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|Municipal Employees to Pay for Healthcare Costs|
By Lookout Staff
September 29, 2010 --A dollar amount has not been established, but all City employees other than police officers in January will begin paying for a portion of the healthcare costs. The City Council voted unanimously for the city manager to finalize a memorandum of understanding with the unions representing the firefighters and non-public safety employees.
A City staff report states the unions had agreed to this following negotiations with City management. The police officers union has a separate agreement with the City on healthcare costs. The agreement will expire at the end of next year. The staff report says it will save the City nearly $1.1 million during the period of the agreement. It is not clear how that amount was determined since it has not been established how much money the employees will contribute, other than that it is a “flat-dollar amount.”
A portion of a reserve/trust account established in 2005 will subsidize a portion of the employees’ contribution. No dollar amount for this is stated in the staff report. Permanent part-time employees will have the option of electing from one of the City-provided HMO medical insurance plans. They could choose the more expensive PPO-type plan, but would have to pay for the cost difference.
The City will “implement a comprehensive wellness program, which will include incentives and services to promote the well being and healthiness of employees,” the staff report states. A portion of the cost to establish and maintain the wellness program will be funded by the reserve/trust account in an amount not to exceed $95,000.
During the term of the agreement, the City will continue to contribute $142 per month on behalf of each employee under the plan.
Adhi Reddy, who is the chair of the union representing Big Blue Bus drivers, had various issues with this plan. He also called out Mayor Bobby Shriver, who has been an advocate of employee contributions to healthcare and pension costs as a way to reduce the budget deficit.
“During your interview before you got elected Mr. Mayor … I believe you said you were going to support labor,” Reddy said. “But I heard the rumors from my other (members of the) board of directors in the negotiation that you were the one pushing for (employees) to pay 10 percent for our medical benefits.”
Shriver responded that employee contributions are needed because the gap between City spending and revenue continues to widen. “I have always tried to be a labor supporter, but this thing is a problem,” said Shriver as he motioned his hands to show the widening gap.
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