August 11, 2010

Health care bargaining starts; will resume Aug 24; members should prepare for action

The Federation-led coalition of all state employee unions began bargaining on the health care benefits funding article of all contracts today.

The union presented what the state’s team conceded was a “thoughtful” proposal that centers on the unions’ interest of keeping health costs low in the face of recent and huge increases in out-of-pocket costs and premiums.

Management did not offer a counterproposal.

But in a series of questions, the management side made it clear their interest is raising your share of premium costs from the current 12 percent and likely decreasing your level of benefits.

Both sides agreed to meet again Aug. 24.

We could be surprised. But based on what the state said during this year’s legislative session, we believe we’ll have a fight on our hands.

The several unions are working on a more comprehensive joint communication to all 60,000 state employees covered by the Health Care Coalition.

We continue to build our capacity to respond whenever and wherever we need to with necessary supplies for all of our field offices.

Just today, Labor and Industries members of Local 976 picketed the governor as she held a press conference at their office at Fifth and Jackson in downtown Seattle.

So in summary we wish we had better news, but we didn’t really expect any on health care bargaining. We can’t predict what will happen Aug. 24 or in any following negotiation sessions, but we can’t wait to gear up for the kind of actions we are so good at when the chips are down.

So stay tuned, stay informed and stand strong.

The Federation representatives on hand today were: Chief Negotiator Steve Kreisberg, AFSCME; Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux; Federation President Carol Dotlich; Vice President Sue Henricksen; Treasurer Rosemary Sterling; Federation Director of Negotiations Cecil Tibbetts; Rodolfo Franco, Community College Coalition; Cathy Green, Eastern Washington University; Kirk Talmadge, The Evergreen State College; Nicole Kennedy, University of Washington/Harborview Medical Center; Brett Clubbe, Washington State University; and, from General Government, Craig Gibelyou, Don Hall and Gabe Hall.

No comments: