GAU

After more than five months of negotiations, the Graduate Assistants United and UF reached an agreement on health care and are on track to renew their contract for the next three years.

The bargaining unit of GAU, a 4,000-member labor union representing UF’s graduate assistants, and UF came to a tentative agreement on the GatorGradCare health insurance plan May 8, said GAU spokesperson Charles Shields.

Every three years, GAU and UF renew their labor contract, which consists of 26 articles, the most controversial being GatorGradCare, said Shields, a UF political science doctoral candidate.

“If I may paraphrase a certain political figure, ‘Nobody knew (health care) could be so complicated,’” he said. “We knew.”

Shields, 30, said the main victory GAU achieved was a 20-percent cut in costs for dependent premiums, or the cost of health insurance for a graduate assistant's spouse and/or children. He said the disappointment in the agreement was the $10 monthly premium graduate assistants will pay starting August 2018.

“The big takeaway for us here is that we’ve secured GatorGradCare for the next three years,” Shields said. “Graduate assistants don’t have to worry in terms of the national political context with health care.”

Bill Connellan, UF’s chief bargainer, said he feels the two parties reached a solid agreement on health care given rising costs.

“I think the union handled it well,” Connellan said.

As of Monday, Shields said article 10 of 26 was being negotiated. UF and GAU have until June 30 to reach tentative agreements on all 26 articles before the full contract can be voted on through a referendum in July.

Connellan, who said this July 2017 to July 2020 contract will be the second three-year contract he’s negotiated with GAU, said he’s confident they will meet the deadline.

“We’ll either finish it by the end of June — which I hope — or if not then, early July,” he said, “and that would not be a problem.”

Contact David Hoffman at [email protected]  and follow him on Twitter: @hoffdavid123