The Guild offered late Friday to either keep our health care just as it is next year or to alter the 90/10 split of medical costs so it starts and ends sooner.
The Guild said it would be willing to have employees start paying 10 percent of medical costs once they have received $1,500 of medical care for an individual or $3,000 for a family.
While that would mean some people start paying sooner, the cap would shift too so that the same numbers apply. The 10 percent share would end after another $1,500 in spending for an individual and $3,000 for a family.
The $750 deductible employees pay initially would not change.
The result would save those with the highest medical bills a little money. More people would save, though a few would spend a little bit more at the lower end.
Both approaches the Guild would accept did not call for the health care costs to explode by a third as the company proposes. Under the company proposal, employees would see their costs rise almost $14 a week.
While union members would see increases of more than 30 percent, the company’s cost would go up less than 13 percent.
Other unions bargaining with the company accepted its argument that “total costs” include paying a percentage of the employer’s hired plan administrator and of the company deductible. But they said it was too much to be asked to assume payment of all that in one year and offered to pay $2 extra a week toward the added cost rather than the $10 extra the company wants.
As Guild President Tim O’Brien noted, each union has its own bargaining history. Our attorney Barbara Camens has reviewed our contract and the imposed conditions and advised us that the company cannot under our circumstances impose changing what has constituted total costs for health care.
Under the contract language still in effect, the company has to offer either the current plan or a comparable one. That’s why In recent years members have voted on changes when the union determined the new plan was not comparable to the previous one.
After the meeting Friday, the Guild found its bulletin from when the high deductible plan was first negotiated in 2008. At the time, the union quoted Publisher George Hearst saying if the deductible increased significantly, the new plan would not be comparable and negotiations would have to occur.
That’s still true.
The parties meet again Monday.