"They say cut-back, we say fight back!"
Borders workers officially went on strike on Saturday and are garnering support by informing folks via their webpage/blog. And with all union action, you know the bourg... I mean the owners of Borders must speak out. The webpage features an exchange between Irfan Nooruddin which is very good. Want more details? Go to the weblink. By the way, when did the term living wage go out of style, or have the controllers of the means of production always thought it was mythical?
The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) is also in the middle of a pending battle with the U and healthcare. The issue involves the levying of premiums onto GSIs, and others under the contract, which fundamentally violates labor law in the US. Labor law in the US sucks, so the mandate to negotiate in certain areas is highly regarded, or in this case disregarded. Rackham Student Government (RSG) has been in the middle, well not in the middle anymore if you read their statement, of this controversy between administration and graduate students. Now it as Cedric DeLeon stated so well, the administration is trying to "divide and conquer." Please read the correspondence below:
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 07:58:00 -0500
From: Rackham Student Government
To: Rackham Student Government Announcement List
Subject: **HEALTHCARE PREMIUM UPDATE**
Below you will find a personal letter written to me from Provost Paul Courant. I caught up with him and decided to question him personally about the changes in healthcare and the promised forthcoming clarification of cost for students. Several campus-wide meetings have already taken place to openly discuss this information, but you were not clearly informed because the dates/location/etc. were published in The RECORD - and who really reads that? I told him that he needs to make sure that RSG gets this information first-hand so that students will be sure to be in attendance.
More to come...
On your behalf,
Here is the information that you and I talked about the other day.
There are three groups of graduate students who are eligible for health
insurance with a University contribution:
1. Approximately 1655 graduate students who receive
departmentally-sponsored fellowships also receive GradCare. The
premium amounts that they currently pay are zero for single contracts
and two-person contracts and $20 per month ($240 per year) for coverage
for three or more persons. There is no change in practice for this
group scheduled for 2004, and the Committee on Health Insurance Premium
Design (CHIPD) only addressed the circumstances of employees, and hence
made no recommendation for change for this group.
2. Approximately 1550 GSRAs currently subscribe to GradCare, which is
the only insurance for which they are eligible. In 2004, members of
this group will pay $12 a month for single contracts (which are about
3/4 of the cases), $23 per month for two-person contracts (about 18% of
the cases), and $27 per month for three or more persons. If the CHIPD
recommendations are followed, all of these amounts will likely be
somewhat lower in 2005. Single contracts would be approximately $5 a
month ($60 a year); coverage for two adults would cost the employee
about $10 a month ($240 a year) and three or more persons would pay a
total of $25 a month, or $300 a year. (The numbers for 2005 cannot be
known with certainty yet so these amounts are estimates only.)
3. Approximately 1200 GSIs and GSSAs receive health insurance through
their employment with the University. The vast majority of these are
in GradCare (and all of them are eligible for GradCare), and their
circumstances are thus identical to the GSRAs discussed in the previous
paragraph. That is, the maximum employee premium cost for 2005 would
be for family coverage, and would be approximately $300 a year. The
vast majority (78%) of this group are in single coverage and would pay
about $60 a year. There are 14 GSIs who elected Blue Cross/Blue Shield
in 2003. If they do not move to a more economical comprehensive plan,
their costs will rise sharply. But all of the rest of the 4400 plus
graduate students with University insurance coverage face cost
increases that are $300 a year or less, with the vast majority much
I hope that this is helpful. Please feel free to contact me if you
want more information.
The University remains committed to providing excellent insurance
coverage for graduate student employees and fellowship holders, and to
providing the lion's share of the cost of such coverage. I trust that
we can work together to continue to make this commitment as effective
Paul N. Courant
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1340
THIS JUST IN.... here is a response to Courant's message from Aaron Boros:
Hello DeAunderia and RSG,
I want to point out that Provost Courant's projected figures for the future
are extremely unlikely. Using the same figures the Provost is available here among
other places, you see that in 2004, the actual contributions for GSIs,
GSRAs, and GSSAs will be:
Univ: $226 Emp: $12 Total: $238
The projections he refers to are for 2004, and show these figures:
Univ: $220 Emp: $5 Total: $225
Somehow, this includes a 7.5% drop in premiums for the same coverage in the
same year (they both are based on 2004 premium charges).
Now, consider that (by the University's hypothesis), premiums are rising at
15% per year. That means that the total in 2005 will actually be around
$274. The University will likely pay a larger portion (due to the 5%
formula they are using), but the cost to students will undoubtedly be more
than the $5 he suggests -- probably more in the range of $21/mo. or nearly
If you are interested in hearing more about these figures, I would be happy
to discuss them, as I am very familiar with the University's plans. Also,
see the attached spreadsheet.
Finally, I would like to point out that the changes for _2004_ were made by
executive fiat in the Provost's office. There was no committee that
designed this premium charge, and there was no representation in the
decision-making process of *any* employee, let alone graduate students.
The changes for 2005 were made by a committee that had no graduate student
representation whatsoever, and no employee representation below the level
of associate professor.
As secretary of GEO, I look forward to working together in the future with
RSG to make sure that we share our information and to best represent the
interest of graduate students at the University.
MPP/JD Candidate 2006
Ah, gotta love drawing lines in the sand. So who is gonna ask Courant when the premiums will be levyed on other groups of grad students?
Speaking of lines in the sand, there are a couple of great events happening tonight.
HEADS, SIS2SIS, and SAPAC, and other orgs are sponsoring a film entitled, "NO!" by Aishah Shahidah Simmons. The film explores the silence around domestic violence in the Black community. Ms. Simmons will be in attendance to discuss the film afterwards.
Tuesday November 11th, 2003
7-9pm, East Hall Auditorium, Room 1324
Aché! Drums and Women in the African Diaspora
Tue, Nov 11, 4-6 pm
Michigan League, Vandenberg Room, 2nd Floor, 911 N. University Ave.
A public symposium featuring famed members of Les Rosettes, an all-female
drumming troupe from Dakar, Senegal. Panelists include Detroit-based
drummers Kahemba Kitwana and Jahra McKinney-Hakamma, U-M Chair of Music
Education Carol Richardson, U-M Professor Kelly Askew, moderated by
Elizabeth James, Program Associate, U-M Center for AfroAmerican and African
Studies and translated by Mame-Khady Diouf, U-M student.
DouDou N'Diaye Rose and Les Rosette will be performing Tuesday, November
11, 8pm, Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor. For tickets, please call 734-764-2538
or visit the UMS webpage at www.ums.org.
Also, tonight there will be a Power Moves meeting, unfortunately, I can't find the time and place, but I'll put it up when I find it!
I recently recieved this email from a friend who is the president of the Black Graduate Student Association at Northwestern University about hate crimes that have been occuring. Here is an article about the demonstrations.
Attention Northwestern Community:
As you may or may not know, Northwestern University has experienced a
plague of hate crimes specifically targeted towards members of minority
communities, including Asians, Muslims, African Americans, Jews, and the
Latino community. One of the most recent incidents was directed towards a
freshman named Xander Saide, who is a resident of Chapin Hall. Last
Tuesday night he discovered the words "Die Spic" on his poster and the
wall near his room door. On Friday night he was physically attacked with a
knife and once again referred to with racially derogatory words. As the
Latino community we cannot stand aside and allow racially targeted or
violent actions occur against anyone in the Northwestern community.
Tonight, the Coalition of Colors, along with other cultural organizations,
and concerned NU students, decided that we must unite as a community and
take immediate action in response to the hate crimes on our campus. Our
first action will unite the minority students on campus --- students of
color, cultural and religious backgrounds, or anyone who feels they have
faced discrimination or marginalization--- by wearing black from head to
toe. In addition, through a vow of silence for the entire day, we will
show what the NU campus would be like if there were no minorities
here. We strongly encourage and request that you participate in this
peaceful demonstration against the recent threats against our various
cultural, religious and NU communities. We also suggest that you wear tape
across your mouth to emphasize your silence as well as wear a label
indicating your specific identity/minority. Our second action will be on
Wednesday that will unite the entire NU community in a similar method.
Everyone will be invited to wear black during the day and in the evening,
we will trade in our black attire and replace it with NU gear, symbolizing
the solidarity of the NU community. We will rally at the rock on Wednesday
night and voice our concerns. This is only the beginning of a long
struggle and we ask that you show your support through participation.
Alianza Executive Board
Remember all of our struggles are connected by necessity, not by choice!
And speaking of our struggle. I thought that Halloween had passed for the first time in a number of year without huge Blackface issues. It seems blackface is one of the most common Halloween costumes ...honestly. A Louisiana judge managed to piss on my overt racism free parade when his story of dressing up in black face, an afro, and an orange prison jumpsuit made the news.
Okay, onto the national political scene! Wesley Clark... yeah he scares me, but he is engaging the hip-hop generation like no one else ......... Get yourself to a computer with quicktime or video viewer and look at this!!! Thanks CH for this link!!!!!
From hip-hop to Rock and politics. Last night, the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Detroit opened up. The article here does clown Kwame Kilpatrick for having a 5XL leather jacket! And what is with Kwame and the word dynamic?
Okay, back to hip hop, I mean rap. Now 50 cent may not be the anti-Christ, but I'm still skeptical. 50 has agreed to meet with Farrakhan to discuss his beef with Ja Rule. The interview hasn't been scheduled.
Aight, that's all I'm gonna write on my blog for right now!!!!!