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Sunday, November 28, 2021

UF, GAU continue bargain over health care insurance costs

After two weeks of not having bargaining meetings, UF negotiators came forward without a counteroffer to Graduate Assistants United.

At a meeting Monday night in Pugh Hall, members of GAU and UF’s negotiators met with representatives of UF Health to ask questions about health insurance. The union, made up of graduate assistants, has been in talks with UF over health insurance packages since late January, according to Alligator archives.

UF proposed raising the cost of insurance on Jan. 30, and as a response, GAU asked for the cost to remain the same. A planned negotiation session was scheduled after the meeting with UF Health.

Charles Shields, GAU’s communication chair, said UF’s chief bargainer Bill Connellan had nothing new to present, so the meeting was called off. The previous two meetings were canceled due to scheduling conflicts, Shields said.

“We were expecting to do some bargaining after that session was over, and we were disappointed that they didn’t have a counteroffer for us,” Shields said.

University spokesperson Janine Sikes said the university won’t discuss the status of negotiations.

“It is not appropriate to negotiate the terms of a union contract in the newspaper,” Sikes wrote in an email.

Shields said having to wait to negotiate the health care package delays their ability to negotiate other parts of their contract, like stipends and fee relief, which is renegotiated

every three years. He said it’s hard for union members, who are volunteers, to keep taking time from their day.

“Delaying the process is pushing us ever closer to that deadline,” he said, “and we don’t want to be pushed up against the deadline where we’re trying to negotiate everything right at the end.”

Contact Romy Ellenbogen at rellenbogen@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @romyellenbogen

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