by Maury Koffman, APA President
Look around you. While fully funded health care is a cultural norm at MSU, with no out-of-pocket monthly premium, few places of employment offer the same quality of care and access as bargained by our union for members on campus. But, our benefits did not come without a fight.
In the last round of contract negotiations, the University spent months trying to jam through what they called a ‘consumer driven health care plan.’ In function, what it meant was a high deductible plan that would have required members to pay the first $4,000 for single coverage or $8,000 for family coverage before insurance would kick in.
Additionally, they were pushing for a total elimination of prescription drug coverage and a 20% co-insurance for all costs above the deductible. That co-insurance would have meant that in a catastrophic medical incident that cost $250,000, the individual
would suffer a second injury when hit with a $50,000 co-insurance health care bill. I don’t know about you, but I’m not familiar with any APA member who could absorb an $8,000 deductible, let alone a $50,000 medical bill, without it drastically impacting the member’s life.
In addition to fully funded health care through December 31, 2017, the APA is proud to have negotiated wage increases each year and additional lump sum bonuses. The APA contractually negotiated salaries work as a floor and there is no ceiling. The intention is to ensure all union members receive recognition for their contributions on campus by guaranteeing a wage increase.
In 2014, APA members received an October 2% base wage increase and an additional lump sum payment of $1,032 earlier in that year in January. For most members, that equated to roughly a 4% wage enhancement in 2014.
In 2015, APA members are slated to receive a January lump sum payment of $961 and an October base wage increase of 2.5%, yet again equating to another 4% wage enhancement in one year.
We all have a passion and love for MSU. And we all want to believe that the University will do right by its employees. The harsh reality is that MSU is still an employer, with a billion dollar annual budget, and the union is the only way to balance the power and have an equal voice to ensure a fair and equitable workplace.
A strong union with an active membership is our only opportunity to have a forum that compels MSU to engage us and address member benefits and concerns.
If you ask me, our union dues are a great bargain when compared to my wage increases each year, lump sum bonuses, fully funded health care, and a vibrant 403(b) retirement program among many other benefit.
Again I say, look around you. Where unions don’t exist or have reduced power, the benefits we realize at MSU are not even a consideration. I cherish what my union has negotiated for me. It impacts my life everyday. And that’s why I am so proud to be a member of the APA.