You may have noticed recently that your prescriptions copays have gone up. In the contract that we ratified in June of 2006, we negotiated a modest increase in our prescription drug benefit which went into effect on 12/1/07. The new plan now calls for copays of $7, $15, and $25 for generic, formulary and non-formulary drugs, respectively. While it is a jump from the $5 and $10 we were paying, the new plan is still more favorable than other public and private employee prescription plans.
Wage Increases and Step Increases
Our wages increased 1% on 12/1/04, 1% on 12/1/05, 2% on 6/1/06, 1.5% on 12/1/06, and 2.5% on 6/1/07. The 2% increase scheduled for the first full pay period after 12/1/07 however, has not appeared on our checks which we received on 12/28/07. Needless to say, this is not the first time the County has frozen our wages while trying to pass the next fiscal year’s budget resolution. In previous years, we filed grievances which were withdrawn when the budget was passed and retroactive payments were made to the membership. Last year, Council 31, our exclusive bargaining agent, decided not to withdraw the grievance and took it to arbitration. The result of the arbitration decision last year was that we won by convincing the arbitrator that the County was engaging in an unfair labor practice. While we asked for 6% interest, the arbitrator ruled that the County didn’t really know any better so he wouldn’t award interest. Now, even with that precedent, the County continues to engage in this most unfair of labor practices. This time we will advocate, once again, for interest on our retro checks–and hopefully, we will get it.
And finally, we are scheduled to get a wage increase of 2.75% on 6/1/08. In addition, we negotiated an extra 1% to our to our pay grid to offset the increase in health care contributions that are scheduled to take effect the same day as our pay increase. This extra 1% is currently the topic of another arbitration that has not yet been scheduled. We are anticipating that arbitration will be resolved in our favor well before the pay increase is scheduled to go into effect.
The local has been notified that as of 1/1/08, the amount taken form our paycheck of AFSCME union dues will increase. The increase in membership dues is imposed pursuant to the International Constitution, Article IX, Section 6. The increase is not large enough to require a vote of the general membership but the increase may, nevertheless, be noticed by some of you.
Currently, members pay roughly $550 per year. (Refer to your deductions on your pay stub and multiply by 26 pay periods). An increase of $1.29 per pay period will be added to the previous deduction amount ($21.11) so the total will now be $22.40 per pay period. Hence, your union dues for 2008 will be approximately $582.
Our sole fair share member will see his dues go to $18.14 per pay period.