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Union, FD start talks

Proposals differ on raises, health insurance

November 22, 2012
By JOE SUTTER ( , Messenger News

Fort Dodge city administrators presented their proposal for a new labor contract to representatives of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Iowa Council 61 Wednesday afternoon.

The city, represented primarily by Jim Vollmer, the human resources director, proposed a one year contract from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, and featuring a 1 percent raise effective Jan. 1, 2014. The city also proposed changes in health insurance coverage.

The union includes public works employees, clerks in the utility billing office, police department clerks, parks maintenance workers and plant operators at the John W. Pray Water Facility. The 54 employees were previously covered under a United Steel Workers contract, but left the USW in August. Currently, the workers are not covered by any union contract.

AFSCME previously made its proposal for a three-year contract with 4 percent raises every year. The proposal calls for a reinstatement of language from the USW contract which formerly covered the workers, and for the city to pay all wages and benefits lost because of the nullification of that contract. It also keeps the current insurance plan, changes the amount of life insurance to $50,000, and adds that the city will pay the premium cost of single and dependent eye care to include prescription eyeglasses and safety glasses at no cost to the employee.

The city's insurance proposals come with two options. One option is a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account, with a individual deductible of $2,500 and family deductible of $5,000. The city would contribute $1,250 for an individual or $2,500 for a family into the savings account each year. The employee could then contribute as much tax-free dollars as they chose to the account.

The other plan would require employees to contribute 10 percent of their premium cost, and have a deductible of $500 individual, $1,000 family. The maximum out-of-pocket and specialty drug prescription benefits would not change.

Currently, the employees do not contribute to their premium, and the deductible is $100 individual, $200 family.

"The council has given us direction that we need to do something different," said Jamie Anderson, human resource/Equal Employment Opportunity specialist for the city.

Vollmer said that though no decisions have been made yet, the city is considering moving from a self-insured model to a fully insured health plan model.

"We're looking at potentially moving to a fully insured plan with changes that are coming up here with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act going into effect on Jan. 1," he said.

Vollmer and Rick Eilander, with the AFSCME council, agreed they would set two or three dates after the holiday for further negotiations. The negotiations will conducted in private sessions.



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