Georgia college workers push for lower health care costs

Georgia State University employee Deb Loden talks to another employee about a proposal by United Campus Workers of Georgia to demand the University System of Georgia stop its plan to increase employee health care costs next year. Loden, who's worked nearly 12 years at the university, said the cost increases are more than her raises. "It's going to get to a point where I can't work here anymore," Loden said. ERIC STIRGUS/ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM.

Employees at five University System of Georgia schools hit the streets on their campuses Wednesday and called colleagues to seek support for their demands that the system rescind its plan to increase worker health care costs next year.

The state's Board of Regents, which oversees University System operations, voted in September to raise employee health care costs. The board also approved a monthly $100 surcharge on working spouses of system employees who choose not to use their own employer's health care plan. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on the surcharge last month.

System officials have said they need to increase costs to cover a 6% increase, about $47 million, in the health care budget this fiscal year, which began July 1.

The group, the United Campus Workers of Georgia, said in a press release the health care cost increases surpass employee merit increases approved earlier this year.

“University System of Georgia says it is responding to climbing costs,” the group said in its press release. “However, passing those costs along to employees was a choice. Employees are being asked to shoulder a disproportionate burden of these costs.”

Georgia State University employee Kate Diedrick (left) talks to a man Wednesday about supporting demands by her group, United Campus Workers, for lower health care costs for University System of Georgia employees. ERIC STIRGUS / ESTIRGUS@AJC.COM

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