Last week, Santa Clara County Chapter reached a Tentative Agreement. We know you’ve got questions, and here are some answers– with more information to come.
FAQs on our TENTATIVE AGREEMENT
Q: What are the basic terms of the contract I need to know?
A: Contract is for four (4) years, with the following wage increases for all workers:
Year 1: 4.5%
Year 2: 3%
Year 3: 3%
Year 4: 3%
By the fourth year, our gross income will increase by 14.19% (compounded)
Q: What are the changes to our medical coverage, health plans, and costs?
A: There is no increase in out-of-pocket premium contributions to medical insurance for first two years. At the end of Year 2, we will have a limited medical insurance re-opener. That is when the County and Union will look at all aspects of reducing medical costs so that savings can be passed on to jobs and services.
Q: Why didn’t we negotiate a 2-year contract; this locks us into 4 years with a big uncertainty around medical costs the last two years?
A: At the start of negotiations, the membership had indicated through a bargaining survey that one priority was to secure a long-term contract for stability.
Q: Membership also wants Kaiser, Health Net, and Valley Health Plan to be guaranteed in our contract. If we re-open, what happens?
A: We agreed to a re-opener on the medical portion because in 2018, a provision from the Affordable Care Act takes effect where employers who offer “high-cost” medical plans that exceed a threshold will be charged a 40% tax (on the amount that exceeds the threshold.)
The cost of this “Cadillac” tax – which applies to all employers (public and private) – will inevitably get passed down to workers. So it is best that we can re-negotiate in 2017 and make Kaiser compete with other providers for our business. Right now, Kaiser has a monopoly in Santa Clara County; it can – and does – charge whatever rates it wants. If we are successful in our re-opener, we might be able to drive down what Kaiser and Health Net charge so that our plans don’t exceed the “Cadillac” plan threshold.
Any savings we can help the County with health care costs means more funds for jobs, workforce development, and public programs.
Q: How did other unions address the “Cadillac” tax problem?
A: Other unions agreed to increase employee contributions towards medical plans and coverage.
Q: Any changes to PERS and our retirement contributions?
A: There are no changes to our retirement costs for the duration of our 4-year contract.
Q: What about rumors that the county will increase our PERS contributions in 2018 because of pension reform?
A: PEPRA (the California Public Employees Pension Reform Act of 2013) permits employers to impose “equal sharing of normal costs” of pension plans. However, this would not affect us if we are covered by a contract through 2019.
Q: What happens if this TA is voted down by the membership?
A: Everything would be off the table because this is a package proposal from the county on the condition that we not go on strike. So rejecting this TA means we go on strike and the county wage increase offer of 4.5% – 3% – 3% – 3% would go away. So would the offer of no change to health care costs. So would the offer of no change to pension costs.
We would have to go back to the table for negotiations. The last offer from the county – NOT the package proposal in this TA – would be the basis of bargaining. That proposal included wage increases of 3.25% – 3% – 3% – 3%, with increases in healthcare costs.
For these FAQs in a PDF flier format, click here: Tentative Agreement Q&A
Spread this handy FAQ flier by sharing this link: http://521.seiu.org/sccoQA
Voting sites and times will be announced soon, plan to vote later this week!