Labor Relations

Negotiations Recap for April 25, 2012

This recap details the sixth session for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement between the UW and UAW.

UW Follow Up

UW began by thanking the Q Center for providing updated information on transgender ASEs, and presented new cost estimates for UAW’s health benefits proposal based on the new data.

UW Benefits pointed out a dramatic reduction in the projected costs for sexual reassignment procedures in the revised cost estimates.

Parker, Smith & Feek addressed UAW’s questions on differences in the claims pattern, the number of children covered, and the number of appointees between this plan year and past years.

The claims pattern fluctuation resulted from more efficient and timely claims processing by Lifewise, the insurance company that currently administers GAIP, which typically processes claims within 30 days. The previous plan administrator typically processed claims in 90 days.

Lifewise reports the specific number of dependent children per appointee, whereas the previous plan administrator was unable to report dependents in such detail. This increased number of covered children has not resulted in rate changes.

UW Benefits’ research confirmed that the drop in the number of GAIP appointees is likely due to fewer ASEs being hired in the fall of 2011.

UAW Response

UAW expressed displeasure at the revised healthcare cost estimates, stating that the transgender coverage estimates still seem too high.

UW Benefits pointed out that the cost estimates contain two separate non-additive quotes regarding transgender coverage, one that matched the SHIP coverage and one that provided coverage in full.

UAW asked if there could be a third option representing a middle ground between the two.

UW Benefits replied that the cost estimates are a direct response to the questions UAW had asked in its data request, and that if a third option is requested, it is possible to investigate.

UAW expressed that UW Benefits’ projections for the costs of providing unlimited lifetime benefits, removing preexisting condition exclusions, and administering GAIP as a whole, appear higher than the actual cost of each from past years.

Parker, Smith & Feek explained that past claims experience cannot be used to predict future claims risk, especially in light of the significant changes UAW has proposed. UW offered to follow up with the actuaries that calculated these estimates regarding their methodology.

Further Dialogue

UW Benefits confirmed that a representative from UW Financial Accounting will come to the next meeting to discuss the details of payroll load rates. UW promised to provide responses to UAW’s overall proposal at the next meeting.

UW prefaced the next meeting by establishing that one of its defining priorities, in general and in bargaining, is to ensure that the University emerges from the recession in a way that benefits all of its employees.

The next UW/UAW bargaining session is scheduled for April 27.