U of T offers benefit cuts for CUPE 3902 members – The Varsity
The Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3902 (CUPE 3902), which represents university contract workers at U of T, is currently in talks with U of T regarding proposed cuts to health care benefits for members of Unit 1. The cuts, if passed, would affect undergraduate and graduate teaching assistants (TAs), as well as lecturers.
Currently, claims on Unit 1 health plans exceed available university funding. According to a U of T spokesperson, the Unit 1 collective agreement requires the university and CUPE Local 3902 to review benefit levels “with the common intention of adjusting benefit levels.” ‘advantages… [benefit] plans.”
While considering alternative plans to mitigate potential overspending, the university is committed to three principles: adjust currently used benefits, preserve heavily used coverage as much as possible, and limit the impact of cuts by extending cuts. benefits to a broader base.
The university offered two options for modifying the current health plan. The first option is to introduce a 10% reduction in dental care, a 50% reduction in vision, a 10% reduction in mental health services and a 35% reduction in Health Care Spending Accounts (CCS). ) – credits that employees can use to pay for health, dental, and dental care not covered by their plan. In total, the cuts are expected to save the U of T about $413,000 while affecting about 5,000 recipients.
The second proposed option would reduce dental coverage by 12%, completely eliminate vision and reduce SCC by 35%. With this option, the university expects to save approximately $410,000, which will affect approximately 4,500 applicants.
Doctoral candidate Chen Zhong is one of many teaching assistants who the proposed cuts would have a direct impact on. In an email to the universityZhong wrote, “As [world-renowned] university for its claimed support of diversity and inclusion, U of T senior management should seriously reconsider its proposal to cut health benefits for us contract university workers.
As a racialized international student, Zhong believes that “maintaining health care benefits is critical to protecting marginalized and racialized faculty from the culture of overwork.” She added that “if the reduction is implemented, we will indirectly be FORCED to work more hours, which is likely to distract us from pursuing our research, other academic and life goals.”
Established in 1973, CUPE 3902 was the first legally recognized union for teaching assistants in North America. Over the past 50 years, the union has signed 19 collective agreements with the university and has struck four times for contracts.
CUPE 3902 joins other unions, student coalitions and U of T employees to oppose tuition increases, minimize the effects of provincial cuts on U of T employees and promote balanced governance that favors students as well as employees.
CUPE 3902 is organizing against proposed cuts to health care. In an email to the universityCUPE 3902 president Amy Conwell said the coverage cuts would hurt more than 9,000 student workers in the union’s Unit 1 division, as well as the Unit 7 division.
Unit 7, formerly known as CUPE Local 3907 represents nearly 300 graduate assistants at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Even if a student has held a graduate assistant position in the past year, they are still considered a member of CUPE 3902 Unit 7. According to the CUPE 3902 website, the collective agreement for Unit 7 focuses on the “rights and responsibilities of the union, the members of the bargaining unit and the employer”.
“Working students are under immense pressure to make ends meet while completing their studies. Add the ongoing mental health crisis at the University of Toronto, the pandemic, and now inflation and many student-workers are barely keeping afloat,” Conwell added. “A reduction in benefit levels would result in additional financial pressure and unmet medical needs, and so we are looking to find a way forward that maintains current benefit levels.”
Members of the affected divisions, Units 1 and 7, have drawn up a “multi-step joint plan” to oppose any cuts in benefits. “The University can expect an exceptionally organized student-worker base in the next round of bargaining and strike preparation,” Conwell wrote.