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WFSE agreement reached, decertification votes go forward

The Washington Federation of State Employees and Washington State University reached a settlement of the union’s unfair labor practice complaint late Wednesday evening, Sept. 28.

WFSE’s ULP complaint had alleged that WSU management interfered in last September’s union contract ratification vote. Under the agreement, the union withdraws its ULP complaint, which allows two pending decertification elections to go forward for bargaining unit 3 (skilled trades, representing about 220 employees) and bargaining unit 2 (services supervisors, with about 12 employees).

To allow WSU Today readers to consider the agreement fairly and objectively, here is the agreement.
 
SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT AND RELEASE

Parties and Purpose
This Settlement Agreement and Release, entered into by and between the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE), hereafter referred to as “WFSE,” and the state of Washington, Washington State University (WSU), hereafter referred to as “WSU,” sets forth the agreed resolution between the parties of any and all matters relating to the pending unfair labor practice case before the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC), Case No. 18867-U-04-4795.  In consideration of the mutual covenants set forth herein, the WFSE and WSU agree as follows:

Terms of Settlement
 1. This settlement shall not be construed as an admission of fault or liability on either party’s part. 

 2. WSU agrees to recognize the Bargaining Unit 2 Supervisors unit as a distinct bargaining unit as certified by PERC and to conform the collective bargaining agreement accordingly.

 3. WSU agrees to withdraw its pending appeal before the PERC in Case No. 16502-U-02-4262.  By agreeing to drop this appeal, WSU is not acknowledging or implying that its appeal has no merit or that it agrees with the decision or Order.

 4. WSU agrees that salaries for classification found to be more than twenty-five percent (25%) behind prevailing rate, in accordance with the Department of Personnel’s 2002 Salary Survey, will be brought to within twenty-five percent (25%) of prevailing rate for those employees in the eligible positions working in Bargaining Units 1 and 11, effective July 1, 2005.  WSU agrees to use their best efforts to have the increases paid on or before October 25, 2005, but no later than November 10, 2005, and to further execute a Memorandum of Understanding with the WSFE reflecting this agreement.

 5. The WFSE agrees to withdraw its’ unfair labor practice claim before the PERC, Case No. 18867-U-04-4795, thereby allowing the pending decertification elections to proceed. By agreeing to drop this appeal, the WFSE is not acknowledging or implying that its complaint has no merit.

 6. The WFSE agrees that they will not file further unfair labor practice complaints against WSU regarding any possible issue related to the decertification petitions or contract ratification elections that may have occurred up to the date of this agreement. 

 7. The parties agree that they will apply and abide by and enforce like standards for prohibitions on the use of state resources to all employees, union and non-union alike during the pending decertification or union contract ratification votes that may occur.  Such prohibition will include but not be limited to use of WSU e-mail system and computer network, WSU reproduction equipment, keys to access WSU property for campaign purposes, and distribution of materials on work time.  Glenn Frye, Assistant Director, Human Resource Services at WSU, and the WFSE area representative assigned to WSU shall be the contact persons for the reporting of any alleged violations as noted above.

 8. The parties agree to issue the attached joint statements to be published in WSU Today, WSU Today Online and WSU Announcements, clarifying the agency shop/union shop terms and the union dues issue as it relates to the WFSE, and a WSU Today headline.

 9. The parties further state that each of us are over the age of eighteen (18) years of age, that we have carefully read the foregoing Settlement Agreement and Release, that we have had an opportunity to consult with legal counsel, that we know the contents thereof, and that we sign this document of our own free will.

 10. This Settlement Agreement and Release shall become effective and binding on the parties after the date of the final signature of the parties and/or their authorized representatives, and, together with an agreement of even date, constitute the full agreement of the parties in full resolution of all issues regarding Case No. 18867-U-04-4795, before the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission.

Accepted by:
* Edward E. Younglove III, attorney for the WFSE
* Richard A. Heath, WSU associate vice president of Business Affairs
* Gladys Burbank, director, Public Employee Relations Council Activities, WFSE
* Donna J. Stambaugh, assistant attorney general  

Attachment:

A recent WSU Today online and newspaper article covered the library employees’ vote to decertify the WFSE as their union representative. Regrettably, the headline, “No union, bigger paychecks,” could have been interpreted by some to imply that unrepresented employees at WSU received bigger pay raises than represented employees. Regardless of the outcome of the election, employees would have received exactly the same salary increase in the first year. In fact, if the union had prevailed, the increase would have been effective July 1 instead of the Sept. 1 date; and the second-year increase would have actually been higher for the represented employees. WSU also never intended to convey the sentiment that as a general proposition not having a union means better pay. WSU supports the new Collective Bargaining Act, RCW, 41.80, which includes the right of its represented employees to bargain wages.

There also has been some question surrounding union security provisions. The union security clause recently negotiated by WFSE and WSU does not constitute a closed shop, which is illegal in Washington. The union security clause does not require represented employees to become union members but allows employees to join the union or pay a representation fee. The representation fee, which is less than the amount of dues, covers only the cost of representation and contract negotiations and administration. In addition, eligible employees, who meet certain criteria, may elect non-association status and have their fee paid to one of several charities. 

Currently WFSE dues are 1.37% with a cap, so they cannot exceed $55 per month. The representative fee is currently 1.13% with a cap of $45.49 per month. The dues and fee amounts can only be changed by a vote of the members at a state convention held every two years.

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