Health Care Crisis - 2007 (and continuing into 2008)!
Current 2009: The PacifiCare rates will remain as they are. There is the possibility of another increase next school year (2009). In 2010 the contract will be renegotiated.
2nd Grievance (and final arbitration outcome): The union submitted a 2nd grievance since the company continued to pass through the PacifiCare increases (into the 2007-2008 school year). The union did not believe the company could do this under the contract either. The matter was arbitrated during September 2008 and a decision denying the grievance was received in December 2008. The arbitrator stated that the company could contractually pass though the increase they received in January 2007 at the beginning of the 2008 school year. This means that the PacifiCare rates in effect presently will remain, unless there is another increase for the 2009 school year.
1st Arbitration Outcome: The union has won the arbitration. The arbitrator allowed some time for the union and the company to agree upon an appropriate remedy. The union and the company had not been able to agree on this and the matter was determined by a final award of the arbitrator. The award was compensation for all the monies (interest was not awarded unfortunately) our members paid when the company passed through the January 2007 increase in violation of our contractual agreement. The arbitrator also ruled that the company was responsible to pay all costs of the arbitration - not including the union's legal costs (this is not always awarded). The arbitrator further concluded that he has no jurisdiction over the union's second grievance and that matter can be resolved independently (see above).
1st Mediation Outcome: The case was mediated on February 14. Mr. Paul Roose (State Mediation and Conciliation Service) served as the mediator. We have received Mr. Roose's recommendation and the union was willing to abide by it (it was highly favorable to the union). In accordance with our contract, the party that does not agree to abide by the recommendation is the party that assumes the costs of arbitration. It was, unfortunately, expected that the company would make us arbitrate the issue and continue to subtract huge deductions from our paychecks. It could be several months (or more) until an arbitration is concluded. In the meantime our members will bare this unjust financial hardship, which many of them will not be able to endure.
Earlier History: The union filed the 1st grievance in December 2006 and tried to get the company to agree to a prompt mediation date. The State Mediation and Conciliation Service had offered dates as soon as January 25. However, the company, via Ms. Perri Newell, had claimed that they were not available and were still gathering dates for February. The company had made us wait until February 14 to mediate the case.
Other Items: The union has been researching the option of entering into a Taft-Hartley health insurance plan and has asked the company (via Ms. Perri Newell) to consider opening up bargaining over this. The estimates the Union has received so far indicate that this plan would offer significant cost savings to both the union and the company. The company has been presented with this information and the union continues to wait (Sept. 2007) for a meaningful response.
Brief Summary of the Issue
In December 2006 the company (Laidlaw Education Services) informed our union that they had received a substantial increase in premiums from PacifiCare and that they would pass along an increase to our members effective on January 1, 2007. The union informed the company that passing along any increase before the regular annual open enrollment period (in August) would be a clear violation of our contract. Disregarding this, the company passed the increase through anyway, which left many of our members with low two digit paychecks when they returned to work in early January 2007. Some drivers had $514 subtracted from their first paychecks for the new year, leaving at least one driver with a negative amount on her pay stub. As you may expect, San Francisco School Bus Drivers are not in the most highly compensated of professions. These severe deductions have had a dramatic effect on our members and their families. Many members are seriously considering applying to MUNI for work so they can make ends meet. This would be a great loss of highly qualified drivers. Replacing these drivers would also require considerable effort as the licensing, certificating, and background clearances required are a daunting and time consuming process. This could have the unfortunate potential of leaving the school district short handed - we hope this does not happen.
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