A Union Can Protect Your Medical Privacy

Only a union can protect faculty from coercive and intrusive employer demands for biomedical information. That’s what CFA concludes after reading a recent report in Inside Higher Ed.

Beginning this year Penn State will charge faculty members $1200 per year extra for their health insurance if they or their covered spouse/partner does not submit to an annual exam that includes “invasive biometric screening, including a ‘full lipid profile’ and glucose, body mass index and waist circumference measurements.” The official Penn State explanation is available online.

If Penn State gets away with this, then how long before it starts requiring even more information, such evidence of exercise plans from “unhealthy” faculty members? Or perhaps the university administration will insist that faculty with unacceptable lipid levels start taking prescription drugs. Maybe it will ask faculty to submit to DNA screening to predict disease risks.

Only a union can protect faculty from these kinds of employer intrusions into their personal lives and health care decisions. As the article notes, at Penn State “the Senate wasn’t consulted on the plan.”

Only a faculty union (which our colleagues at Penn State do not have) can bargain on health care benefits. We note that our unionized colleagues at Rutgers University have a clause in their contract preventing biomedical discrimination.

Privacy of medical information and decision-making is one more reason why faculty at our campus need a union.