Labor Relations

Negotiations Recap for September 14, 2015

This recap details the 14th bargaining session between the UW and the UWHA to form the first union contract for UW medical and dental residents and fellows (collectively referred to below as “trainees”).

UW Presentation

Compensation Discussion

Introduction – UW explained its aim to achieve a contract that is fair and recognizes the unique challenges faced by trainees, while acknowledging the financial realities within which the institution must operate.

Cost of Union Stipend Proposal – UW reported that UWHA’s proposal, including stipend increases of 35.3 – 45.7 percent, would cost the University over $46 million in the first year of the contract alone, and roughly $144 million over a three year contract period.

UW Stipend Comparisons – UW’s stipends are competitive with comparable institutions nationwide, including other large unionized institutions. UW explained that trainee stipend increases have outpaced the Seattle area consumer price index, and presented a real wage comparison showing that average trainee stipends came out roughly 5 percent ahead of the local consumer price index over the last five years (using UW’s wage proposal for academic year 2016).

Further Discussion – UW responded to the union’s central argument that the entire national market for trainee stipends is innately flawed, explaining that as a single institution UW is not in a position to deconstruct and redefine the nationwide practice. UW reaffirmed that this is an educational stipend, and that the experience also carries significant educational and training value for residents and fellows.

UW must balance the economic realities faced by the institution as well as the training sites, including stewardship of public funds and an obligation to fairly compensate many other employee groups. UW explained that within this context, the stipend increases proposed by the union are unsustainable.

UW Initial Stipend Proposal

  • General Stipend Increases: UW proposed stipend increases of two percent effective on the date of the new contract, and two percent each July 1 after that, with a three year contract.
  • Supplement for all Grant-funded Trainees: UW agreed with the union proposal to establish a requirement that the stipends of all trainees appointed to a grant-funded position be supplemented such that they receive a stipend commensurate with the rate established for their training year per the UW GME Stipend Schedule. All Residents who participate in required research years within the course of their accredited training would be paid according to the UW GME Stipend Schedule and receive promotions in pay level for each year of training.
  • Maintenance of Chief Resident Supplement: UW proposed language memorializing the availability of a $150 monthly supplement for Chief Residents.
Other UW Proposals

Professional Development Fund – UW proposed that each trainee be allocated $600 per year for expenses related to their professional development, including costs associated with attending professional meetings or board preparation courses, professional membership fees, payment for licensure and exam fees, and the purchase of study materials or medical equipment. Additional funding may be given at the individual training program’s discretion.

Parking and Transportation – UW explained that parking is an institution-wide challenge that does not have a quick fix. UW’s language outlined the existing parking and transportation benefits available to trainees, including reimbursement for second-site parking and the Emergency/Safe Ride Home Program, and established a plan to advocate for the unique situation of trainees at the University Transportation Committee (the University’s primary venue for coordination of transportation issues).

UW proposed the formation of two committees with trainee representation: a UW-UWHA parking committee focused on solutions toward affordable access to parking for trainees, and a bike program task force focused on exploring the development of a trainee bike program.

Childcare – Similar to its parking proposal, UW explained that childcare is a challenge confronting the entire UW community that the University is increasingly working to address globally. UW’s proposed language memorialized that UW will pay the difference in waitlist fees between UW Children’s Centers and other affiliated childcare centers, and that trainees receive priority access to Bright Horizon childcare centers. The language commits that trainees will be eligible to participate in any Nanny Share programs or discounts offered to UW employees, and would appoint a UWHA representative to the Childcare Advisory Group to advance the goal of improving access to affordable on-site childcare for trainees.

External Moonlighting – UW added language clarifying the program director’s responsibility to determine whether a trainee has met the criteria to be eligible to engage in external moonlighting. In response to UWHA’s request, UW proposed that trainees who request to moonlight must be performing at or above average in their program as assessed according to their specialty’s Milestones and/or as indicated on in-service exam scores, and may not be subject to remediation or other disciplinary action. Language also clarified that trainees may not reduce duty hours in their training program in order to stay under the limit to enable engaging in external moonlighting.

UW accepted and supplemented UWHA’s description of minor procedures that may be performed while moonlighting, adding more specific examples. UW maintained its language memorializing that external moonlighting must not conflict with the terms of any applicable grants, and proposed that the decision to deny a moonlighting request may be challenged up to step 2 of the grievance procedure.

Internal Moonlighting – UW proposed an internal moonlighting provision that largely mirrors the external moonlighting proposal while reflecting the different licensure requirements, Medicare compliance considerations, and institutional oversight that comes with internal moonlighting.

Extended Leave – At UWHA’s request, UW supplemented its proposed extended leave benefit, through which eligible trainees may be able to receive up to 12 weeks of paid leave during their entire UW appointment, by including illustrative examples of some conditions that could be considered qualifying conditions.

Union Response

UWHA expressed disappointment with UW’s initial economic counter-proposal. UWHA made clear its belief that the national market for trainee stipends is fundamentally flawed, and reaffirmed its goal of redefining the labor market and dismantling the pay structure for residents and fellows nationwide. The union asked why it took until September for UW to deliver its counter-proposal on stipends. UW reminded UWHA that it did not receive the union’s initial stipend proposal until the parties’ last bargaining session in August.

The union stated that it will not meet again for future negotiations sessions on any of the parties’ outstanding items unless UW first substantially augments its stipend proposal. UW emphasized that bargaining is a process and that this proposal represents a starting point, and expressed its preference to continue meeting regularly.

Next Steps

The next UW-UWHA bargaining session is scheduled for September 21.