I was very happy to report a health care deal yesterday with Methuen’s Section 19 Coalition, which includes representatives of all city unions. It is a one year contract (FY12) which continues the substantial changes we enacted in Methuen in FY11. The contract continues our plan as local, and includes a premium increase of 4.6% for our employees. Retirees will see a decrease of 18% in their premiums. Additionally the City, through the strength of our program enacted last year, has offered on a one year basis a HRA that provides a 35% front end benefit for employees that will assist them in dealing with the much larger deductibles that this plan features. Methuen’s City Council ratified the plan last night. My thanks to Donna Gogas of the Methuen Teachers, Tim Sheehy from Methuen’s Firefighters, and all the other unions that participated in the negotiations. It is a good contract for both employee and taxpayer.
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Congratulations, I think. I am trying to work my way through the legal and political morass that I do not understand. Section 19 Coalition. What’s that? Are there non union people affected by this contract?
So let’s keep it simple; is there anything about this contract that I would like? What is there about it that keeps it from reverting to a fiscal and administrative nightmare in the future? If so what is it?
Methuen is a “Section 19” community, which means I negotiate with a committee that represents all Methuen employees, including teachers and school side employees. The contract is binding on them. The advantage to Section 19 is that you must only do it (negotiate) once. Non union management folks are covered by the agreement. It is a one year agreement that hopefully will serve as a placeholder while the Legislature deals with municipal health care reform.
You would like the fact that I have negotiated substantially higher co-pays and deductibles, including a plan deductible of $1000 per individual, $2000 per family. Our prescription drug program now features a tiered approach, with higher cost prescriptions falling into a tier that requires a higher co-pay for the individual. Our plan changes, begun last year, have turned a large one year deficit into a large one year surplus. That surplus will be large enough to offset the prior year’s debt. A lot to like here, but we still need to look at the changes that are hopefully coming next year and be ready to implement more plan changes next year.
A question: If Non-union employees are covered by the “agreement” then who represents the non-union employees at the negotiating table?
So if another, more corruptible, Mayor takes over, as will happen soon, what prevents a slide back into the “old ways” with cash and votes promised?