The union for graduate assistants at the University of Florida is closer to securing a new health insurance plan for its members for the next three years.
Graduate Assistants United has been bargaining since the beginning of the year to reduce out-of-pocket health care costs under the GatorGradCare program. UF’s Chief Bargainer Bill Connellan said the program is one of the best in the country for graduate assistants, but it’s now running deficits.
“We like GatorGradCare,” he said. “It’s a good program, but it’s just not sustainable in its current form.”
GAU spokesman Charles Shields said that’s not necessarily the case.
“GatorGradCare is actually part of a larger program called GatorCare, which incorporates several different health insurance plans for different categories of university employees,” Shields said. “GatorCare itself is not only solvent, it annually turns a profit.”
GAU and UF administrators came to a tentative agreement this week. The new plan features a 20 percent cut to premiums for graduate assistants with dependents and a 5 percent cap on annual increases.
GAU’s Chief Negotiator Bobby Mermer said there were some wins and losses in the negotiations.
“We are saddened that costs have to raise for everyone in the form of monthly premiums and a new deductible,” Mermer said, adding the group wants to see some of the money return to graduate assistants’ pockets through larger stipends.
GAU and UF administrators will begin to negotiate the full collective bargaining agreement in the coming months.