Labor coalition to seek changes in municipal health proposal

Members of a labor coalition said today that they are disappointed with the municipal health insurance plan crafted by the budget conference committee and will be seeking changes to protect retirees and people who are very sick while preserving a meaningful voice for employees in the negotiating process.

The Public Employees’ Coalition on Municipal Health Insurance – which includes unions representing teachers, firefighters and other municipal workers, along with organizations representing retirees – had previously agreed that changes in municipal health insurance were needed in order to save cash-strapped municipalities an estimated $100 million a year.

Earlier this year, the coalition put forward a plan to offer those savings rapidly, protect working families and preserve employees’ access to quality medical care while addressing the following crucial principles:

  • Employees and retirees with high medical costs should be protected from exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Retirees should be protected from facing a double hit in the form of both higher co-pays and deductibles and changes to insurance premium splits.
  • Unions and retirees should have a meaningful voice at the table in making significant decisions over achieving savings through health insurance changes.

The conference committee plan that was approved by the House and Senate today does not include enough of these protections. The coalition plans to work through the remaining stages of the process to make sure the final bill provides substantial savings to municipalities while still being fair to public employees and retirees.

Members of the Public Employees’ Coalition on Municipal Health Insurance include:

AFSCME – Council 93
AFT Massachusetts
Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association
International Union of Painters & Allied Trades District Council 35
Massachusetts AFL-CIO
Massachusetts Coalition of Police
Massachusetts and Northern New England Laborers Council
Massachusetts Municipal Police Coalition
Massachusetts Police Association
Massachusetts Teachers Association
Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts
Retired State, County and Municipal Employees Association
SEIU – Local 888
United Steel Workers, AFL-CIO/CLC