For Immediate Release
November 19, 2018
Health Insurance a Sticking Point in West Hartford Teacher Contract Negotiations
Board of Education says no to moving to the state plan, which would save local taxpayers millions.
Teacher contract negotiations in West Hartford are at a standstill over the issue of health insurance. The West Hartford Education Association, representing more than 900 teachers, has asked the town to move teachers to the State Partnership Health Insurance plan. The move would save the town nearly a million dollars a year, but the Board of Education is refusing the proposal, opting for a plan that would be more costly to teachers.
“Moving to the state healthcare plan is a win-win for teachers and West Hartford taxpayers, providing a means to combat increasing health insurance costs,” said West Hartford Education Association President Theresa McKeown. “The plan would save the district over $800,000 in the current year, and over a million dollars a year for the life of the contract.”
At least 33 districts have moved teachers to the State Partnership Health Insurance plan since May 2015, when the State Legislature passed the bill allowing local associations the choice to join the state employee healthcare plan. The state plan shares the risk with a much larger pool of state and municipal employees, which helps hold down premium costs, saving cities and towns millions of dollars annually.
Instead of implementing the state healthcare plan for teachers, West Hartford wants a plan that would significantly increase premium share costs to teachers as well as shift the plan design, increasing prescription costs and out-of-pocket maximum expenses.
“Teachers have taken on a higher share of their healthcare premiums, and out of pocket costs. In other words, healthcare and inflations have outpaced teacher’s salary increases,’’ said West Hartford Education Association Negotiations Chair David Simon. “Under the proposed Board of Education health plan, our teachers would be paying more for less coverage, and the increase costs would negate any salary increases for half of our teachers. For many teachers, the increase in premium costs would result in a pay cut, with teachers taking home less pay this year than they did last year.”
“Our teachers are some of the best in the state. They are passionate about their students, dedicated to their profession, and, on average, spend $500 a year of their own money on students. Despite everything they do, year after year, they are asked to give more, but they too need to earn a living to support their families,” said McKeown.
She added, “We look forward to working together with town leaders to reach an agreement that benefits both teachers and taxpayers.”
Teachers Rally for Affordable Health Insurance
West Hartford teachers will attend Tuesday´s West Hartford Board of Education meeting at 7p.m. to call on the board to negotiate a new contract that allows teachers to participate in the State Partnership Health Insurance Plan.
For more information, contact West Hartford Education Association President Theresa McKeown or WHEA Negotiations Chair David Simon at the West Hartford Education Association (860) 236-5350.