There is good news for
AFSCME-represented (and other) state employees: PEBB, the Public Employees
Benefits Board that administers health care coverage for state workers, has
announced no increase in the 2015 premium rates. A domino effect means that
AFSCME members will receive a scheduled wage increase sooner than expected and many AFSCME state members will pay less for health
The COLA kick comes thanks
to an extra provision negotiated by AFSCME in the last state contract. Council
75 Executive Director Ken Allen spearheaded the inclusion of language in the
state contract that reads as follows:
For every one and
six-tenth percent (1.6 percent) that the 2015 PEBB projected composite rate is
below the projected five percent (5 percent) increase for Plan Year 2015, the
two percent (2 percent) across the board pay increase will be paid one (1)
month earlier than December 1, 2014 increase.
While the final calculations
aren't completed, Stacy Chamberlain, Oregon AFSCME's Collective Bargaining
Director and the union's representative on the PEBB Board of Directors, says it
appears employees could see the COLA come as early as September 2014 based on
the PEBB projections.
"If we have a good year,
that is the employees' money, not the state's, and they should receive it in
the form of an earlier COLA," Allen told state negotiators during Central Table
bargaining. AFSCME's insistence on that clause will now benefit all state
PEBB was also able to
maintain and even expand plan options in some areas (see attached PDF).
"We are pleased to announce
more options for more members," said Chamberlain, Oregon AFSCME. "Because more
than 95 percent of PEBB-covered employees will have a choice of two or more
plans, a contract proviso will be triggered that says those who select the
least expensive of the options will see their premium co-pay drop from 5
percent to 3 percent."
Chamberlain notes that
option rests entirely with the employee — those willing to pay the 5
percent for the more expensive plan may do so.
PEBB is the purchaser of
health care benefits for more than 130,000 Oregonians, using its buying power
to get the best health care available from health plans that serve its members.
Chamberlain says open enrollment will likely occur in October, with the new
plan year beginning on Jan. 1, 1015.