UPTE-CWA E-Bulletin: November 18, 2014

(1) Support Students, Support California: Oppose More Student Fee Increases

Tomorrow students across the state will protest at the Regents meeting in San Francisco and at all campuses tomorrow as the Regents vote on jacking up student fees another 25% over the next 5 years. UPTE-CWA encourages all our members to attend these events where ever possible.

UC President Napolitano and Regent Varner implied in a op-ed column in the Sacramento Bee that they might reconsider the fee increases if the state provided additional funding for the University. Rather than holding our students and future hostage, UC leaders should commit to lowering fees if the state reverses budget cuts over the last years.

Fees at UC have doubled in the last decade. The student financial debt crisis has already eclipsed credit card debt. Students can only cover the excessive cost of higher education by taking loans which are increasing in defaults similar to what happened in the housing crisis.

UPTE-CWA supports a University of California with affordability, accessibility and quality. We call on President Napolitano to take visionary leadership like her predecessor Clark Kerr when he proposed the California Master Plan for Higher Education, creating free higher education for all in state.

Those needing transportation to the Regents meeting from northern California campuses should contact our Higher Education Campaign Director Amy Hines. UPTE-CWA is helping pay for busses to transport members and students to the Regents meeting.

For more information read the San Francisco Chronicle article or sign-up for the alumni against fee hikes facebook page.

(2) Advice On Benefits Open-Enrollment At UC

UC has made some important changes to the health benefits plans this year. We strongly recommend that all members carefully review the costs and coverage to determine what plan suits their needs best.

The cost for UC Care has increases three times as much as other plans. While we welcome UC directing health care to our members providing care in the UC medical centers, this cost increase should have been shared with UC. The UC Care plan also has serious network limitations. If you chose a select provider the plan functions as a HMO, if you chose a network provider you have a 20% co-pay and if you prefer an out-of-network provider you will be charged a 50% co-pay. Many essential prescription medications also have higher costs under UC Care. UPTE-CWA will urge UC to reform this self-funded plan to make it more affordable and consumer friendly next year.

We strongly recommend against members opting for the Blue Shield HSP (Health Savings Plan). This plan works great until you need it. This defeats the purpose of insurance. The upfront costs are much greater than other plans and incentivize us to not seek out necessary or recommended medical care to save on cost.

Again, everyone’s situation is different and you need to carefully read all the information UC provides and select the plan that works best for your needs and resources.

(3) Alternative Election De-brief from UPTE-CWA President

Why did Republicans win office and progressive ballot initiatives pass? Lower voter turnout does not explain why Republicans won control of the US Senate but minimum wage initiatives, reducing prison sentencing and marijuana legalization initiatives passed.

Perhaps voters expressed frustration with Democrats for not taking leadership to resolve the economic malaise that everyone except the super-wealthy still suffer. President Obama prioritized bailing out banks instead of creating jobs. Many Democrats have adopted the growth through austerity mantra of the Republicans. The new jobs pay much less than those before the great recession and most likely only have benefits through the Affordable Care Act and no retirement plan.

What if Democrats had launched a New Deal style jobs campaign? What if Democrats had invested in educational opportunities for youth, unemployed and under-employed? What if Democrats had advocated a health care plan that not only covered millions more but curbed the excessive profits and inefficiency of the insurance industry and health care chains?

Unfortunately, the election results indicate that voters are dissatisfied and disappointed by the Democrats that they swept into office with promises of Hope and Change. Voters still hold firm to progressive values and approve initiatives that make real change. Voters are, however, not convinced that Democrats can or will deliver on those values.

The UPTE E-Bulletin is prepared by UPTE-CWA President Jelger Kalmijn. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to write him at president@upte-cwa.org.