Unions strike bargain to move to MVP
The unions at the Times Union agreed Thursday to switch to MVP for next year’s health care after a deal was struck where the Company will pay the difference if two people in a household exceed the current $6,850 out-of-pocket maximum.
Rather than face the potential $8,000 maximum – although $3,250 of that is reimbursed by the company – the members would not have to pay any more than they do now.
The potential risk of that higher out-of-pocket maximum for families with multiple people facing serious illness was the major concern the Teamsters union and the Guild had with the proposal.
The company’s insurance manager said of the 7 people who hit the top of the out-of-pocket maximum this year, two were individuals and 5 were in family plans. In all five cases, one person in the family was the large claimant and no one else in the family spent more than $1,000 on health care. That means that no family would have faced the $8,000 out-of-pocket maximum as proposed by MVP. Still, the past is no predictor of the future so there was no guarantee.
Credit goes to Stefan Krueger of the Teamsters union, who hit upon the idea of asking the Company to pay the difference if that scenario were to arise. The Company had said keeping Blue Cross would cost it $68,000 more a year, a cost it would look to make up elsewhere like cutting another reporter or press worker.
Moving to MVP would cause a weekly increase out of paychecks of $4.04, from $58.90 a week to $62.94.If we stayed with Blue Cross, the weekly premium would rise $5.54 to $64.44.
MVP is also willing to guarantee that the health care increase next year would start at no more than 14.5 percent. While that is larger than we would like, Blue Cross this year started at 29 percent. Given the great uncertainty as to what will happen next year, it is a benefit to have some limit for 2018.
Have we given up on the idea of a full contract settlement? It seems to me there is no incentive for the company to even negotiate when any changes they wish to make are settled separately from full contract negotiations. Maybe I am mistaken and we are close to an agreement…
No, John. We have not given up on negotiating a full settlement. In fact, we are in the process of building and creating a mobilizing structure. It’s not enough as you know to go in just to bargain. You have to make sure that you have a structure in place so that members can show their support. We’re trying to do this much more effectively than we did last time.
As for health care, unfortunately that decision must be made anew every fall so that people have insurance for the following year.
You’ll be hearing more about our efforts to effectively mobilize soon.