Brothers and Sisters,
It has come to my attention that there is some confusion about the pay deferral and the changes to the health insurance plan. There have been questions about a 90 day period for the deferral as well as an April 1st effective date. The membership voted to delay the three percent across the board pay raise from the first pay period in January of this year to the first pay period in April which fell on the 11th. During the educational sessions at the stations, a draft of the proposal was presented to the membership for review and referenced the effective date of the pay raise as April 11, 2010. In hindsight, the effective dates should have been communicated better to the membership.
The changes to the health insurance plan included a premium increase of $4.00 monthly for single coverage, $8.50 monthly for employee plus 1 dependent, and $10.50 monthly for employee plus 2 or more dependents. The plan changes included an increase of $50.00 for individual deductable, and a $500 increase for maximum individual out of pocket. After these deductibles and out of pocket expenses are met the plan will cover at 100%. There was also a change to the prescription plan of $5.00, and a $10.00 increase for a 90 day supply. The accidental death and dismemberment coverage provided at no cost from the City increased from $15,000 to $50,000 for employees.
There was discussion with the City Attorney’s office late last year concerning the premium increase and the changes to the health insurance plan. The City Attorney’s office argued that the agreement only covered the premium increase and did not make mention of the hold on changes to the deductibles and co-pays. After much discussion, a compromise was made. The premium increase would take effect April 1, 2010 with changes to the plan to take effect May 1, 2010.
The economic crisis is the reason why we asked you to hold off on your pay raise. I am proud of the membership’s decision to step up and help out the citizens we serve. It has bought a tremendous amount of goodwill among the community. We are extremely fortunate that we have been able to avoid lay-offs, station closures, brownouts, and furloughs. Other unions have not been as fortunate.
Since December of 2002, we have been able to negotiate across the board pay increases totaling 29% as well as a step increase (Step 11). We have enjoyed an increase of vacation accrual from 65 to 75 days, as well as increases to our longevity pay, educational incentives, paramedic certification and assignment pay. These are good indicators of a union that is committed to the welfare of its membership. The current contract will expire August 31, 2010 and we have already informed the City of our intent to negotiate. We will be sending out questionnaires asking the membership for input on our priorities in the negotiation process.
It is extremely important that we remain united as we head into contract negotiations. In light of these tough economic times, these negotiations will have to address some of the soft money we have been asking for in previous years. Nonetheless, the bargaining team will work hard to negotiate a contract that is fair and equitable.
If you are interested in helping out with the negotiations, please contact an Executive Board member or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Tellez, President
IAFF Local 51