On Thursday, April 11, a protest organized by a campus movement known as IU on Strike ended with at least two students being arrested. One of the many requests of the group was an end to the employee wage freeze.
The protestors certainly could not be happy that later in the month, officials from the University would release and distribute via email statements informing relevant parties of their plans in preparation for the Affordable Care Act.
As of July 1, 2013 Indiana University will no longer have any full-time hourly employees. This includes:
Hourly (temporary, seasonal, student, work study), with or without retirement -- number of hours worked shall be limited to 29 hours per week, effective July 1, 2013 -- no eligibility for medical coverage
The statement would go on to explain that the University would consider an exemption for student employees if the IRS would allow an exemption for students.
Although employers have been utilizing this tactic for many years in order to reduce their health care expenses, the ACA has led many employers to take additional measures to circumvent ACA regulations.
While one person's "complying" is another person's "circumventing," there is no doubt that many people including financially disadvantaged students, will have less income now to support themselves, a family, and their education.
With the future of federal financial aid and Pell Grants always at stake with a Republican-led Congress pulling the purse strings, it is safe to assume that with a University intent on cutting student employee hours that some will not be able to further pursue their "Path to Prosperity."
There seems to be no end in sight to the rising costs of higher education, and no end to the efforts of those institutions we trust to foster growth to take away the financial means of willing students.
While the IRS seeks to close loopholes such as this and continues to propose new regulations, the actions taken by Indiana University are an unfortunate consequence of the ACA. Actions such as these must provide motivation for progressive organizations who have maintained the fight for single-payer or Medicare-for-all health care reforms.
While we know and recognize Indiana University as a learning institution capable of providing an excellent education, we must accept that Indiana University is also an employer only willing to provide to their employees just that which they can get away with.
While a few universities have taken similar actions, there are dozens more that have taken steps to provide even greater benefits to their valued employees. These actions are not the norm, they are an exception and says a great deal about any organization that would implement these measures.