Pinellas teachers union responds to proposed health care changes
We reported in a brief story today that the Pinellas County School Board is looking at changes to its health insurance plan. A proposal brought forward by district staff would dramatically increase employees' out-of-pocket expenses.
Kim Black, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, sent this letter to employees today:
Many of you have read the article in the Tampa Bay Times today in reference to an insurance plan presented to the School Board during a work
session yesterday, May 31st. At the School Board meeting, it was obvious that board members were seeing this plan for the first time and many
questions were raised by Board members. That same plan was presented to the Health Insurance Advisory Council (HIAC) several weeks ago. The four
unions representing school district employees, including PCTA and PESPA, have rejected this specific plan. All four unions, represented on the HIAC
have taken a solidified position.
In a PCTA bargaining session following the insurance meeting, Kim Black and Marshall Ogletree made clear to the district negotiations team that
the change was too draconian and in effect was asking employees to fund their own raise.
While PCTA and PESPA were hopeful for a contract settlement by the end of this school year, the insurance issue established a significant hurdle
impeding that goal. That means, bargaining will continue during the summer.
The unions do realize there must be insurance plan changes but not the specific plan presented to the School Board. All four unions are committed
to a measured approach while providing offsets for deductible charges and really educating our employees. One example of a significant problem with
the current plan is that there is no incentive to have some procedures at a free standing facility rather than at a hospital. While the employee
having the procedure pays the same at either location, the plan and all other employees absorb thousands of dollars in added cost for the
procedure being done at a hospital. This is clearly an example where knowledge of your insurance benefits is critical.
Another important goal of the HIAC is the establishment of district wellness centers over the course of the next few years. These centers will
provide basic medical services at a fraction of the cost of other health care providers and will offer greater convenience with flexible hours convenient for your work schedules.
Stay tuned throughout the summer for bargaining information. Also, encourage other union members to provide PCTA-PESPA with their home email addresses.