Labor Relations

Ergonomics Discussion: August 21, 2014

Representatives from both bargaining teams met with representatives from Environmental Health and Safety (“EHS”) to discuss the process by which ergonomics assessments are requested.

SEIU 925 Concerns

In support of its proposed requirement that employee requests for ergonomics assessments be scheduled and completed within 20 working days, SEIU 925 argued that the current system lacks accountability and a clear process.

SEIU 925 Suggestions

SEIU 925 suggested the notion of EHS assuming a gatekeeping function, whereby requests for ergonomics assessments would go through EHS initially, and be delegated to outside vendors as needed. EHS would be responsible for maintaining and evaluating data on employee requests over time, which would be available to the union upon request.

UW Response

EHS explained that while ergonomics has not historically been within its scope, the department has taken steps to become more directly involved, including handling preventive cases through its recently-hired ergonomist. UW pointed out that given EHS’s lack of direct control over outside vendors, it could not guarantee compliance with SEIU 925’s originally-proposed language as written.

UW explained that the parties share similar visions for success, but that securing adequate resources to establish and perpetuate such a program presents a challenge. UW noted that such a system would likely need to be implemented more globally, as opposed to only serving SEIU 925 members.

Next Steps

The next UW-SEIU 925 bargaining session is scheduled for September 4.