Along straight party lines (17-10), the 6 month debate over retiree health benefits came to a head Thursday with HB 4701 and 4702 passing out of the House Appropriations Committee. As you may recall, MCO strongly opposed the bills sponsored by Rep. Bill Rogers (R-Brighton) and spent a great deal of the summer lobbying legislators and urging members to contact their representatives directly to vote no.
Under the original version of the plan, those in the DC system would have lost their retirement health care coverage and had it replaced by a lump-sum payment at the end of their careers. Under the version passed Thursday, DC folks would have the option to keep the current Defined Contribution – Retiree Health Care System ( 3 percent a year up to 90 percent) or switch to the new 401k/457 employer 2% match. This key change was no small feat and everyone who took the time to make a phone call, write a letter or attend a meeting was crucial in getting this accomplished.
The bills now travel to the full house, where we expect a vote as early as next week. MCO will continue to fight against the 4% contribution and are working to somehow include overtime in DB- FAC along with other component changes. A full list of details and analysis of the bills is available or contact Jeremy Tripp at 517-485-3310 with specific questions.
Although MCO and OSE had filed for Impasse, talks continued and a two year tentative contract agreement has now been reached. It was a hard fought battle on both sides but in the end, MCO, the State Union Coalition and the Office of the State Employer came to an agreement that recognizes the value of those on the front line and also helps Michigan citizens by facing up to the State’s budget challenges.
In the next few days all MCO members will receive a letter from the union detailing most of the items in the agreement. A detailed summary is being prepared and will be sent to members in the next few weeks along with a voting ballot. All Chapter Presidents will receive a briefing at a meeting this Tuesday, November 1st. Statewide member meetings will occur over the next couple of weeks as well. Below is a review of the big issues dealt with:
The deadline for Impasse was extended several times, but at 5 p.m. today (the final deadline) MCO submitted Impasse Positions. Although the deadline necessitated this filing, MCO is still willing to discuss any portions of the contract to come to a voluntary agreement.
The next phase of the process is that all evidence and briefs are to be submitted to the Impasse Panel on October 24th, and then Hearings will be scheduled in the first part of November.
We have been fielding a lot of calls from concerned members wanting to know why we are not negotiating with the state. Late last week many news media outlets ran stories about the state asking for 4 furlough days, closing Mound, and privatizing WCC among other things because the unions weren’t coming to the table.
It is unfortunate that the state has chosen to convey this message to the public and the media when in fact, we have been in regular negotiations with the state since early August, up to and including today. We have proposed savings measures through the “New Solutions” report that would achieve the necessary savings and we hope that we can work with the state to help turn the tide in Michigan while protecting vital state services.