According to The Chief, the city has proposed massive healthcare cuts in the next round of budget negotiations for uniformed city employees.
The [Local 831] union’s release stated that the city was seeking new medical deductibles from its members and trying to force them to use municipal hospitals and their affiliated doctors rather than private ones and the physicians who were connected to those facilities by raising non-municipal-hospital in-patient co-payments from $300 to $3,000 and outside primary-care doctor and specialist co-payments from $15 to $40.
In addition, the PBA said, the city had demanded that its contributions to the union’s health and welfare funds be reduced by 57 percent, and that the union’s annuity fund be eliminated.
In other words, the city wants to pay less -far less- and offer less to city employees for healthcare. And they want to push it through this round of contract negotiations. This includes:
- A 10 times increase in copayments for hospitalized people who keep their own hospital and doctor
- The introduction of deductibles for all city uniformed employees
- An almost 300% increase in copays to visit a doctor
- A precedent where the city commits itself less to PBA health and welfare fund by 57%
Oh ands all this with a less than 1% increase in pay for uniformed unions, another pattern which will surely repeat itself with non uniformed unions like the concession-prone UFT.
To give you a sense of how much that would hurt city employees, you would need to understand how much money that means to an average city employee who has a family. By in large, the city pays $20,000 in healthcare for that employee and his/her family. That 20k, is deferred, tax free compensation. You should add that amount to whatever you're paid each year because that's part of how you are compensated.
That money has been paying for less and less in recent years and there is no end of that pattern anywhere in sight. The next logical step is for the city to defer at least some of that cost onto the employee. Increased copays are one example of how this is done. But another example comes by way of deductibles: Make that city employee pay for the $500 or $1000 worth of medical bills and the city will have to spend less.
So let's deductibles are introduced and the amount set is $1000. Well that's $1,000 less than in compensation that the city employee will be making each year.
Let's say a city hospital or clinic is too far for an employee who lives in the suburbs and that employee's child has his or her tonsils taken out. Well that's $3,000 less in compensation that the city employee will be making that year because of the massive increase in hospital copays.
You see? A healthcare agreement like this takes as much as four, seven or even ten thousand dollars from city employee each year. And it is being proposed in exchange for a small 1% increase in cash.
These negotiations will put a dollar in our left pocket, and take $10 from our right. It is beyond insulting. It will cause real financial hardship for city employees.
And, like all healthcare savings, it will hurt employees with families, many of which are over forty, more than anyone.
I recently saw several teachers from West Virginia visit New York for a conference on why their strike was so successful. When asked How were all of these teacher unions able to organize, one teacher responded by saying "What really did it for me was healthcare. I found myself making less -far less- than I was because of these increasing healthcare costs I had to deal with". He went on to describe how he ultimately decided he had no other choice but to go out on strike.
These givebacks asks the city is asking are absolutely insane.