President given union contract approval authority

Washington State University’s Board of Regents this morning gave President V. Lane Rawlins the authority to approve the proposed union contract between the Washington Federation of State Employees and WSU, if Wednesday’s employee election results in ratification. At 11:30 a.m., however, no “official” election results were available.

WSU Today is awaiting responses to calls and messages regarding WFSE election results, and will update this information as soon as that is received. WSU administrators told WFSE officials that they needed the official results by 3 p.m. today, so they could notify the governor’s office and comply with a Legislative deadline of Oct. 1.

The Board of Regents also approved a new union contract with WSU’s Police Guild. That contract calls for a 3.2 percent salary base increase on July 1, 2005, and a 2.9 percent one-time, lump-sum payment on July 1, 2006.

Steve DeSoer, director of Human Resource Services, said there was an “excellent turnout” for the WFSE election, with the university providing paid release time to all employees who are under the WFSE bargaining agreement so they could participate in the election.

Major items proposed in the contract include:

* A wage increase in base pay of 3.2 percent effective July 1, 2005, and a 2.0 percent, one-time, lump-sum payment effective July 1, 2006.

* Stabilization of the employee premium share of health care benefits, for the first time since 1995, at 12 percent.

* As a condition of continued employment, all employees working in a covered position will be required to pay for the added costs of arbitration and contract administration through union membership dues or equivalent fees paid to the union. WFSE dues are currently 1.37% to a maximum of $53.29 per month.

* Continuation of existing job classification and pay system for employees covered by this contract. In short, this means this group will not be switching to the new civil service classification and pay structure, but will maintain the current system.

* Elimination of mandatory performance appraisals.

* Leave accruals and holidays are preserved without change.

* A two-year moratorium on competitive contracting.

When the regents asked what issues delayed the negotiations and the vote on the proposed WFSE/WSU contract, Rawlins pointed to two major issues: establishment of a union security clause requiring all employees covered under the agreement to pay union dues, and establishment of rules regarding layoff and bumping rights.

He noted that about 200 out of approximately 1,300 employees under the WFSE bargaining agreement currently pay union dues. So, the union security issue would represent a “major change for a majority of our employees.”

Most other universities in the state, Rawlins said, have a union security clause in their new contracts. In addition, the 3.2 percent increase in base pay in 2005 is the same as that offered in the state’s general agency contract, which applies to nonacademic classified employees statewide.

Additional information and points of contact are available on the WFSE website, the WFSE Local 1066 website, and the WSU HRS/Labor Relations website

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