Student-Workers’ Union Wins on Healthcare, Childcare

Important Victories Ahead of Contract Negotiations


UC students, student-workers, and student parents are better off thanks to several key victories that will improve healthcare and childcare at the UC. Thanks to the concerted advocacy of UAW members, student healthcare coverage provided by the UC will meet the quality standards of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and Research Assistants (RAs) will be better able to afford childcare while they work. These wins would not have occurred without the hard work of our members. In recent months, students and student-workers on all UC campuses made their voices heard in sit-ins, marches, petitions, and letters to legislators and administrators that created a grassroots base for change. These efforts pave the way for further gains for students as the UAW enters negotiations with management to win a better contract.

The Affordable Care Act is meant to guarantee the availability of quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans. Unfortunately, the UC was determined to exploit a loophole in the law that allowed student plans to continue to offer substandard care to UC students, including devastating caps on coverage that left hundreds of students without the support of their student insurance plan just when they were sickest. Due to incredible pressure from students and student-workers about this injustice, the UC announced in May that they would eliminate these caps on coverage for all UC students, and would not increase student premiums to pay for debt incurred by past UC mismanagement. Additionally, a petition drive to the federal Department of Health and Human Services spearheaded by union members resulted in a rules change that closes the ACA loophole and ensures quality care for students nationwide (you can read the ruling here [1] – start at page 80). For more information on how your health insurance plan will change in the 2013-2014 plan year, contact the student health center on your campus.

Union advocacy has also won an important new right for RA parents. As you may know, Teaching Assistants and Graduate Student Instructors (TAs/GSIs) that are covered by the UAW contract are eligible for a childcare subsidy that was won through contract negotiations (more information on the childcare subsidy for TAs/GSIs is available here [2]. While RAs do not yet have the right to collectively bargain, the UAW has made RA bargaining rights a central part of the contract campaign, and RAs and other graduate students around the state are continuing to fight for this important right. The public pressure of the RA campaign compelled the UC to extend the childcare subsidy to RAs as well, so RA parents will now have access to this important benefit. If you are an RA and wish to take advantage of this subsidy, please contact your campus graduate division office.

Berkeley RAs can obtain the form for childcare benefits here [3]. If you are aware of the location for forms at other campuses, please e-mail them to

[1] Ruling on the ACA Loophole
[2] Information on Childcare for TAs/GSIs
[3] UC Berkeley Childcare Reimbursement Program for GSRs