Guild members approved a switch to the MVP health-care plan Friday by a vote of 81-31.
The change takes effect January 1. Members will be able to sign up for a health-savings account with Berkshire Bank that will enable them to set aside money before taxes to pay medical costs. These accounts will enable employees to carry moneyover into the next year. If workers leave or retire, they can either cash out the money (paying a tax penalty) or switch to a tax-exempt IRA.
The 112 members voting is a little less than half the membership, though many people who take the health-insurance buyout said they did not want to decide what insurance other employees receive. Others said they were too torn to vote: They didn’t much like the upfront deductible, but they also thought the union had bigger fights on its hands.
Several of the no votes were quite emphatic. One person wrote “Hell No!” on their ballot, while another wrote “Tell the Company (Times Union) to stop messing with the Guild employees!!!!”
“Our members had very serious questions about this switch and about having to pay so much money upfront for medical expenses,” Guild President Tim O’Brien said. “In the end, they decided that the switch was worth doing so long as the employee’s share of the deductible remains where it is as long as we remain in this plan. We do appreciate the Company’s efforts to find ways to reduce the costs, but the real way to solve this crisis is to find a national solution.”