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November 1, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Mayor, legislators urge UW to settle labor dispute with language teachers

Five Democratic state legislators and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn are calling on the University of Washington to settle a long-running contract dispute with the university’s International English Language faculty.

The 70 faculty members, who are represented by the American Federation of Teachers, teach English language skills to international and non-native English speakers who are enrolled in a variety of UW programs, including academic and professional certificate programs. It serves about 3,500 students.

The contract negotiations have stalled, and in their letters, lawmakers are pressuring the university to go to mediation.

Rozanna Carosella, a-full-time extension lecturer with the program, said instructors have not received a raise in six years, and the contract has been under negotiation for nearly two years.  About 70 percent of the teachers — who have, at a minimum, a master’s degree — make about $3,200 a month for 11.5 months of work, which is about half the amount they would make if they taught English language learners in public school, Carosella said.  The contract would increase those salaries to $3,600 per month;  instructors already making that amount would get a 2 percent raise.

She said one of the group’s biggest concerns is a proposal by the university to rank instructors using a priority hiring list that would give only those rated in the top 30 percent an annual contract. The others would get either a nine-month contract or a quarter-to-quarter contract.

The language faculty would also like to create a career ladder, for those who have worked in the program for many years and have topped out of the salary scale.

University spokesman Norm Arkans said the university is bargaining in good faith, but declined to go into any details.

In their letter, the five Seattle-area legislators wrote that “a system which offers employment to 66 percent of the teachers for only the next quarter or part of a year based on quarterly student evaluations, without professional teaching evaluation and development, does not sound as if it would promote either professional development or serve students.”

It was signed by two members of the House Higher Education Committee — chair Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, and Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle — and three other House members: Bob Hasegawa, Maralyn Chase and Gael Tarleton.

0 Comments | More in Education | Topics: University of Washington

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