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Negotiation Updates - August 20, 2014

While we write this both bargaining teams are on a short break. We met until nearly 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19. The bargaining teams mutually agreed to not meet Thursday, Aug. 21. Due to the absence of two critical Western team members, the teams are also not meeting Tuesday, Aug. 26.

We’re pleased to report that this past week has been one of continued progress toward our goal of a mutually beneficial faculty Agreement. Obviously, in order to be mutually beneficial, it means that neither party gets everything it wants; both parties have to compromise.

In the spirit of compromise, we’re happy to report that the parties reached a tentative agreement on Article 16, Evaluation of Professional Competence. Also, prompted by mutual concerns over low online ICES response rates, the parties are close to agreement on a “letter of agreement” to convene a joint committee on the evaluation of teaching at WMU.

Western has now made two health insurance proposals. Our most recent proposal on Aug. 19 would not change retiree health insurance benefits for any current Western faculty retiree or any current member of the bargaining unit. It also proposes no changes to the current health insurance plan design (i.e., deductibles, out of pocket maximums, copays, etc. would see no changes from current levels) unless required by Blue Cross Blue Shield. To help Western contend with ever-escalating health insurance costs--and like most other employers in the U.S.--we did propose modest and gradual increases in employee premium contributions over the life of the Agreement.

We are pleased with the parties’ recent progress and appreciate the respectful and thoughtful discourse presented by both bargaining teams. We view this short pause as an opportunity for both teams to prepare for the final push to achieve a successor Agreement prior to Sept. 6. To that end, we look forward to our continued meetings with the WMU-AAUP team.

We will continue to keep the University community posted on our progress.