One of our greatest frustrations in bargaining so far has been part-time health care. This is one issue the Guild and the company have worked very hard on. We very much want our part-timers to have quality, affordable health care coverage so they can be worry-free at work, not fretting that a freak illness or accident could devastate them or their families. But both sides recognize the high cost of health care is a huge challenge.
Well, last weekend at the International Newspaper Guild’s multi-council meeting in Chicago we saw a glimmer of hope on part-time health care.
We got a lead on an IUE-administered insurance program that other CWA unions are using to provide options to their members. As you know, both IUE and the Newspaper Guild are part of CWA, so we could be eligible. Apparently, the program offers cheaper insurance, since, unlike most HMOs, it is not trying to make a large profit. Some locals are reporting that the savings are so great that during negotiations, companies are not only willing to move their employees to this program, they are asking to insure their managers as well.
We’re in the process of evaluating whether the IUE plan could be an option for our part-timers. This is the sort of creative new idea we’ve been hoping to find, since the company so far has been unwilling to either allow part-timers into its affordable Aetna plan or to make its expensive HMO affordable, effectively leaving nearly all our part-timers without health insurance. In fact, the HMO gets more expensive every year, moving out of reach for more and more part-timers.
Stay tuned while we evaluate the IUE plan to see if it is a viable option for our members.
Some other notes from Chicago:
–On a sad note, the leaders from the Cincinnati Guild gave their final report. The end of the Cincinnati Post also marks the end of the union, and many people teared up during an emotional presentation by its officers. We have offered to help those displaced workers any way we can.
–Aside from the local reports, much of the time was spent on politics.
As some of you may know, the International’s Secretary-Treasurer Bernie Lunzer is challenging incumbent President Linda Foley. Both have two running mates: Lunzer is running with Secretary-Treasurer candidate Carol Rothman, who is from the Philadelphia local, and International Chair candidate Connie Knox, who is from Washington-Baltimore. Foley is running with Scott Stephens, from Cleveland, and Lois Kirkup, from Ottawa.
Dayton Newspaper Guild Vice President Amelia Robinson and President Lou Grieco spent time with all six candidates. Bernie and Linda are already familiar with our struggle. Both came to the GLDC meeting we hosted last year, and both said they are getting regular reports from International Rep Jay Schmitz, who is on our bargaining team.
Amelia and Lou also had dinner with some members of the Toledo Newspaper Guild, including President Lillian Covarrubias, who is a candidate for Region 3 Vice President.
This kind of face time is important. Guild officers learn from each other’s tactics and compare notes about companies’ proposals and policies. Plus, locals can start to work together. DNG is already planning events with officers from Toledo and Akron, who want to help us obtain a fair contract.
Keeping plugged in with the international is critical for our success. We have a mighty giant in our corner, offering us the chance to apply for more money for mobilization and legal services. You can see why the company prefers independent unions, and why company officials were so angry when we joined up with the Guild 21 years ago.