Labor Relations

UAW RSE – UW Negotiations Recap for September 26 and October 5


This recap details the second and third virtual session between the University of Washington (UW) and United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 4121 for the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for Research Scientist Engineers (RSEs). Recaps are published online on the UW Labor Relations website.

Tentative Agreements

The parties tentatively agreed to the following:



  • Recognizes UAW as the sole and exclusive bargaining representative for the bargaining unit and included the description of the bargaining unit from the PERC certification

Subordination of Agreement and Savings Clause

Joint Union Management Committee (JLM)

  • Based off the UAW Postdocs CBA (Article 13) with edits that revise the number of Employer representatives to be equal to the number of Union and remove reference to academic quarters. Instead, if requested, meetings will be held twice a year at mutually agreed upon times and on an ad hoc basis as needed

Union Initial Proposals

Corrective Action and Dismissal
The Union’s initial proposal is based off the UAW Postdocs and Academic Researchers CBA at University of California (Article 6). The proposal outlines types of corrective action, which include a letter of warning, suspension, a reduction in salary, demotion, and dismissal. The proposal also outlines the process for issuing such corrective action, which includes a written notice of intent to both the employee and Union prior to initiating suspension, reduction in salary or demotion. The employee would be entitled to respond to this notice of intent within 15 days; after which the Employer would issue a written notice of action if the Employer determines to institute the corrective action. The proposal also describes the process for dismissal, the timeline for grievance as a result of corrective action or dismissal, the process for administrative leave, and the employee’s right to Union representation at investigatory meetings.

Voluntary Community Action Program (VCAP)
The Union’s initial proposal is based off the UAW Postdocs CBA  (Article 31) and outlines the process surrounding VCAP deductions, an additional voluntary deduction for UAW.

Employer Initial Proposals

Management Rights
The Employer’s initial proposal is based off the contract for the Research Support Professionals Unit between the University of California and the University Professional and Technical Employees (Article 19). The article establishes the right of management to make and implement decisions related to allocation of financial aid; implementation of affirmative action; establishment and administration of procedures, rules and regulations; assignment and scheduling of work; establishment of the size of the work force; hiring and layoffs; discipline of employees; maintenance of safety standards and programs; and determination and modifications of job classifications.

Employer Counter Proposals

Purpose and Intent
The Employer accepted the majority of the Union’s initial proposal, which was based off the UAW Postdocs CBA  (Article 1), but rejected language stating that the Employer would not engage in any activity or enter an agreement with any other group or individual for the purpose of undermining the Union as the representative of individuals in the unit. Additionally, the Employer rejected language stating that if, during its term, the parties should mutually agree to alter the provisions of the contract, in any respect, any such changes would be effective only if reduced to writing and executed by the authorized representatives of the UW and the Union.

Grievance Procedure
The Union’s initial proposal was based off the UAW Academic Student Employees (ASEs) CBA (Article 8) and included regularly scheduled arbitration hearings as well as the ability to unilaterally skip Step One of the grievance process. The Employer’s counter proposal was based upon the grievance procedure for other staff and includes four steps: a meeting at the department level, a meeting with Labor Relations, mediation, and arbitration scheduled only at such time a grievance reaches Step Four. The Employer’s proposal includes the ability to skip any of the first three steps of the grievance process, but only upon mutual agreement of both parties.

The Employer also proposed language that would clarify the timeline for filing a grievance and how days would be counted in the time requirements throughout the grievance process. Lastly, the Employer proposed language stating that at any time during the grievance process the parties could use alternative methods to resolve the dispute if they mutually consent to do so.

Union Rights
The Union’s initial proposal is based off the UAW Postdocs CBA  (Article 29) with some edits. The Employer accepted provisions related to publication of the contract, Union access to employees’ work spaces, and the selection and work of Union stewards. The Employer rejected the Union’s proposal for reports the Employer would regularly provide the Union, pending answers from the Union regarding how they would protect such information given the security clearance of some RSEs.

The Employer also rejected the Union’s language regarding release time, as the Union’s initial proposal expanded the Postdocs section addressing release for CBA bargaining to include other union business, such as union orientations and grievance processing, and increased the number of employees that could be provided paid release for all such work from 5 employees to 10. Additionally, the Employer rejected language stating that the Employer would provide new employees with Union cards, as that is not the Employer’s current practice for any union.

Union Security
The Employer accepted all of the language from the Union’s initial proposal, which was based off the UAW Postdocs CBA  (Article 30) and outlines how dues would be deducted from employees’ paychecks on behalf of the Union. The Employer proposed to add language stating that the Union would transmit deduction authorizations to the Employer via a web-based reporting system.

The Employer rejected the Union’s initial proposal, which was based off the SEIU 925 Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) CBA (Article 44) and stated that the Employer would not contract out work that results in the layoff or reduced FTE status of bargaining unit employees. The Employer’s proposed language states that the Employer would, upon request, meet and confer with the Union over the effects of contracting on the bargaining unit and further clarifies that contracting would also be an appropriate agenda item for Joint Union Management Committee meetings.

New Employee Orientation
The Employer accepted the majority of the Union’s initial proposal, which was based off the UAW Postdocs CBA  (Article 17), with a few modifications. The Employer proposed that the Employer could require new employees to attend orientation, rather than the Employer would require new employees to attend. The Employer further proposed to clarify that this requirement would apply to employees with a primary work location on the Seattle main campus. For employees who do not attend this orientation, the Employer rejected the Union’s proposal that the Employer would require the employee to attend a separate Union presentation, but accepted language stating that the Employer would provide the Union access to the employee for such a presentation. The Employer also proposed that for such a presentation the Employer would allow up to 30 minutes; the Union had proposed that the Employer would allow no less than 30 minutes.

Personnel Files
The Union’s initial proposal was based off the UAW Postdocs CBA  (Article 18), which details what files Academic Human Resources (HR) should be in the personnel files of academic employees and how those employees may access such files. As RSEs are not academic employees, their personnel files are maintained by Campus HR, and their departments keep additional files. The Employer’s counter proposal included language explaining how RSEs may access their department file as well as a link to the policy by which RSEs may request their official personnel file (OPF) from Campus HR.

Next Steps

The next UAW and UW bargaining session is scheduled for October 11 and will be held virtually.