After finishing our bargaining session Aug 6th, management informed us they would provide their financial proposal prior to the Aug 20 session so that we’d have time to prepare a counter-proposal. We received their proposal Aug 12 and the team met on Aug 13 to discuss it.
The management proposal is as follows:
COLA – the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of 2.7% for the first year, retroactive to July 1, 2014. The following 2 years the COLA would be equal to the CPI for each of those years, with a minimum of 1% and a maximum of 4%. As you may recall, the union’s proposal calls for a COLA of the CPI plus 1% each year of the contract, with a minimum of 2% and a maximum of 5%, plus the extra 1%.
Health Care – Things would basically stay the same for the time being, but if in the future the county believes it is advantageous to move into one the state insurance pools (PEBB or OEBB) they could make that decision without bargaining with the union. They would have to bargain the impact on our members, but they would not have to bargain whether to join one of those pools. Basically the decision would be entirely up to them, and we are not interested in giving them that kind of discretion around such a major subject.
Also in the management proposal; during the life of the contract either party could require the other to re-open bargaining on health care. (Typically, you can only have mid-term bargaining if both sides agree to engage.) It is much more likely that management would utilize this language rather than the union.
The county’s offer did show some movement on their part. Their previous offer on COLA did not offer retro pay back to July 1. They also removed a piece that offered a major medical coverage plan for full-time employees that we predict results in a bad deal for our members.
A number of the union’s proposals were not included in management’s offer, meaning they are proposing that those items would not be part of a new contract. Among the subjects they did not include: employee option to cash out 40 hours of vacation time once per year, employee choice to take accrue comp time rather than get overtime pay, expanded bereavement leave coverage, additional days of bereavement leave for the death of a child or spouse and premium pay for essential employees.
During the August 13 evening meeting, the bargaining team talked about how to respond to management’s proposal. Each team member spoke to the proposal and what each was hearing from the members about priorities. It took a full 2 and a half hours of debate and evaluation of different counter-proposal scenarios to reach agreement for a Aug 20 counter-proposal that represents the priorities our members expressed in the bargaining survey and brown bag meetings and shows management we are serious about what we are asking for.
Stay tuned and watch for Member Action Team (MAT) Updates and information sharing.