Labor Relations

UW – SAG-AFTRA Negotiations Recap for April 9 and 11, 2019


This recap details the April 9 and 11 sessions for the negotiation of the first collective bargaining agreement between the University of Washington (UW) and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA, a/k/a “the union”). Recaps are published online on the UW Labor Relations website.

Cost Estimate of SAG-AFTRA’s Modified Economic Proposal

On January 14, 2019, the union made an economic proposal that included adjustments to minimum salaries set by job title and level, across-the-board increases of 8% per year for the three years of the contract, a minimum of 8% increase for any promotion or reclassification, a minimum of 8% increase for temporary pay, on-call pay at the rate of $100 per day, a 20% night shift premium, and cell-phone reimbursements. This proposal was modified by SAG-AFTRA on February 26, 2019.

As a steward of the resources of the State of Washington, the UW bargaining team rigorously costs out all proposals made by the unions to ensure that agreements are crafted with budgets in mind and in keeping with guidelines issued by the state. In a presentation on Tuesday, April 9, the UW shared the result of these efforts. For each adjustment to salary and pay provision provided by SAG-AFTRA, the UW provided a cost estimate for year one, year two, and year three of the proposed contract, then presented these totals with the additional cost of the benefits load rate factored in on items to which it applies. A summary of these estimates is available here.

The total cost to the station for SAG-AFTRA’s economic proposal over the three-year contract term was projected to be $4,275,053. For reference, in the financial presentation by KUOW on April 3, 2019, KUOW shared with SAG-AFTRA that total expenses for the station in fiscal year 2019’s budget is $18,423,869 before depreciation.

UW also shared how the proposed adjustments to minimum salary thresholds and across-the-board increases would impact each staff member, demonstrating the cost for each employee as well as the total percent increase in their salaries over the three years.

UW’s Economic Proposal

In response to SAG-AFTRA’s economic proposal, the UW delivered a comprehensive counter including the employer’s initial economic proposal.

Throughout the course of bargaining, several provisions of SAG-AFTRA’s economic proposal are covered by other articles to which both parties have already tentatively agreed. The UW shared the list of those provisions as follows:

  • Benefits
  • Workday (covered by the “Work Week” article)
  • Minimum Call
  • Flexible Work Agreements/Arrangements
  • Professional Development
  • Seniority (covered by “Length of Service” article)
  • Postings
  • Fellowships, Interns

Several parts of SAG-AFTRA’s economic proposal are covered by articles for which the UW is awaiting a response from SAG-AFTRA. The UW shared the list of those articles as follows:

  • On-call (covered by “Weekend Shift Rotation” article)
  • Layoff Procedure
  • Rehire/Recall
  • Overtime
  • Holidays
  • Sick

The UW made the following counter-proposals in response to SAG-AFTRA’s other economic proposals:

Temporary Hourly Fill-In Employees: This article is the UW’s counter to SAG-AFTRA’s proposal on “Use of Temporary/On-Call Employees.” The article states that temporary hourly fill-in employees shall not be hired to permanently replace bargaining unit positions, but may be retained for assignments not to exceed six months to backfill for vacant positions or fill in for employees who are on leave.

Temporary Pay Increase/Assignment In a Higher Position: This article is the UW’s counter to SAG-AFTRA’s provision, “Temporary Assignment in a Higher Rated Position or Upgrade” and proposes that regular, full-time employees temporarily assigned work from a position with a higher minimum salary for at least ten (10) working days will receive a temporary pay increase of at least five percent (5%). The ten day/5% minimums are the same as those in the Professional Staff Program Temporary Pay Increase policy that apply to professional staff employees at KUOW who are not in the bargaining unit, as well as professional staff throughout the university.

Rest Between Shifts: This article is the UW’s counter to SAG-AFTRA’s proposal for a “12-Hour Rule” And proposes that the Employer will make a good faith effort to provide no less than a ten (10) hour break between shifts.

Meal Allowance: This article states that in the event of breaking news that prohibits working employees from taking meal breaks, the Employer, at its discretion, will provide meals for working staff.

Vacation: This article outlines vacation policy and accrual, which is the same as what they already accrue as professional staff. The article further defines how vacation scheduling, vacation denial, and vacation payout are handled.

Cell Phone Policy: This article is the UW’s counter to SAG-AFTRA’s proposal for “Cell Phone Reimbursement.” The Employer currently provides cell phones, but proposes to provide cell phones based on specifications provided by the bargaining unit for content creators. The Employer also proposes to pay the monthly fee.

Compensation: This article is the UW’s counter to SAG-AFTRA’s proposals on “Minimum Salary,” “Job Definitions and Classifications,” “Guaranteed Increases,” and “Promotions and Reclassifications.” The UW proposed across-the-board increases of 1% per year for the three years of the contract, as well as pay adjustments based on the Milliman study. The proposal payment adjustments would go to employees whose salary falls below 80% of the median base salary reported in the 2018 Compensation Study commissioned by KUOW from the Milliman consulting firm.. The article further stated that promotion or reclassification to another position with a higher salary minimum would result in a salary no less than the minimum of the new job class, and that reclassification to another position with a lower salary minimum would result in a salary no lower than the minimum salary for the class into which the employee is moving and no higher than 110% of the minimum salary.

The UW also shared several documents outlining the estimated costs for its initial proposal and the cost impact for each employee in the bargaining unit. The first of these was a list of employees who would receive new cell phones under the proposed Cell Phone Policy article as well as the estimated price for each phone. The other documents provided by the UW demonstrated the cost of these proposed salaries and across-the-board annual increases over three years as well as the cost of additional pay provisions; a summary of these costs is available here. The total cost to KUOW for the employer’s economic proposal is estimated to be $814,234 over three years.

Tentative Agreements

The parties signed tentative agreements to close the following provisions:

Fellows and Interns: The parties agree that the Employer will work to maintain a recurring temporary fellowship opportunity that will be paid hourly and last no longer than four months. The Fellow may only perform work in addition to work performed by bargaining unit employees, not in lieu of such work.

Length of Service: This article defines length of service as the continuous length of service in a SAG-AFTRA bargaining unit position in calendar days with the Employer from the most recent date of hire.

Other UW Proposals

Bona Fide Independent Contractors: SAG-AFTRA initially proposed an article to which the UW provided a counter-proposal, stating that bona fide independent contractors are excluded from the bargaining unit and are not intended to displace bargaining unit positions.

Layoff: This article states that the Employer will notify the Union of layoffs due to lack of work, lack of funds, or a good faith reorganization. The Employer would provide a minimum of thirty (30) days’ notice but would seek to provide longer notice if possible. The article further details the nature of the notice and the options that will be offered to employees subject to layoff.

Rehire: This article states that employees who are laid off shall be placed on the Employer’s rehire list and that the Employer shall make a concerted effort to re-employ people on the list. The article further outlines a rehire trial period, salary setting upon rehire, and circumstances that would lead to removal from the list.

Weekend Shift Rotation: In response to SAG-AFTRA’s “On-call” proposal, this management counter proposes that the Employer will develop a schedule of weekend shift assignment rotation and would provide it 6 months in advance of the proposed rotation. When it is an employee’s turn in the rotation, the employee’s schedule would change just for that week to Wednesday through Sunday.

Next Steps

The next SAG-AFTRA bargaining session is scheduled for April 16 at KUOW.