Healthcare Negotiations Enter a Critical Phase

With open enrollment around the corner, the Contra Costa Health Care Coalition – representing IFPTE Local 21, AFSCME 2700, AFSCME 512, SEIU 1021, and the Western Council of Engineers – remains committed to negotiating a fair and reasonable agreement with the County over health care.  Negotiations have entered a critical phase. With employees scheduled to select their health plans for next year later this month, and the new plan year (2016) arriving not long after that, it is critical that the County comes to the bargaining table prepared and ready to negotiate through to the end of the year. 

Negotiations are now moving somewhat quickly.  During negotiations on Thursday, August 13, the Coalition Bargaining Team was joined by County Administrator David Twa and Assistant County Administrator Lisa Driscoll. This was their first appearance at the bargaining table since an information sharing session back in March 2015. 

County Administrator Twa introduced the County’s most recent health care proposal.  Rather than respond to the Coalition’s most recent proposal – which calls for a fair 80/20 split of the total health care costs beginning January 1, 2016 – the County’s proposal envisions an entirely different path moving forward. Despite committing to cover all increases in health care costs for the 2016 plan year and remaining open to a third enrollment tier for employees + 1, the County’s proposal does not address the total increase County employees and their families have incurred since the cap was first imposed.  With very few exceptions, it does not reduce the amount the County employees are paying in health care costs currently.  

After next year, the County is calling for a 50/50 split of all health care cost increases beginning January 1, 2017.  

The County’s proposal ignores the fact that employees are still paying far too much for health care, and instead simply “stops the bleeding” for a year before once again passing on an even larger share of health care costs to employees.  This is neither sustainable nor responsible unless the County recognizes that employees and their families have been shouldering far too much of the burden of increased health care costs – 100%, in fact – for far too long.

While the Health Care Coalition remains committed to a comprehensive solution dealing with health care costs and all structural drivers of health care cost increases related to plan design, the County would rather change or eliminate existing health plans and introduce new plans as it sees fit – changes that would normally require negotiation and agreement with County unions. This too is an unacceptable aspect of the County’s proposal.   

Between now and January 1, 2016, negotiations are likely to continue moving quickly.  Updates will be forthcoming. The Coalition Bargaining Team is currently considering next steps in light of the County’s continued refusal to provide information in a timely fashion, as well as its failure to respond to our proposals in a substantive and productive way.  Any questions about the specifics of the Union or County proposals should be directed to a member of your Bargaining Team or Local 21 professional staff.