Affordable Care Act and Open Enrollment
Our annual open enrollment period is here and runs now through October 31, 2013. This is the time when all eligible full time employees can enroll or make changes to their healthcare plan. This year, with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there are understandably a lot more questions and confusion than in previous years. We’d like to help make this process as easy as possible, so here’s some information you need to know.
Remember, due to healthcare reform, all adults are required to have health insurance coverage by 01/01/14!
For most Local 26 members, the easiest to obtain and most affordable coverage available will be the union healthcare plan. If you are already enrolled, and don’t need to make any changes or add any dependents to your plan, you do not need to complete a new enrollment form. You coverage will simply continue into the next year with the new benefit improvements included.
· Elimination of the annual cap on medical insurance: The current $100,000 calendar year benefit maximum is replaced with an “unlimited” benefit maximum. The rest of the medical insurance plan (through Cigna) will remain the same.
· Elimination of the annual cap on prescription drugs: The current $5,000 calendar year benefit maximum is replaced with an “unlimited” benefit maximum. The rest of the prescription drug benefit (through Caremark/CVS) will remain the same.
· Improved Dental: The current plan pays for services on a “fixed schedule” basis, often leaving us with big bills. The new plan (through Delta Dental) will pay for services on a “percentage” basis, which means less out of pocket costs for you.
· Vision coverage included: The current plan offers no vision coverage, but starting in 2014 the new benefit for vision care (through Cigna Vision) will include a yearly exam and new glasses or contact lenses once a year.
If you are not currently enrolled, all eligible full time employees should have received an enrollment packet by 10/01/13. If you have not received an enrollment packet, please call the union hall at 855-265-6225. Your enrollment form must be completed and returned to your company’s human resources department no later than 10/31/13.
Part-time workers, spouses, and others not covered on the union plan: Our union healthcare plan will not offer coverage for part-time workers or spouses, so it is important for you to learn about coverage options available through the “healthcare exchange” which may have subsidies available to help afford the necessary coverage. These and other options will be discussed at our upcoming healthcare fair.
Union Healthcare Fair:If you have any questions about the healthcare benefits through our union, or if you want to sign up for new state programs which may cover part-time workers and spouses who are not covered by our union healthcare plan, come to our Local 26 Healthcare Fair. Saturday October 19: 10am-6pm, Sunday October 20: 12pm-3pm, and Monday October 21: 6am-6pm. The location will be our Local 26 Union Hall located at 706 1st St N, Minneapolis, MN. Please contact Barbara Zeiss 202-730-7548 or Barbara.Zeiss@seiufunds.org or the Local 26 hall at 855-265-6225 if you have any questions about your health care benefits.
Excessive workload is a common problem throughout the janitorial industry. After negotiating 3 contracts we finally won new language that helps us fight against excessive workloads imposed on our members. Winning workload cases is never easy and we know it will always be a fight to achieve reasonable workloads, but this new language has given us a strong tool that has already helped us in several cases Thanks to members working together.in February we won new language in our union contracts that give us the right to demand a “workload review and walkthrough” with a union steward at our buildings. In April we began training 40 stewards on how to do “walkthroughs”, but the companies tried to stall. In response, workers and stewards organized, signed petitions, filed grievances and charges with the federal government. As a result of the building pressure, in the last two weeks we got our first “walkthroughs” and some real victories on workload:
HARVARD-5th St Towers: This was our first use of the new language, and after a walkthrough of 8 hours, followed by a negotiation between the company and the steward, the janitor won a reduction of a whole floor (equal to about an hour and a half each night).
·SBM-Medtronic: the company announced it would make a series of workload increases, but when the workers all requested “walk throughs”, the company decided to withdraw its proposed changes.
· ABLE-Washington Square: workers got the company to postpone changes for three months, and job descriptions in English, Spanish and French.
· ABM-La Salle: the company assigned 20 more hours per week to the building to help the janitors there, after a meeting with the steward and management.
· ABM-Normandale Lakes: In a meeting with workers, the company agreed to remove 45 minutes of work from a janitor (half the bathrooms on one of his floors).
· ABM-Best Buy: the workers got ABM to reduce the frequency of vacuuming and recycling to once every two weeks. They also won an amnesty (no workload disciplines for two months after the change), and detailed colored maps and written descriptions of their jobs.
· Marsden-Retek: Janitors are pushing the company to add 16 hours of help each week to the building
Minneapolis, MN – After two months without a contract, hundreds of hours of negotiations, and a one-day strike, today SEIU Local 26 janitors and security officers voted to approve new contracts which will help strengthen the middle class in the Twin Cities.
“This is a major victory for working families,” said Margarita Del Angel Lopez, a janitor who works at the IDS Center in Minneapolis. “We work hard to support our families, we fought hard against cuts that would have destroyed thousands of jobs. This shows that when we stand together, we can move forward together. These are the best contracts in the history of the local service sector industry.”
“Suburban security officers have been working for years without a raise,” said Fred Anthony II, a security officer from St Paul. “Some of them haven’t had a raise in up to eight or 10 years. This is the first time they have guaranteed contracts, guaranteed health care, guaranteed job security. It helps bring them out of poverty.”
More than 6,000 janitors and security officers won $1.20 raises over three years, which will pump $48 million into local communities. They also protected stable, full-time positions for thousands of workers. In addition, janitors and security officers secured better employer-based healthcare coverage, which will enable workers to access affordable coverage, rather than be forced to rely on public programs paid for by taxpayers.
This marks the first contract for 1,000 suburban security officers who formed their union with SEIU Local 26 in January 2011 – in addition to getting raises for the first time in years, they gained employer-based healthcare coverage for the first time ever.
“So often, we see the rich get richer, while the rest of us continue falling behind,” said Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26. “Seeing working people win is a very important thing. It’s a beautiful thing. And so congratulations to all of our members who worked hard for this win. Together, we are working toward a better future for all of Minnesota, where people who work for a living are able to make a living. We showed that the labor movement is alive and well in Minnesota.”
SEIU Local 26 janitors reached a tentative agreement last (more…)
On Friday, over 100 of our elected bargaining committee members met with both security and janitorial companies, before our deadline for a new contract. After more than 31 hours of marathon negotiations through the night, the janitorial companies agreed to a great new contract including:
Next Step :
Ratification Vote This is a big step forward for office janitors! As a result of the tentative agreement, our strike is cancelled, and we will have the member ratification vote this Saturday, March 2nd, 11am at the Local 26 hall. Find out more about the ratification event here.
Our bargaining committee unanimously recommends a YES vote.
Below are questions and answers about a strike over Unfair Labor Practices:
The companies’ proposal on January 8th would replace hundreds of full-time positions with part-time positions by changing Article 13, which sets requirements for the number of full-time positions in each building. Before we won Article (10 years ago),almost all janitorial work in the Twin Cities was part-time. Now most janitors are Full-Time and make $13.42 per hour. If your position becomes part-time,it means you would lose almost $2.50 per hour ! (The rate would be $10.95, plus you would lose your health insurance,vacation, and sick days.) How would the companies’ proposal affect your building ?See below:
1-Large Buildings Downtown(500,000 square feet or greater) 1 in 4 positions would become part time.
2-Medium Buildings Downtown(250,000 square feet or greater ) 1 in 2 positions would become part time.
3- Any Buildings in the Suburbus, all positions would become part-time.
~ $ 0 Pay Raise, and going backwards up to $2.50/hr:
The companies proposed no raise for 2013. Those who are cut from full-time to part-time would lose $2.50 per hour. Pay for full-time janitors in medium or small downtown buildings (less than 500,000 sq ft) would also drop a dollar per hour to $12.35. The companies tried to convince us that these wage cuts would just be for new employees, not the current janitors. But what do you think will happen to your job if suddenly all of the new hires make dollars less than you do? The spokesperson for the companies even acknowledged that other companies would try to undercut each other with these lower wage rates.
After five full days of negotiations, the companies still can’t seem to get themselves together. At the last meeting on December 27th, the companies didn’t come until 1:30pm (we started at 10:00am) and then at the last minute they announced they didn’t have the economic presentation they told us they would bring! We still are waiting for them to agree to a single one of the 23 articles where janitors proposed improvements.
|Wage for full time janitors per hour 2012||
|Health Insurance contribution by company per employee per hour||
|Pension contribution per employee per hour||
|Total Cost to company per employee||
The companies have claimed before that the rent tenants pay are much higher in other cities, so they can afford to pay them more. The only problem is … the average rent is actually higher in Minneapolis ($24/sq ft) than in Pittsburg ($21/sq ft)!
Over the course of four negotiation sessions since November, the companies have just gone in circles. They still haven’t agreed to a single article we proposed, but they are starting to see that the longer they stall, the angrier and more determined we get about:
Protecting our jobs: When the companies proposed using supervisors and sub-contractors to do our work, our committee stood its ground, and we counter-proposed a ban on all subcontracting and temp work. Janitors gave many powerful examples of how supervisors and temp workers cheated union janitors out of hours.
Respect : Everyone knows grievances take too long. Janitors proposed speeding up the process by giving the companies clearer deadlines and penalties if they don’t respond quickly. The companies said no, but the committee won’t back down.