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.