Over the past year and a half, GAGE members have had hundreds of conversations with graduate workers about issues that matter to them. We will be launching a series of Union Difference pieces around the issues that matter to graduate workers and opportunities to plug into our union.
Union Difference: Healthcare
The first thing we’ve discovered is that there is widespread dissatisfaction with Georgetown’s health insurance benefits. Here’s what we’ve heard: the plan imposes high out-of-pocket costs on graduate workers; it lacks dental and vision care; family and medical leave is virtually non-existent; birth control options are limited; and mental health care is expensive. The plan also has numerous vague and confusing restrictions that make it difficult for graduate workers to understand the basic details of their coverage.
Georgetown recently made some changes to our health insurance that address issues that graduate workers have raised over the past year. We welcome these changes, but we know that the administration can still do better. We also know that having a union is crucial for winning healthcare coverage that meets our needs. Here’s how other grad unions have won better coverage:
At the University of Michigan, the employer pays 100% of dental coverage. Grads also pay a maximum of $700 per year for mental health services and may enroll an unlimited number of dependents in the health insurance at no additional cost.
University of Washington Seattle lowered the maximum amount grads can be asked to pay in out-of-pocket costs per year to $1,200 (compare that with our $5,000 out-of-pocket maximum).
New York University’s contract lowered the annual deductible to $100/year (ours is $200/year) and made dental coverage available at no additional cost to graduate workers.
Brandeis’s new contract contains improvements to mental health care, including a pilot program to embed mental health counselors in graduate spaces on campus (so that grads don’t have to worry about running into their students in the waiting room).
GAGE needs you to join us to fight for better health care. We know that our power to win better coverage is directly related to how much support we have among graduate workers. The more members we have -- and even better, the more active members we have -- the greater our leverage with Georgetown.