The MOA/TA vote failed by a narrow margin (56% over 44%). Our group has very divergent needs and opinions in our unit. We understand why some voted no and others voted yes, as many of you have shared your thoughts with us. For us to best serve the majority at the bargaining table, we must have facts. With that in mind, we are creating a survey for our voting members. It is not that we don’t care about the opinion of non-voting members, but it is a simple fact that it is the voting members who will decide the results of the contract ratification just as they did with this recent MOA/TA. The results will help guide our negotiations. We cannot work for you if we do not know your mind.
Next, we want to commend everyone who voted, regardless of the way you voted! We know this was a tough decision for everyone.
What to expect next:
- The bargaining team will continue to work toward a complete package Tentative Agreement.
- Because of our experience rating, we only have two insurance choices: PacificSource or OEBB.
- If at the next TA the vote is for PacificSource, employees can expect increases to take effect in September.
- If at the next TA the vote is for OEBB, we must ask for a 30-day extension from PacificSource to extend to Nov 1. It is likely the premiums with PacificSource will go up for that 30 days but we will work to get the college to pick that up. The 30-day extension will be necessary because OEBB demands a 90-day notice for any new group joining OEBB.
- There are no guarantees the college will pick up any increase. Their stance has been they will not. This is a new Administration and we cannot predict what they will do.
- If we do ask for an extension there will be an enrollment period before Oct. 1 for that 30-day extension and employees will be able to make some decisions at that time about coverage that might mitigate some of the cost of the premium increase, such as changing plans, and/or dependent coverage.
- If after the 30-day extension with PacificSource we do vote to go with OEBB there will be another enrollment period to make whatever changes you need.
We commiserate with those who voted yes due to concern over the rising cost of PacificSource employee premium cost. For those who voted no because you wanted to see the whole package before making a decision, we know that was likely a difficult choice for you as well. It had to be a tough choice to make, because it is taking a chance that we will pay the full insurance premiums increase come September. But we know many of you made that choice for philosophical reasons. We commend you for your bravery and willingness to take a chance.
For those who voted no because you want to keep PacificSource no matter the cost, we understand that too. Medical insurance is a very personal decision and that is why we worked hard to educate everyone on all the options. So each of you could make a very informed decision.
For those of you who voted no because of the reduction to FSA employer contribution in 2021 without adding anything to the pay scale, we understand and have full intentions of pushing back on that issue.
Whichever way you voted and whatever your reasons, let’s all be good to each other and remember we are in this together. Bargaining is always stressful for everyone. Please treat each other with extra kindness. We are very proud of our bargaining unit for being empowered and taking action. We are aware some of you wanted us to just tell you which way to vote and we heard some complain that we were ambiguous.
We understand that our leadership approach is quite different from what you’ve experienced in the past. The truth is we have been ambiguous for a reason. We have faith in your ability to make the best decision for yourself. We see our role as making sure you have access to all the information you need to make an informed and educated decision for yourself. We feel members need to make decisions for themselves on actions that could financially impact them.
If you haven’t done so already, please avail yourselves of that information on our website. If you are struggling to understand the information please reach out to us.
The facts are, for some, maybe even many of you, OEBB will save you thousands of dollars a year especially over the new PacificSource rates, but there will likely be some inconveniences. You may have to change Doctors, you will have to pay full cost for massage instead of a $30 co-pay, some specialty prescriptions may cost you more, special services and surgeries will cost more. For a few of you, even with a zero premium cost and 1.75% increase on the salary scale you will still not break even. These are all reasons we could not tell you what is the best decision for you with our last MOA/TA.
Another fact we must all face is our experience rating is very high, and insurance and medical costs are out of control across the country. We will continue to see our premiums rise year after year, and our benefits slashed year after year, just as we have for many years to date. We are actually fortunate that we have an alternative option like OEBB. It is such a large pool of people that our very poor insurance rating can be absorbed without making much of a ripple.
Yes, the premium cost under OEBB can go up too but with the contribution levels from the college set and the stop loss language it will be several years, perhaps many years, before we pay more than zero for our portion and employee only will never pay for the cost of insurance. Yes, it is true that OEBB has the authority to change plans every year because they are mandated to keep the rise of premium under 3.5% each year, but they appear to have done a good job of that over the last 10 years while still offering insurance that in some ways is better than what we currently have on PacificSource (EX: lower deductible, co-pays and on some plans Out of Pocket maximum).
These are some facts we must all accept but you still need to research how it will impact you personally. We will try to get more information sessions scheduled to help you with this research.
Now we need to try and settle this contract quickly because every day past June 30, 2019, will potentially cost each and every one of us in the form of higher premium costs starting in September.
In closing; help us help you.
- Fill out the survey
- Attend the next General Membership Meeting on July 8th and/or July 9th
- Send us pictures of yourself with a Fair Contract sign
- Wear red on Bargaining days and especially July 11, Board of Education Meeting day
- Attend bargaining sessions (more to be announced once they are scheduled)
- Very, very, important attend the Board of Ed meeting on July 11 at 6:30pm!!
- Speak during public comment at the Board of Ed meeting