Support Wesleyan Clerical Workers

Paul Blasenheim ’12 is calling in a favor from that time I almost died in a BMX dirtbike race (not exaggerated in any way). Socioeconomic issues affect Wesleyan more than you might have previously thought:

You might remember that back in November, clerical staff on campus were forced by a contract with the university and rising health-care costs to take huge increases in the amount of the monthly premium that they pay for their health benefits. This came despite all kinds of concerns about the affordability of the new premium rates and the questionable fairness of the highest-paid staff at Wesleyan paying the same dollar amount as the lowest-paid staff. (See “Health Care Cost Rise Burdens Employees”)

Most clerical staff are members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153, and their contract with Wesleyan expires on June 30th. They begin negotiating with the administration on May 24th, and have the possibility of recovering some of the financial losses sustained by the rise in health care costs by leveraging for other benefits and salary increases. The university also recently announced that it was considering four options for re-structuring how faculty and staff pay for health care that would begin with the next benefit enrollment in November 2011, including both a tiered option and a system based on percentage of income. Both USLAC and Local 153 advocated for such options during the enrolment period in 2010, when it became clear that the rise in costs would disproportionately impact lower-paid staff like clerical workers. The catch now is that the administration has not disclosed which, if any health care option it plans to offer in the fall.

Go on past the jump for the rest of the petition letter (and links to November coverage of the issue), or read the full body and sign it here.

Without this knowledge, the clerical workers’ union will go into negotiations without full knowledge of their impending financial situation. They have no idea whether a monthly premium for a family health care plan will cost as much as around $500, which it currently does, or whether it will drop down to $300 for certain income levels. This makes negotiating a very difficult prospect, as union members cannot anticipate how to best leverage for their financial well-being without knowing how much of their income they will have to spend on health care. As the United Student Labor Action Committee, we call on Wesleyan’s administration to uphold a commitment to transparency to allow the clerical workers’ union a decent chance at negotiating a contract that reflects the economic needs of its members. Unless union members are told what health care payment system will be in place, their negotiations will not be fully transparent.

Please add your name to this letter if you support the valuable work that administrative assistants do on this campus and believe that they should be given the best possible opportunity to negotiate a contract that provides them will full financial security as employees of Wesleyan University.

According to the Argus, the University announced the original change to the health care plans on October 27, 2010. Activism surrounding the issue peaked in November:


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    7 thoughts on “Support Wesleyan Clerical Workers

    1. Anon

      “Socioeconomic issues affect Wesleyan more than you might have previously thought”

      Is this a joke?

    2. fuck trash townies

      awwwww.  the poor townies are complaining again b/c their fucking cushy bullshit jobs actually are starting to push back a little bit?

      never fear!  misguided rich teenagers are here to save them and fight on their behalf, even when no cause is present!  

      1. Anonymous

        I have been at the university for ten years, work very hard and am in one of the busiest departments on campus!  My health insurance benefits went up about half of a rent payment per month, which has made it extremely difficult to support myself and my family.  YOU have no place to judge if you are NEITHER  involved in the situation or know what goes on behind the scenes!

      2. AA

        Mr/Ms. FTT , enlighten us as to what causes in your life are present for you?  Contemplating your next date with Jim Beam? Or maybe you’re one who feels the need to fight the awful injustice your neighbor inficts upon you as he mows his lawn, annoying you during one of your ranting self debates?  Or perhaps your cause is a noble one, yelling about the rising gas prices to the minumium wage attendant pumping your gas guzzler. Obviously you’re above simple causes such as affrodable health care, the rising cost of education or heck, even corporate greed.  I’d like to think it will be one of my grandchildren who’ll be responsible for taking care of your feeding tube in the medicare funded nursing home where you’ll spend your last days. 

    3. Rothhasmall

      Roth strikes again! And he missed. He must be lacking in a particular department, where as it’s not always a tiny issue. 

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