Academic student-employee union contract receives 4th extension

The academic student-employee union’s contract with the university received its fourth deadline extension Monday, pushing negotiations almost two months past the initial contract-expiration date.

United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 4121, the union that represents academic student-employees such as TAs and research assistants, has been negotiating a new three-year contract with the university since early March. The union’s primary goal has been to secure compensation increases for academic student-employees that would mitigate increasing tuition and student fees, which the students must pay as a condition of their employment at the university.

The initial expiration date of the contract was April 30, but the contract was extended to May 12, then to May 21, and again to May 24 due to unresolved issues. On Monday night, negotiations were extended for about another week with the new June 1 deadline.

“Yesterday we met with the university and the mediator and began a discussion of a comprehensive settlement package,” the UAW Local 4121 website reported. “The discussion was not concluded, and we formally extended the contract until June 1, 2010.”

On April 28, UAW Local 4121 members passed a resolution calling on the bargaining committee to call a strike if an agreement cannot be reached with the university. The union also received a strike sanction early this month from the Martin Luther King County Labor Council and the UAW International Executive Board.

Last night, the ASUW Senate passed a resolution in support of the UAW Local 4121 bargaining efforts. Clauses of the resolution include: “that the ASUW encourages both parties to consider the impact of a potential strike on undergraduates who might not receive grades; and that the ASUW strongly urges the negotiating teams to arrive at a timely resolution that will prevent a strike without compromising the welfare of the negotiating parties.”

“The ASUW represents basically all the students at the UW, undergrad and grad,” said Jason Padvorac, sponsor of the resolution and director of Faculty, Administration and Academic Affairs. “So it matters for the graduate students that we represent and we support them. And it matters for the undergraduates because our education would be better if the people who are teaching us are taken care of. And, in addition to that, the timing of this means that it would be really, really best if the bargaining teams can come to that agreement without needing a strike, because no one wants a strike — graduates, undergraduates or administration. But if that’s what it takes to get a fair agreement, that’s what the union will do.”

Reach reporter Joanna Nolasco at news@dailyuw.com.

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