We are at a major crossroads in bargaining and each side is getting down to their bottom-line positions on the articles that are still open.
The cost of living increase (COLA) is one of the two main sticking points. Typically the parties agree to tie the COLA to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), but this time the union is asking for a three-year contract in which the COLA for each year is 1% higher that the CPI. We are asking for this to reduce the compounding wage loss from our voluntary COLA freezes and step freeze when we helped the county balance the budget in 2009 & 2013.
At this time the county refuses to budge on the COLA, sticking to their proposal of 2.7% for this year and the CPI for the next 2 years.
The other main issue is health care. The county wants to have the ability, if they choose, to change your coverage from the current Kaiser or self-insured system to one of the two state-wide insurance pools known as PEBB and OEBB. We strongly disagree with this because we would be giving up the control we currently have over the coverage. In the current system, if the insurance providers make changes to the plans, we work directly with the county to figure out how to manage those changes so we get the most bang for our buck. If we went into PEBB or OEBB then Local 88 will have no say in what happens, we would just be one of many groups in the pool.
The County has not given much-if any- on a number of the other economic and language proposals the Union has put forward on your behalf. In order to focus on the best contract we can get for the majority of our members we have modified or withdrawn quite a few proposals. We are simply not seeing that type of movement from the County.
We’ve reached the point where our best chance to make progress is through the action of you as union members. That’s why we distributed the green petition cards for our COLA proposal. Based on all the signed cards have been returned, there is strong support for this. If you and your co-workers haven’t received these cards please contact a Local 88 steward or Member Action Team representative ASAP so you can sign and have your voice counted.
Watch the website for upcoming information on our health care proposals.