Labor Relations

UAW RSE – UW Negotiations Recap for January 23


This recap details the twelfth 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:

Tuition Exemption Program

  • Based off the SEIU 925 IHME CBA (Article 49), with the edit the supervisors will make a good faith effort to allow employees to use vacation time off as well as flex time to take courses during regular working hours

Inclement Weather and Suspended Operations

Union Counter Proposals

Workspace and Materials

The Union rejected the Employer’s proposed language stating that reasonable access to facilities, services, text, and instructional support required for the position that the Employer has agreed to provide would be determined by the Employer. The Union accepted language clarifying that any reimbursement employees received for materials and services not provided by the department would be for materials and services required by the supervisor. Under this proposal, reimbursement would have to be approved by the supervisor or Principal Investigator prior to purchase. The Union rejected the Employer’s proposed language stating that in those cases where an employee fails to return the provided materials or equipment, the employee may be required to reimburse the Employer the depreciated value of the items.

Reasonable Accommodation for Employees with Disabilities

The Union accepted the Employer’s proposed language describing the Disability Services Office (DSO) and the process for requesting accommodations but maintained additional language stating that temporary alternate assignments and leave of absences may be considered reasonable accommodations. The Union accepted the Employers proposed language around disability separation, which states that an employee who is unable to perform the essential functions of their position due to disability could be separated from service after the Employer has made good faith efforts to reasonably accommodate the employee’s disability in accordance with applicable state and federal law. This language also clarifies that disability separation is not a corrective action.

The Union maintains its proposal that the Union Representative would be involved in the accommodation process but proposed additional language that clarifies this would be the case only if the employee has elected to have the Union Representative present.

Employer Counter Proposals

Personnel Files

In response to the Union, the Employer proposed that employees would have the right to review not only their departmental file but also their supervisor file. The Employer also modified its proposal stating an employee would have the right to view their Official Personnel File (OPF), department file and/or supervisor upon written request to state that the employee or an employee with their representative would have said right.

Health and Safety

The Employer accepted the Union’s proposal that the University would make reasonable efforts to maintain access to facilities that do not endanger the health or safety of employees in addition to maintaining such work practice and work environments. The Employer also accepted the Union’s proposal that equipment and tools be included in the list of items that the Employer would provide to promote and maintain safe work practices and environments. The Employer accepted the Union’s proposal that the Employer would provide as much advance notice as possible to employees whose health or safety could be impacted.

In response to the Union, the Employer proposed language stating that the Employer does not provide ergonomics assessments for non-office work environments, but if available, employees could choose to utilize established University outside consultants at a pre-negotiated rate and at their own expense.  The Employer also accepted the Union’s language stating that the Employer would inspect worksites and put in place appropriate and feasible mitigations for identified conditions that could be hazardous to health and safety, but the Employer included language specifying that these worksites would be worksites owned and operated by the University.

Performance Evaluations

The Employer maintains its rejection of the Union’s proposal of a Performance Evaluation form but in response proposed language stating that Performance Evaluations may be completed using the University Human Resources Evaluation forms. The Employer also accepted the union’s proposal of what the employee would be evaluated on, include quality and quantity of work, job knowledge, working relationships, and leadership skills, though the Employer proposed to add the phrase “if applicable” to leadership skills. The Employer also withdrew their proposal to strike language stating that the performance evaluation form could be supplemented with other forms and/or information used to support the employee’s evaluation, but the Employer maintained their strike of the sentence stating that an employee could review any written materials used by supervision to prepare the evaluation.

Telework and Work Location

Telework Agreements – The Employer accepted the Union’s proposal regarding written telework agreements; under this proposal, occasional telework would require written supervisor approval; hybrid telework designation would require Unit Head (or Unit Head designee) approval and an annually-reviewed telework agreement; a telework designation of remote would require an annually-reviewed telework agreement approved by the Unit Head.

In response to the Union, the Employer proposed language stating that hiring managers would be encouraged to discuss telework options, if applicable, with candidates during the interview and hiring process.

Telework Equipment – In response to the Union, the Employer proposed language stating that the University would not maintain an equipped workspace at a University work site for remote employees whose official work location is their personal residence. Departments with remote employees would be required to reimburse and/or provide the equipment and supplies which they deem necessary to enable remote employees to perform their work, in accordance with the University’s policies governing reimbursement of business expenses. Upon termination, all Employer issued equipment would have to be returned.

Next Steps

The next UAW and UW bargaining session is scheduled for January 31 and will be held virtually.