Friday, June 11, 2010

Strong Statement Against Benefit Cost Shifting

The end of the Delaware legislative session is in sight. The Joint Finance Committee will meet several days next week in the hopes of completing budget mark up. On Thursday, June 17th there will be new economic numbers from the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council to help them in final decisions about restoration of budget cuts.

Meanwhile the threat to health care and pension for state workers and educators continues. The coalition of public employee unions known as State Workers United for a Better Delaware issued a statement to every member of the legislature on Thursday (6/10) opposing the new tiers of benefits. The Delaware State Education Association, American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Delaware State Troopers Association, and the Correction Officers Association of Delaware are the largest member groups of the coalition.

In the interest of transparency we have printed the letter below (the graphics and spacing are different from the actual hard copy document):

June 10, 2010
TO: The Honorable <
>FROM: Lt. Tom Brackin (DSTA, 302-270-1765), chair
Karen Valentine (AFSCME Council 81, 302-354-3500), and Tim Barchak (DSEA 866-734-5834) co-chairs of the Coalition of State Workers United for a Better Delaware

On behalf of the members of our Coalition, we urge you to oppose the Markell plan for tiering of health and pension benefits, and instead, support real dialogue and problem solving. The Administration’s proposed plan does nothing to address health care inflation. The Administration plan is not about health care cost containment, it is about cost shifting to employees. It occurs to us that cost shifting is the place of last resort, not the starting point.

Additionally, we believe that there are three distinct issues that should be considered on their own merits: Rising health care costs, pension (which is both well funded and well managed currently), and OPEB (a liability with which every state in the nation must deal).

This Coalition began the discussion of health care cost containment when we hired Milliman Incorporated as health care and actuarial consultants to examine the State Employee Health Plan and make recommendations. We did this on our own volition without having the health care of our members threatened. We believe this work was incomplete because not all of the data or information our consultants needed was forthcoming.

On June 8th, 2010, in the context of the tiering proposal, we have again worked with our consultants and sent the administration a list of questions, considerations, and data requests. This should not be a burden on the State because we assume the Administration had the information we seek before making their proposal. A proposal of this magnitude should be well thought out with a great deal of research and modeling to support it.

The Coalition continues its willingness to discuss health care cost containment, and work towards solutions, in the Delaware way. Years ago when rising Workers Compensation rates created concerns, all the stakeholders worked together in a thoughtful and deliberate fashion. The result was legislation without opposition that reformed the system. This is the type of undertaking we recommend to deal with health care, pension and OPEB concerns.

The Coalition of State Workers United for a Better Delaware
AFSCME Council #81, AFL-CIO, DSTA, DSEA and DSEA-Retired, Teamsters Local 326, CWOA Local 13101, State Lodge of the FOP, FOP Lodge 3, FOP Lodge 10, FOP Lodge 11, UFCW Local 27, Delaware Attorney General Investigation Assoc., Laborers Local 1029 LiUNA!

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