April 6, 2018
Gary Hoadley, VSEA Labor Relations Director
On April 4, DHR Commissioner Beth Fastiggi released a letter to state employees on behalf of Governor Scott and his Administration. The letter provided the State’s overview of its Last Best Offer (LBO) and its impact on the state workforce. I know that some VSEA members are confused after reading the State’s manipulation of the details in its failed attempt to convince state employees that the imposed contract changes are fair and reasonable.
The State claims that, like VSEA, it would have preferred to reach an agreement at the bargaining table. Obviously, the State and VSEA had very different ideas of what a negotiated settlement would include. The Vermont Labor Relations Board concluded that the State proposals were more reasonable and more in the public interest than VSEA. As you clearly now know, the imposed contract changes demanded by the Scott Administration are not in the best interest of state employees, retirees, and their respective families.
While the Scott Administration combines the cost of step movement and across-the-board increases to inflate your wage increase, you know better. I will use familiar terms:
All bargaining unit employees except VSP Lieutenants
- January 2019 – Wage increase of 1.35% (0.675% new money FY19)
- January 2020 – Wage increase of 1.35% (0.675% new money FY20)
- Step increases continue each year
- Increase in minimum annualized salary to $29,100
A mid-year raise of 1.35% means 0.675% more in actual money. In FY19, you will receive two-thirds of one penny more on each dollar than in FY18. In FY20, you will receive two-thirds of one penny more on each dollar than in FY19.
Vermont State Police Lieutenants only
- January 2019 – Wage increase of 0.6% (0.3% new money FY19)
- January 2020 – Wage increase of 0.6% (0.3% new money FY20)
- Step increases continue each year
A mid-year raise of 0.6% means 0.3% more in actual money. In FY19 you will receive three-tenths of one penny more money on each dollar than in FY 18. In FY20 you will receive three-tenths of one penny more on each dollar than in FY19.
The Scott Administration claims that the changes to the health plans are “relatively modest” and should have a positive impact on future health care premium rates. Commissioner Fastiggi, during an interview with WCAX, decribed these changes as “minor modifications.”
Health Insurance changes for All Three Units
- 100% Increase to Prescription Deductible ($25 to $50)
SELECT CARE HEALTH PLAN ONLY:
- 25% Increase to Office Visit copays for non-specialists ($20 to $25)
- 100% Increase to Office Visit copays for specialists ($20 to $40)
- 100% Increase to Emergency Room copays ($50 to $100)
- Create NEW copay for each MRI of $50
- Eliminate employees from decisions on the prescription drug formulary
- Eliminate VSEA rights to contest violations of the contract on prescription drugs
- Implement Drug Quantity Management
- Implement Prior Authorization for Prescription Drugs
Do you think these changes are “relatively modest?” Only “minor modifications?” Do you think these changes will have a positive impact on you and your family? Do you believe that Governor Scott is protecting the most vulnerable, ill, or elderly in your family?
The Scott Administration clearly knows that increases in copays and pharmacy deductible will also impact retirees, judiciary employees, state troopers, and all managerial employees who also share these health plans; creating savings far greater than the amount shifted to fund wage increases.
State employees and retirees are likely not fooled by the Adminstration’s letter intended to calm fears and suggest these changes are necessary for all. Governor Scott, do you feel better now?
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