Former Daily editorial page editor and my friend Nick Woomer has become involved in a labor struggle at the University of Minnesota where he is attending law school. AFSCME Local 3800, the union which represents clerical workers at the University, may go on strike tomorrow over unresolved contract issues. The union wants the University to agree to wage increases for seniority, job security provisions, and not to cut their healthcare benefits significantly. In his role helping organize support for the Union, Woomer has penned an op-ed piece for the student newspaper, and even rushed the stage during an administrator’s speech to deliver a petition.
If the issue sounds strangely familiar, it’s because it should: the University of Michigan has been quietly cutting the healthcare benefits of its employees here in Ann Arbor. Read about it more on GEO’s website, or this Ann Arbor News Article from September 12th:
“In the first step of what could be a three-fold increase in health care costs in coming years, most University of Michigan employees will have to pay monthly premiums in 2004, according to the school.
As faculty members and staffers have returned to work this school year, the university has been detailing the costs for employee health insurance plans. U-M currently pays the full medical benefits for 70 percent of employees and retirees, including anyone with individual coverage.
More than 28,000 employees and nearly 6,000 retirees get health insurance through the university.
Beginning in January, most will pay 5 percent of medical premium costs, with the university paying the balance. Nationwide, health care costs jumped nearly 14 percent in 2003. And if rates continue to rise as expected, U-M workers could pay up to 15 percent of their premium costs in the next two to three years, the university said. “