Newsletter of the George Washington University
- Health Insurance 2015: At Best a Mixed Bag for GW Faculty and Staff
- GWUFA Supports Staff Protest of Tuition Benefit Reductions
- Focus on the Budget: What are the GW Administration’s Priorities?
- Faculty Code Revision: GWUFA Remains Vigilant
- GWUFA’s Inside/Outside Strategy
- GWUFA in the News
- Other Articles of Interest
View as PDF or read more here:
One of the reasons GWUFA was founded was to protest the huge increases in medical insurance premiums that GW faculty have had to pay, even while our out-of-pocket expenses under those plans were drastically increased. Over the past two years, faculty medical insurance expenses have increased by 52%, so that we now receive significantly worse coverage than that offered by similar universities. The drastically higher co-pays are especially alarming because they are the what faculty pay for every visit to a medical provider:
|Georgetown PPO||U. of Maryland PPO||Boston Univ. PPO||GWU Medium PPO|
|Primary care co-pay||$20||$15||$20||$25|
|Family deductible in network||$1000||$0||$0||$1000|
|Family deductible out of network||$2000||$500||$1000||$1500|
|Percent of out-of-network expenses paid by plan||75%||70%||80%||60%|
The main reason for these differences is that GW spends less on faculty benefits than its competitors: GW spends 25 cents on our fringe benefits for every dollar it spends on salary, while B.U. spends 29 cents, Georgetown spends 35 cents, and even A.U. spends 27 cents.
Another reason for our below-average medical plan is that the Board of Trustees increases the amount GW pays for our benefits by only 3% per year, regardless of how much those costs actually increase. Faculty are willing to pay their fair share of cost increases, but we feel the university should shoulder at least an equal proportion of the burden. The Board has passed the bulk of benefit price increases onto faculty members, while protecting the record-setting bonuses it lavishes on top administrators.
GWUFA is trying to put pressure on university administrators to improve faculty benefits. At the behest of our members, the Faculty Senate unanimously passed a resolution urging the Board of Trustees to devote more money to faculty benefits in 2015. The trustees chose to ignore this senate resolution, however, and the university plans to raise the medical insurance premiums on existing plans another 4% in the coming year. GWUFA will continue to lobby to win a better benefits package for all faculty, but we can only succeed if you:
1) Tell your colleagues about how GW’s faculty benefits stack up against other universities.
2) Make your unhappiness about your benefits known whenever you speak to administrators.
3) Recruit new members to GWUFA. Every new member adds weight to our call to offer benefits to GW faculty that are just as good as those offered by similar universities. You can talk about our goals, print out materials from our resources page, and encourage colleagues to signup online.
Last week, the newly elected GWUFA steering committee held its first meeting. The steering committee was elected by a majority of the association at the beginning of the summer, in an election which we also approved the association’s bylaws.
In accordance with the bylaws, the steering committee elected officers for the association. The officers are:
President: Andrew Zimmerman
Vice President: Katrin Schultheiss
Secretary: Benjamin D. Hopkins
Treasurer: Rachel Riedner
We also discussed strategies and activities for the year. Some of the highlights include:
1) GWUFA will hold a general meeting of the membership on Wed., Sept. 17, 11:30-12:30, Teamster’s Room, 7th floor, Gelman Library.
2) We will have our first annual party at Tyler Anbinder’s house (1601 N Edgewood St., located near the metro in Arlington) on Sunday, September 21st, 3-5PM. We will send details and directions later.
3) We will have regular GWUFA happy hours near campus next year for current members and any faculty member interested in GWUFA
4) We will have a newsletter for members, a twitter feed, a video series, and we will continue to recruit new members.
Try to recruit a new member this month. New members can signup on our website here.
We continue to work to improve our benefits and compensation, focusing still on rising health insurance costs. Look for a full report from us soon on that.
We will also continue to monitor and shape the ongoing revision of the faculty code in accordance with the goals and principles of GWUFA.
I hope you have a great summer. On behalf of the entire steering committee, I look forward enthusiastically to working with you, and on your behalf, during the upcoming academic year.
Below is information regarding two votes that will soon take place.
First, the George Washington University Faculty Association is currently soliciting nominations for its Steering Committee. As indicated in the proposed bylaws and discussed at the May 14 meeting, this committee will consist of between 5 and 15 members, each of whom will serve two year, staggered terms. We are hoping to elect 15 members now, some for one-year and some for two- year terms. If you would like to volunteer or nominate a colleague, please send the names and email addresses by May 21.
Second, we also would like to vote on and accept a formal set of bylaws. Ballots will be sent out electronically by June 15 with further instructions.
GWU Faculty Association
A new and independent voice for faculty concerned about
the future of George Washington University
Open to all full-time GWU faculty
General Meeting: May 14, 2014
Teamsters Labor History Research Center
7th floor, Gelman Library
If you are you concerned about
- The future of shared governance
- Administrative policy priorities
- Rising health insurance costs
- Proposed revisions to the faculty code
Come to our meeting on May 14! Bring your friends and colleagues!
Browse this site to sign-up and learn more about the organization.
We wanted to let you know about some progress that we just made on our efforts to roll back the 52% increase in the amount GW faculty pay for health care under our insurance plans over the past two years. These efforts, as you know, began with a petition we organized, signed by 165 full time faculty members, over 10% of the total faculty members.
We initially presented this petition to the provost, but found little support for our demands. However, at last Friday’s senate meeting, after a presentation by steering committee member Tyler Anbinder demonstrating how poor GW health insurance coverage has become in comparison to other universities, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling on GW to increase the percentage of its contribution to the cost of our healthcare coverage without reducing the pool for merit increases in salary. Please see the article in today’s Hatchet for more on the Senate session, described by the Hatchet as “a rare backlash against administrative policies.”
We consider this a major victory for GWUFA and for our petition.
However, we are not confident that the University Administration will act on this unanimous resolution of the senate without continuing pressure and support from GWUFA. Therefore it is imperative to increase our membership to turn this early success into better benefits for all GW employees. If you haven’t signed up for GWUFA already, please do. If you have signed up, please recruit one more member. You can sign up yourself and your new recruits here.
And please attend our meeting this Wednesday, May 14, at 1PM in the Teamsters Labor History Research Center on the 7th floor of Gelman Library.
The GWU Faculty Association is pleased that the Faculty Senate, at least partly in response to the petition that we organized this fall, has taken up the issue of the alarming increases in health insurance costs to GW employees. We are encouraged by the thrust of a resolution proposed for the next senate meeting, but we are also concerned that, as it currently stands, it allows for a decrease in the salary merit pool to cover some of these rising costs.
Our petition characterized the 52% increase in the amount GW faculty pay for health care under our insurance plans over the past two years (from $9,800,000 in 2012 to $14,900,000 this year) as a hidden salary cut. We were not, of course, demanding that this hidden salary cut be replaced with an open salary cut.
The GWU Faculty Association will not normally take positions on specific senate resolutions. However, because a resolution on health insurance that will come up at Friday’s meeting is at least in part a response to our petition, we want to make clear that any resolution that reduces employees’ salary merit pool in exchange for an increase in university contributions to our health insurance is contrary to both the letter and the spirit of our petition.
We hope that, at the Senate Meeting on Friday, May 9, the resolution will be amended so that it does not offer any cuts to our salary merit pool.
While we are pleased to see the recent coverage in the Hatchet about the GWUFA, there are a few inaccuracies in the story we feel are worth pointing out. Nearly all are obvious from a quick perusal of our website – in particular, see our goals or, better still, all full-time faculty are invited to join us for our next meeting.
- We are not a faculty lobbying organization. Rather, we are an independent faculty voice upholding the core values of the University and speaking out on issues of central importance that affect the quality of academic life for students and faculty.
- We do not have, nor do we seek an adversarial relationship with the Faculty Senate, the University Administration, the Board of Trustees or any other body. Our relationship with these, and other institutional bodies, is determined by how closely their actions and attitudes correspond with our stated principles.
- We do not seek to usurp the role of the Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate is an institutional body of the University. We are not. Instead, we are part of the University community’s civil society. We believe a strong and robust civil society, which can both empower and hold to account the University’s institutional structure, is fundamental to the University’s health.