In an historic statement of unity, bargaining teams from SEIU Local 1991 and AFSCME Local 1363 came to the bargaining table together on July 5 to begin negotiations over a COLA and the insurance plan for 2017 (the third year of the 2014-2017 contract).
As might be expected at a first session, the proposal from management was disappointing.
Chief Financial Officer Mark Knight stated that due to decreased LIP (Low Income Pool) dollars, reduced Medicaid reimbursements and increased pension costs, Jackson could not afford a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). In other words, the offer from management was a ZERO percent COLA for 2017.
SEIU Local 1991 President Martha Baker, RN, explained that since eight of the 10 county unions have settled their contracts and will be getting a 4 percent COLA, we are expecting the same. “We have always gotten the same COLA as the other county unions…and even gave the same 5% salary concession during the recession,” she said. “There is no reason for this year to be any different. We were there when you needed us to help save Jackson…now is the time we need you to return to COLAs.”
Baker went on to point out that SEIU Local 1991 has saved Jackson over $30 million in efficiency programs (much of it recurring) over the last few years. The Safe Patient Handling program alone is expected to save Jackson $10-$14 million in the coming year.
On the insurance front, Management presented a proposal that included increasing the ER co-pay to $100, increasing specialty drug co-pay to $100 , increasing HMO and POS premium rate by 10%, and increasing brand Pharmacy co-pay to $40.
Under the terms of the contract, only insurance and COLA can be re-opened in the third year of the contract. The unions requested to negotiate the COLA, and management requested to negotiate changes to the insurance plan.
Chief negotiators Martha Baker, RN, president of SEIU Local 1991 and Vivienne Dixon-Shim, president of AFSCME Local 1363, were joined by attorney Mark Richard and several bargaining team members at the bargaining table.
The unity and strength of our membership is never more important than during bargaining. If you know of any non-members in your unit, sign them up! We must show management that we stand in solidarity behind our bargaining team and our fight for a four percent COLA.
The next bargaining session is set for July 25 at 1pm in DTC 259. Members are encouraged to attend.