10/4/18 - Healthcare Bargaining Update #2

Healthcare Coalition Bargaining Update #2

We Won’t Stop
Until We Get a Fair Deal

Negotiations continued this week between the 9 union Healthcare Coalition and the County over a fix for the healthcare crisis.
The union Coalition’s position all along has been that we need a band aid for the 2019 premium increases, and then we need a commitment to continue negotiations until we can work out a real system fix that will pull Contra Costa out of last place among Bay Area public employers when it comes to healthcare premium costs for employees.
The County continues to insist on a three-year contract extension deal that will give the County some assurances for the next few years. Our side has been clear that the only way an extension will work is for the County to make lasting and significant changes to the healthcare system as part of that deal. We won’t take a band aid deal, or one that only partially fixes the problem but fails to control employee healthcare costs in the second and third year of the deal or beyond. Under the County’s latest offer, we would come out of a three-year extension deal and employees’ share of premiums would be higher than they are now for the majority of workers in the Coalition, and that’s just not worth trading for a 2019 band-aid. We need a fair deal, or we are taking this important fight to the bargaining table next year when our contracts are open and we have more options.
The strength of the Union Coalition has led to some real movement from the County. There is no doubt that member action is having an effect. In addition to agreeing to bargain healthcare with the Coalition even before our contracts are open, the County has now indicated a willingness to move to a set percentage-based cost model, which would mean that the County would always pay a certain share of premium costs rather than a set dollar amount. However, the County is saying that it will base that percentage model on a Kaiser plan that most Coalition members have opted not to participate in because it transfers more risk onto employees than they can tolerate. Under this County proposal, members in most plans would still be paying a lot more in 2020 and 2021 than we are today. The County’s goal would be to force a migration of members to the higher risk Kaiser plan, which would be a major problem for workers and our families who don’t have the means to plan for high unanticipated medical expenses. It would also likely create a Kaiser monopoly in the County, and that would undermine our call for morecompetition so that our premium rates are actually lower. What we need is more low risk plans, with a higher employer-contribution that is equal across all unions to fix the problem. In addition to healthcare justice for workers, this would level the playing field for the carriers and help the County gain more leverage as they negotiate over future premium increases.
Negotiations will continue next week. This week’s session ended when the County Administrator, David Twa, insisted that he did not have authorization to move further and would need to consult the Board of Supervisors.
It’s important to keep up the pressure! Join in on Black Tuesdays and look out for upcoming actions. We must be clear- we will not settle for less than a fair deal.

Coalition members are showing their support every Tuesday. Let's show them how many of us want affordable healthcare in Contra Costa County!

Need a sticker or other swag? Chapter leaders will be getting some soon. Find your chapter leader here.

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