Urgent Action Needed on Health Insurance!
MTA members are urged to contact their Senators immediately to urge them to talk to Senate President Therese Murray and Senate Ways and Means Chair Steven Panagiotakos to modify language in the municipal health insurance sections of the Senate budget. Tell them these changes are needed to protect the legitimate, time-honored rights of employees to have a voice in decisions about their health insurance plans.
At 2:15 am on Friday morning, the Senate approved state budget amendment, proposed by Sen. Panagiotakos (D-Lowell), changing the municipal health insurance system in a way that jeopardizes your participation in the process. Unless this provision is amended, you will lose critical rights in health insurance bargaining.
Many senators voted for the proposal as an alternative to an amendment offered by Sen. Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield). Senator Tisei’s amendment mirrored the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s plan to give cities and towns unilateral control over plan design in order to shift costs to the employees.
However, some provisions of the Panagiotakos proposal will take away our ability to collectively bargain over health insurance. We believe that some senators voted for this amendment based on a verbal description that did not make clear what was in the amendment and, as a result, they may be willing to advocate for changes if you ask them to do so. There is no doubt that many important employee protections are lacking in the amendment and must be changed. The most egregious of these is a provision that allows municipalities to unilaterally enter the GIC – with no bargaining required.
This amendment is not yet law and we can still advocate for changes before it is sent to the House and governor – but time is short! We urgently need you to make contact with your Senator immediately.
We know this is a very busy time of the year. Please take a minute today to call or e-mail your state senator and urge him or her to talk with Senate President Murray and Sen. Panagiotakos and ask that they work with MTA to make changes in the amendment, including the following:
- Do not allow municipalities the unilateral power to put all employees into the GIC without bargaining it through Section 19 (coalition bargaining).
- Require all decisions on health insurance, including plan design, premium splits, and cost savings, to be negotiated through Section 19.
- Increase savings for municipalities by requiring all eligible retirees to receive their health insurance through Medicare, while, at the same time, protecting retirees through Section 19.