scheduled in the College of Arts & Sciences for 2011, maintains the current level of funding for the Odegaard Writing and Research Center and imposes a wage freeze for academic student-employees (ASEs) in 2010 in concurrence with the faculty-salary freeze. In addition, the university is paying for ASE health insurance-premiums and providing full tuition waivers to offset the costs of rising tuition and stagnant wages.
Ariel Wetzel, a graduate student in English who voted no on the contract, wasn’t happy with the wage freeze. Citing the increase in fees from the renovation of the HUB and Hall Health, Wetzel said the wage provision of the contract “essentially amounts to a pay cut for graduate students, because we have to pay [the university] in order to go to work.”
UAW Local 4121 President David Parsons had “mixed feelings” regarding the outcome of the deal.
“We were happy about the outcomes as far as jobs were concerned, as far as certain pieces of the health insurance,” he said, “but I don’t think anybody was thrilled about the compensation pieces.”
The contract between the two parties is set to expire in one year, which is unusually short among union-university contracts. As it recognized it couldn’t meet its bargaining goals, the union accepted the contract as a temporary fix while it continues to strive for more protections. Parsons said whether or not the same frustrating process repeats next year depends a lot on the university and the compensation policy.
“It certainly doesn’t have to reoccur,” Parsons said, “and if it does, all the worse for them and for us, because we aren’t going to let the [compensation policy] go.”
Despite the possibility of prolonged negotiations next year, university administrators, including Vice President of Human Resources Mindy Kornberg, were satisfied with the result this year.
“Considering the economic environment we find ourselves in, the university was pleased to reach this one year agreement with the union,” Kornberg said.
Reach reporter William Dow at email@example.com.