ACSUM Negotiations Update
As you know, your bargaining team has been hard at work preparing and negotiating for a successor collective bargaining contract. While we are in the early stages of negotiations, the bargaining team felt it was important to let members know the positions of the University at the start of the process.
The University from the outset of negotiations stated that their intent was to present a package proposal that would allow the parties to settle the contract quickly. Unfortunately, the University’s actions do not match its words. Despite the recent sacrifices of employees and the willingness of the Association to work collaboratively on health care issues, the University has decided that the employees need to sacrifice more.
Specifically, the University has made the following “package” proposal to ACSUM:
July 1, 2013- .75% increase
July 1, 2014- 1% increase
These wage increases are contingent on drastic changes to the health insurance benefit currently offered.
The exact words from the University’s proposal are:
“The proposed July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014 increases are contingent on the parties coming to a final agreement on the overall resolution of the contract in sufficient time to allow for any health plan modifications, wellness initiatives, or employee contribution adjustments necessary for the employer contribution to healthcare to increase no greater than 4% effective January 1, 2014. The offer of .75% and 1% increases are based on savings anticipated from such agreement and its implementation. UMS reserves the right to modify its July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014 wage proposals should agreement not be reached in sufficient time to achieve the anticipated savings.”
What does all this language mean? It means that the University is only willing to give meager raises if employees agree to absorb all the costs necessary to keep the employer’s health insurance increase to 4% or less. The potential cost increases to you are unlimited.
Under the University’s proposal, employees would be forced into a combination of reduced benefits (increased copays and deductibles, restrictions on procedures, greater restrictions where services are provided etc.), increasingly restrictive and intrusive “wellness initiatives” and/or increased employee contributions; all in order to cap the University’s contribution.
An absolute cap on the University’s health care contributions can only mean one thing;
Drastically increasing costs for YOU!
In addition to the cap on health care contributions, other proposals from the University for health care and retirement are vague. One thing is clear, the proposals envision moving toward the University having total control over all major decisions having to do with health insurance and retirement rather than having health insurance and retirement being subject to negotiations.
The message from the University of Maine System through their initial proposal to ACSUM employees seems clear to the ACSUM negotiations team. The message from UMS is:
You cost too much and you need to get cheaper!
Our next negotiations sessions with the University are scheduled for August 16 and 21.
Your Negotiations Team,