GTFs, undergrads, faculty, staff, administration, friends and community members, join us for a rally outside Johnson Hall Friday Feb. 14th at noon in support of major dental coverage for all GTFs. Come show your support for a fair contract now for the GTFF! While the university is suggesting potentially eliminating our Health and Welfare Trust we’re marching forward to fight for major dental, parental leave, and wages that cover basic living expenses. Here is a letter from one of our members about the importance of major dental coverage.
I’m writing to speak out about the need for major dental for Graduate Teaching Fellows at the University of Oregon. The UO Administration is so resistant to providing decent dental coverage for their graduate employees, some might think that there was something going on at Johnson Hall beyond the usual penny pinching! We’ve been provided no reasonable justification at the bargaining table for refusing to give their employees major dental coverage. Its obviously not finances as the university continues to accumulate massive surplus in their budgets every year. Some have even started to joke that the administration must be working with the tooth fairy because what other reason could they possibly have to refuse to consider providing major dental. However, I don’t think this is a joking matter. GTFs trying to work with untreated medical conditions is simply not acceptable.
The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation has been in contract negotiations with the University for months now, and the administration has yet to bring a serious response to the table regarding our proposal of major dental coverage for GTFs. We’re not asking for anything extravagant here: just the ability to get such basic procedures as root canals and basic crowns performed. As it stands, GTFs have no coverage for these procedures, which are commonly necessary and are a feature of any serious health plan. Our peers working as teaching assistants at Oregon State University have major dental coverage. But here at the University of Oregon, not only is the administration ignoring our proposal for major dental, they’ve gone as far as to propose having the right to unilaterally dismantle our health and welfare trust that runs our healthcare plan. They claim they’ll replace it with something comparable, but don’t want to negotiate over what that plan would be at the table. Meanwhile GTFs continue to struggle with lacking major dental care coverage and are having to make tough decisions between not getting needed medical services performed or go into serious medical debt to cover the costs. I myself had to have a root canal and crown a little over a year ago, and since the procedure was not covered (and GTFs do not earn enough for basic living expenses, per the University’s own estimates), I had no choice but to pay for that procedure on a credit card, placing me some $1,500 in debt. It was that, or face continuing agonizing pain and the very real possibility of a life-threatening infection. That’s not a choice anyone should have to make. And yet, I know plenty more GTFs facing these decisions regularly. A fellow GTF had a crown that was more than ten years old needing to be replaced, but was unable to afford replacement without coverage. She waited and now the damage is greater, and she’ll need an even more expensive procedure because her dentist says she’ll have to get a much more expensive implant or partial because she delayed the replacement. All because of the lack of major dental coverage for GTFs at the UO!
We’ll be gathering at Johnson Hall on the UO campus this Friday at noon to deliver statements of support for our proposals, along with many campus and community allies to demand an explanation for the administration’s reluctance to seriously engage with this issue. And ultimately we seek to have basic major dental coverage like other campus employees at UO and Oregon State.
GTF, Biology, University of Oregon