We met again for a short session with the University’s bargaining team at the end the week. After making brief, non-comittal references to our proposals on childcare, fee waivers, and class ratios, UW spent most of the time discussing the health care plan. Increasingly UW is focusing on the costs of GAIP premiums next year, and claiming that the cost of funding the plan with no changes will make it difficult to agree to any of our proposals.

We disagree strongly with this position. As you know, we discovered last year that the University has badly mismanaged the plan – to the tune of millions of dollars in overpaid premiums – and we’ve been arguing strenuously that ASEs should not be held responsible for covering the costs of this mismanagement. Moreover, the historical cost of premium increases for the GAIP has been remarkably stable – averaging 7% per year since 2002. The University’s premium estimate for next year is suspiciously high and has been a moving target (their most recent quote is about 14%, or $1.4 million dollars). But it also follows a year in which premiums decreased in cost by a little more than 1%.

The upshot: although the University saved money on the plan in 2010/2011, and overpaid millions in previous years, they’re balking at funding next year’s premiums in a manner consistent with their practice for nearly 10 years.

Moreover, the University continues to present cost estimates on our proposed health care benefit enhancements that we consider highly inflated. Despite evidence we present to the contrary, the University insists that their estimates are legitimate. Finally the University is raising more concerns about settling the contract by April 30th without a clear picture of the state budget – particularly given the announcement of a special session by the Governor on Friday. We believe it’s possible to reach an agreement by the 30th, even under these economic circumstances.

Help move this process forward by joining us at our action this Wednesday! RSVP here.

Thank you for your recent showings of support – we’re really bolstered by membership feedback and involvement during this critical time. As always, let us know if we can address any specific questions or concerns.

– UAW 4121 Bargaining Committee