KU grad students turn to union for protection from Obamacare

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • The University of Kansas says it may limit grad students to 20 hours of work per week to avoid providing health insurance to its grad students.
  • Students are attempting to revive a defunct union to protect them from the cuts.
  • University of Kansas (KU) graduate students are attempting to resurrect a long-inactive union to protect them against losing work hours due to Obamacare.

    The Affordable Care Act requires employers to provide health insurance to employees working 30 or more hours per week — and KU has announced it may limit students’ to 20 hours per week in order to avoid the cost.

    "We need real input. We're real employees. We're grown people."   

    Hundreds of students have responded with petitions to protest the policy according to the Lawrence Journal World, a local news source — but some have decided that that is not enough, and are seeking the backing of the Graduate Teaching Assistants Union.

    The union, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, has long been inactive on campus but the potential hour cuts have inspired attempts to resurrect it.

    "It was clear we didn't really have a voice," Laurie Petty, a Ph.D. student in sociology, told the World.

    Diane Goddard, KU vice provost for administration and finance, assured the students involved that the school would consider their input — but the students say they need a union to ensure that their opinions are taken seriously.

    “We need a strong union," said Shane Wilson, another Ph.D. student in sociology. "We need real input. We're real employees. We're grown people."

    Wilson said he himself has signed up about 20 members himself since April, and the group is actively working to recruit more.

    Both Wilson and Petty will be involved in negotiations with the school.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter @kctimpf