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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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U workers should promote sliding scale

The sliding scale is a viable option and should be discussed in future labor negotiations.

The technical, clerical and health care workers’ unions at the University of Minnesota decided to approve contracts allowing cost increases to UPlan, the employee health insurance program, last week. The unions accepted the increases despite more than four months of heavy opposition and even protests against the cost shifts. The Board of Regents committee will review the contracts Dec. 12.

The cost increases are part of an effort to help the University avoid a $48 million excise tax in 2018, which is included in the Affordable Care Act. The tax, which targets “high-value” insurance plans, is intended to lower premiums by pushing employers to change their plans in a way that discourages consumers from overusing benefits.

In response to the proposed increases, three local AFSCME chapters advocated for a sliding scale model of health insurance premiums, under which premiums would be tied to employee salaries.

The sliding scale model, which is used at other schools, including Dartmouth and Amherst colleges, is a good option. Though there may not have been enough time to implement it this year, University officials should be more willing to negotiate a sliding scale the next time labor negotiations between the University and employees come up.

As the Minnesota Daily Editorial Board noted Sept. 23, the University has historically drawn workers because of its quality health care plan, and potential employees are often willing to accept a lower wage in order to receive crucial benefits.

However, the University’s ability to attract and retain quality employees is jeopardized when benefits are reduced without a comparable wage increase. It’s also unfair to suddenly shift costs onto workers and their families, who have come to rely on the University’s exceptional health plan.

While workers are accepting an increase in costs this year, they should continue to advocate for a sliding scale model.


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