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UW Instructors: Two Years and Still No Contract?

October 11, 2013

SEATTLE – After going more than two years without a contract, a group of college instructors says it's still hopeful that it will be able to reach an agreement with the University of Washington.

The International and English Language Program (IELP) faculty decided to unionize in 2011, and the teachers say they've been trying since then for their first contract.

For years, each instructor has worked under separate contracts, mostly for one academic quarter at a time.

Rozanna Carosella, an IELP instructor and an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Washington member, says the instructors organized primarily to gain more job stability.

"For a bank or a mortgage lender, you are a part-timer,” she explains. “You can't really say that you have a stable, predictable job. So, even if you have been working regularly, steadily, full-time, quarter after quarter, that's a problem."

The university has made what it calls a "last, best and final" offer to the union members, but Carosella says it doesn't change the contract lengths and adds other requirements.

The International and English Language Program works with students who come to UW from other countries, as well as business professionals and graduate students who need English-language skills.

Carosella says other workers at the school have received raises this year, but the instructors’ salaries are tied to whether or not they accept the university's offer.

She adds the instructors' overarching concern is that they feel they're being treated differently than other faculty members.

"I would say, ‘No, it's not fair, and no, it's not reasonable,’” she says. “Anybody, no matter what your job is, would have a little problem with having your status and your security and your salary churn every year. Nobody wants to play musical chairs."

Carosella says two years of negotiating have taken a toll on morale in the department, and have made it harder to recruit and retain instructors.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA