Oakland Bargaining Bulletin #9

 

Your Paid Family Leave Questions Answered!

As discussed at membership meetings, our Bargaining Teams in the past have always voted to maintain short and long term disability benefits through a private insurer (The Hartford, currently) because there is a seamless transition between short and long term disability, if needed by our members. Our insurance provides income replacement up to the age of 70.

            Under SDI, a worker with a long term disability is kicked out of the state system after one year and is transferred to Social Security Insurance (SSI). If you are a career employee with the City of Oakland, you have not paid into SSI and therefore, have NO long term disability options.

           Our Union proposal is for a two year pilot program where the City will self fund a paid family leave for Local 21 members so they will get the benefit of PFL while maintaining the superior benefits offered under The Hartford’s coverage.

 

            Q: I paid into Social Security in the past, so I would like to switch to SDI. Can I use that coverage to get Paid Family Leave?

            A: No. The City will not allow individuals to choose individual coverage under SDI or the Hartford.

 

            Q: We get to pick from a lot of different options for our health insurance, why can’t we chose for ourselves if we want SDI or coverage under The Hartford. 

            A: The health insurance plans are all offered under CalPERS. Because CalPERS covers almost 1.4 million workers and their families, they are able to leverage those large numbers to get the best prices on a dozen different health plans and offer them to Oakland employees. The difference here is that they are all plans offered through the same system… CalPERS. Comparing Local 21 bargaining units in Oakland to the CalPERS system doesn’t work. They are not analogous. When the City puts our insurance needs out to bid, insurers bid on the entire bargaining unit and write benefit plans for the whole unit; insurers won’t underwrite a plan for select members… it is all or nothing.

 

            Q: Couldn’t we get an insurance company to provide a paid family leave benefit like the SDI program?

            A: Unfortunately not. Each year, the City consults with an insurance broker, a firm that specializes in matching insurance companies with employers like the City of Oakland. Even with the advantage of the broker, who has access to all insurers, the City has not been able to get a single insurance company to bid on an SDI policy for the City of Oakland. No insurer wants to be in competition with the state of California. So even though we would like to have a private insurance policy for paid family leave, that is not a workable solution.

The bottom line for members to understand is that the paid family leave benefit is a challenge for us to solve. While our bargaining team is committed to winning the benefits, we cannot do it without the support of the membership backing our team.

 

            Q: What can I do to support our bargaining team and ensure we win paid family leave?

            A: In the immediate future, the two actions we need members to participate in are: the pink slip campaign (you can sign and you can have community members sign these pink slips to send a strong message to the mayor that she is failing the City and workers), and we must have members show up at the September 19 City Council Meeting to demonstrate without a doubt that Local 21 members deserve better and are demanding more.

 

Check out this benefits comparision chart for more information!