Contract negotiation update: 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24.

Several developments in the negotiations between Washington Federation of State Employees and Washington State University have occurred in the past two days, including:

* WFSE and WSU have presented each other with their own “complete package proposals” for the collective bargaining agreement.

* The two negotiation teams are voluntarily “gearing back” on media coverage, in order to “focus attention on table negotiations,” according to Steve DeSoer, director of Human Resource Services. “The union voluntarily has withdrawn their radio ads as a show of good faith, and we will both be avoiding discussing issues via the media.”

DeSoer said both sides are reviewing each others proposals and “trying to agree on common ground, identify issues and differences that remain, and find resolutions… Both sides are committed to getting a contract and resolution” that works for both the employees and the university.

However, no negotiations took place today,” said Tim Welch, director of public affairs for the Washington Federation of State Employees. “…People will be mulling things over during the weekend and hopefully we’ll get back together on Monday.”

Recent negotiation efforts, Welch said, have not been moving things along regarding “substantive issues… And, our people are very frustrated with the progress this week.”
Both sides acknowledge that a big sticking issue is the union’s desire to include a clause in the contract calling for “union security,” under which all employees covered by WSU/ WFSE contract would pay a union-designated amount of union dues or representation fees. 

A major related issue involving union security is whether all 1,250 employees affected by the WFSE contract will be able to vote on the proposal, or whether it will be limited to the 200 dues paying WFSE members.

The final contract is expected to contain about 66 sections in all, with about 62 of these already earning mutual approval. The last four articles contain issues concerning competitive contracting, layoff/bumping right procedures and the inclusion of a provision for “union security.”

The problem is, the clock is ticking and a final bargaining agreement needs to be delivered to the governor’s office by an Oct. 1 deadline.

WSU is now the only university in the state which has not reached a final collective bargaining agreement, but the parties are scheduled to resume negotiations on Monday.