Labor Relations

Negotiations Recap for June 23, 2016 (SEIU 925-WFSE Coalition Session)

This recap summarizes the third session where SEIU 925 and WFSE negotiated as a coalition for the renewal of UW’s collective bargaining agreements with each union for the 2017-19 contract term.


SEIU 925 and WFSE delivered additional proposals, primarily focused on training and education. UW delivered numerous initial proposals with a focus on harmonizing many provisions across the SEIU 925 and WFSE contracts, in line with the unions’ goal of creating greater uniformity between the two contracts.

UW noted that some “give and take” comes with harmonizing elements of the two contracts, as well as some new benefits such as greater predictability for recently-appointed staff to use their vacation time, and an extended vacation leave pilot for Harborview employees. UW clarified that this represented its initial round of proposals, and should not be interpreted as UW declining the unions’ opening series of proposals.

Union Coalition Proposals

SEIU 925 and WFSE delivered the following proposals as a coalition, intended to apply to both groups.

New Employee Orientation – The unions proposed replacing existing contract language with a broad commitment for UW to provide mandatory in-person orientation for all new employees.

Tuition Exemption – The unions proposed that SEIU 925- and WFSE-represented employees get free admission to all UW classes without any of the restrictions that apply to other UW employees. The proposal included free tuition for non-state funded courses and the ability to register for classes on the same timeline as students.

Education Support Funds – The unions proposed that UW provide $500 per employee per year for expenses such as books, magazines, and college courses.

Educational/Professional Leave – The unions proposed that all employees receive up to three days of paid release time per year for educational or professional leave.

Training Fund – The unions proposed that UW contribute $1 million per year to a fund that the unions administer jointly with the University, which would provide support for tuition and books in support of degree programs that qualify employees for positions at UW.

UW Proposals

UW delivered a series of initial proposals, including:

Management Rights – UW proposed uniform language and formatting for both contracts based on WFSE’s general government contract.

Joint Labor-Management (JLM) – UW proposed uniform language for both contracts providing for quarterly JLM meetings and adhering to a consistent structure, and establishing that the unions are responsible for paying any travel or per diem expenses of employee representatives.

Contract Publication – UW proposed removing language on maintaining paper copies of the contract, given that UW has moved to publishing contracts on the Labor Relations website and that the unions commonly print paper copies for members anyway.

Union Activities – UW incorporated existing and new provisions into one article, which included:

  • Steward Jurisdictions and Time: UW proposed clarifications in support of greater uniformity regarding steward jurisdictions. UW also proposed that a record of steward work time spent on union activity be maintained, which UW and the union could discuss further if it is determined that an unreasonable amount of work time is being used for such activities.
  • Union Business Activities: UW proposed a more clear and uniform process around use of leave for participating in union business functions.
  • Use of State Resources: UW proposed language clarifying the existing expectation that state resources, including the UW email system, will not be used to conduct union business activities and will adhere to the expectations of the Executive Ethics Board.
  • Information Requests: UW proposed uniform language memorializing the unions’ right to request certain information from the University.

Uniforms, Tools, and Equipment – UW proposed incorporating language modeled on other state contracts regarding employer-issued tools and equipment. The language speaks to UW repairing or replacing damaged equipment and reinforces employees’ obligations to maintain and ultimately return tools and equipment.

Drug and Alcohol Free Workplace – UW proposed language memorializing the expectation that employees report to work unimpaired by alcohol or drugs, and in a condition fit to perform their assigned duties. Components included:

  • Possession: Employees may not use or possess alcohol, marijuana, or illegal drugs in UW vehicles, on agency premises, or on official business.
  • Prescriptions: If there is substantial likelihood that an employee’s medication will affect job safety, they would need to notify their supervisor of these potential side effects.
  • Reasonable Suspicion Testing: UW could direct testing for alcohol, marijuana, or controlled substances when there is reason to suspect that usage of such substances may be adversely affecting the employee’s job performance or could pose a danger to physical safety. Reasonable suspicion must be supported by specific and objective grounds.
  • Training: Training would be made available to all managers, supervisors, union stewards, and lead workers. Training would include the effects of drugs and alcohol in the workplace, behavioral symptoms of being affected by substances, and available rehabilitation services.

Performance Evaluation – UW proposed simplifying and harmonizing the performance evaluation language across contracts, creating a uniform process for both unions, and proposed that performance evaluations not be subject to grievance (currently elements of performance evaluations are grievable through Step 2 of the grievance procedure).

Corrective Action – UW proposed aligning language to current practice across both unions, including incorporating SEIU 925’s contract language stating that informal coaching is not subject to grievance. UW proposed utilizing the existing SEIU 925 language regarding removal of formal counseling documents from an employee’s personnel file after three years for both contracts.

Grievance Procedure – UW proposed several changes to harmonize the unions’ contract language into one uniform grievance procedure, utilizing the timelines in the current SEIU 925 contract, and added language clarifying the process for utilizing a panel of arbitrators.

Holidays – UW proposed language and structural updates to clarify the use of personal holidays, and proposed relocating the provision on leave without pay for a reason of faith or conscience into a more appropriate article.

Vacations – UW proposed allowing for employees to use their vacation leave after six months of continuous employment, regardless of whether they are in a probationary period or not. This would enable certain employees whose probation is extended or who face another probationary period due to a job change to start using their vacation in a more timely manner.

Work Related Injury Leave – UW proposed language clarifying that employees on work related injury leave could use time loss compensation, leave payment, or both, but that the sum total cannot exceed the employee’s regular salary.

Shared Leave – UW proposed a uniform statement memorializing employees’ right to participate in the University’s shared leave program.

Employee Leave Records – UW proposed removing language regarding departments making vacation and sick leave records available to employees, because this information is available to all employees online and universally accessible via Employee Self-Service.

Hours of Work and Overtime – UW proposed harmonizing several articles from both contracts into one uniform provision. UW proposed incorporating SEIU 925’s language on alternative/flexible schedules, and proposed that overtime be calculated based on time worked as well as vacation time used, but that sick leave not count toward this calculation.

Appointments, Positions, and Hiring – UW proposed language allowing management to apply part of an employee’s time served in a fixed duration appointment toward their probationary period if they transition from fixed duration to a permanent position without a break in service.

UW also proposed introducing a 12 month probationary period for certain job classes, including medical center custodians and power plant operating engineers, with the aim of building in more time focused on training.

In-Training Program – UW proposed introducing language to allow management to designate “in-training” positions or groups in accordance with a defined training program, which could include on-the-job training and courses conducted by an educational institution.

Trial Service – UW proposed a uniform six month trial service period for both contracts, and allowing an employee serving a trial service period to voluntarily revert to their former position within 15 days of the appointment (provided the position still exists, is funded, and is not committed to another employee).

Classification and Allocation – UW proposed harmonizing several provisions from both contracts into a uniform article on topics such as classification, reclassification, and allocation. UW adopted SEIU 925’s existing requirement that UW provide 30 days’ advance notice prior to creating, eliminating, or modifying a class specification.

Term of Agreement – UW proposed updating the contract term to reflect the 2017-2019 biennium.

Memoranda of Understanding – UW proposed deleting outdated language in several MOUs.

Harborview Extended Leave Program – UW proposed a pilot program for both contracts to address an issue that WFSE recently flagged as a priority. At management’s discretion, Harborview employees could be granted an extended vacation leave ranging from three to six consecutive weeks, provided they have not taken such a leave in the four years prior.

Next Steps

The next WFSE-specific bargaining session is scheduled for July 6, and the next SEIU 925-specific bargaining session is scheduled for July 13. The next SEIU 925 and WFSE coalition session scheduled for July 15.