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Negotiations Update: Health Benefit Premiums Plan Year 2023; Negotiations 2022-2023

Health Benefit Rates Plan Year 2023

The Joint Labor-Management Benefits Committee (JLMBC) has reached an agreement regarding employee health benefits for the plan year 2023.  The JLMBC is comprised of members from all bargaining units (ACE, CSEA, FA, POA, and Teamsters).  

Health benefit premiums are funded through three sources: employee health benefit premiums, the District’s per employee per month (PEPM) contribution, and a rate stabilization fund (RSF) which offsets the difference between employee and District contributions and the actual premium cost. In a nutshell, here are the changes: 

  • Employee benefit health benefit premiums increase by seven percent.  See MOU for Plan Year 2023 employee contribution rates (LINK).
  • The District increases their PEPM from $1,062 to $1,132.   
  • The trial program for Bridge to Medicare allowing reimbursement for health plans outside of CalPERS plan ends December 31, 2022.  All other components of the Bridge to Medicare plan remain the same.
  • With funding from the state specific to part-time instructors for health benefits, the District increases the PEPM they pay from 40, 50 or 60 percent of the full cost of the premium to 50, 60 or 70 percent for eligible part-time instructors.  The percentage depends on the class load a part-time instructor teaches. 
  • Develop a formula-based approach to fund the RSF and employee benefits in the future. 

Plan Options

All plan options remain the same for the 2023 with an overall cost employee premium increase of seven percent. Blue Shield Access+ HMO and United Healthcare Alliance premiums will decrease by 65 percent to bring employee contribution rates in line with similarly priced plans. For retirees, a new Kaiser Senior Advantage Summit HMO has been added. 

It is important to remember that the bargaining units and the District negotiate who pays how much based on CalPERS’s plan options but neither has any say in what plans they offer, the cost of a plan including deductibles and co-pays, or what practitioners are included in those plans.

Rate Stabilization Fund

This year saw another large increase (eight percent) in heath benefit premiums from CalPERS .  We are projecting a $3 million drawdown to the RSF, leaving a little more than $3 million in the fund at the end of 2023.  To keep the fund viable, over the past six years the bargaining units have been able to negotiate an additional $2.8 million in one-time money to the RSF and increase the amount the District’s PEPM from $976 to $1,132. Employee premiums have gone up twice during that same time.  The RSF is the mechanism that keeps premium rates manageable. 

This year negotiating funds for the RSF has been more challenging.  There is money available.  The District’s tentative 2022-23 budget identifies nearly $19 million in discretionary funds from its projected $32 million stability fund balance.  The 2022-23 state budget has multiple one-time funding options and eliminates the fiscal cliff when hold harmless funding runs out in 2024-25. For example, the part-time health benefit funding from the state would actually save the District money. FHDA’s budget challenges – we’ve lost $10 million in ongoing funding with our decline in non-resident enrollment – and the District’s fiscally conservative/risk adverse nature leaves them unwilling to negotiate any funding to the RSF until they have a better understanding of the District’s 2021-2022 true ending balance once the cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) have been implemented and other liabilities have been fully realized.  They are also waiting on further details regarding 2022-23 state budget funding requirements and/or when funding from the state actually materializes, as is the case with part-time faculty health benefit funding.   

The good news, the District has acknowledged a shared interest in maintaining the RSF and, up against a deadline for rate submissions to our plan administrator for open enrollment in September, we have agreed to negotiate a formula-based approved to fund the RSF in October.  

2022-2023 – ACE Negotiations Update

In June your negotiations team sent a member survey to prioritize items to be bargained for the year 2022-2023.  As a reopener year, in addition to Article 8 (pay and allowances) and Article 18 (benefits), ACE and the District can each open two additional articles.  For 2022-23, we’ve already settled the COLA at 5.56 percent.  Benefits are negotiated jointly with the other bargaining units, and we will resume that process in October.  For articles pertinent to ACE, with a 35 percent response rate, the top three issues identified in the survey were:

  1. Vacation accrual
  2. Remote work options
  3. Eligibility for promotion

You’ll find a synopsis of the survey results here (LINK).  Your negotiating team is researching proposal options around these issues and will keep the membership posted on the next steps and, if necessary, requests for additional membership input.

In Solidarity,

Chris White, chair of negotiations

Sushini Chand
Chris Chavez
Joseph Gilmore
Keri Kirkpatrick
Andrea Santa Cruz
Scott Olsen 

2022.05.05 COLA Tentative Agreement Summary, May 10th General Membership Meeting + Voting Beings

ACE Members,

We are happy to confirm the terms of our Joint Labor Management Bargaining Agreement regarding cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2021-22 and 2022-23.  As a rule, we do not share the terms of the agreement until we have a signed tentative agreement (TA).  We have done this long enough to know language used in TAs can alter what we all thought an agreement meant and until we see it and sign it, it’s not confirmed.  

Effective July 1, 2021, each ACE, CSEA, FA, POA, and Teamsters salary schedule shall include: 

  • The 2.5 percent currently set to expire June 30, 2022, is now permanent and ongoing.  
  • Reminder:  this portion has been included in your pay since July 1, 2021. 
  • Since it is now permanent, employees and employer will need to pay for their portion of CalPERS contributions not collected on the 2.5 percent effective July 1, 2021.
    By law, the District cannot pay the employees portion unless there was an error in reporting. 
  • Plus, an additional 5.07 percent ongoing (the full 21-22 State COLA).
  • For simplicity – this is the amount your salary will increase.
  • In terms of retroactive pay, it will cover the 5.07 percent, with normal deductions for CalPERS, minus the employee portion for CalPERS deduction on the 2.5 percent effective July 1, 2021.

Effective July 1, 2022, each ACE, CSEA. FA, POA and Teamsters salary schedule shall increase by: 

  • 22-23 State COLA less 1%.
    • For example, if the state COLA is 5.75%, the additional increase will be 4.75%; if the state COLA is 6.2%, the additional increase will be 5.2%. 
    • The Governor’s 2022-23 January budget proposal had a 5.33 percent COLA included. Since then, there has been discussion it could be even higher. The Governor’s budget May revise (mid-May) should tell us what the COLA is set to be for 2022-23.

Why did we give up one percent of the COLA for 2022-23?
As mentioned in previous emails, the District does have some rising costs that needs to be addressed. Namely, pension liability. The COLA is one of very few revenues stream the District can use to cover increasing operational costs.  The one percent we gave up as a part of negotiations was to make sure the District had additional funds to cover rising costs. 

When do we get the money?
This is unknown. “Implementation shall commence as soon as possible following Union ratification, where required, and approval by the Board of Trustees. Given the short timeline, and as this requires additional programming and system modification, the parties agree to not commit to a specific deadline for implementation. The District will make a good faith effort to implement as quickly as possible”.

Reminder:  Every department in this district is understaffed and payroll and human resources are no different.   It is a workload issue with not enough people who are familiar with our process to do the work.  ACE has been telling the board of trustees since we incorporated in 2009 that cuts to staffing have a critical impact on how the work gets done.  Single points of failure in a system which then affect all employees.  We need to keep hammering home this issue so adequate staffing levels are addressed.

What if I retire or quit before the COLA is paid out?  
You will still receive the back pay up to your final date of employment.  The implementation date is July 1, 2021, meaning it is as if they were paying you at that salary level from July 2, 2021.

Next steps:

  1. Get a signed TA on this agreement. (In process.) 
  2. Inform the membership, in writing, the terms of the TA. ✅
  3. General Membership Meeting: May 10th @ Noon.
  4. Membership votes on approving TA: May 10th @ 1pm thru May 13th @ 2pm.
  5. Goes to the June FHDA board of trustees meeting for approval.

On behalf of the ACE Negotiations Team, 

Chris White, chair of negotiations

Sushini Chand
Chris Chavez
Joseph Gilmore
Keri Kirkpatrick
Andrea Santa Cruz
Scott Olsen
Bradley Booth, chief negotiator

2022.04.15 Update – Stewards, COLA, Noise & Actions

ACE Members,

I’ve served as president for a little over 100 days. Throughout navigating unique challenges across the district, what has always brought me confidence is our contract agreement (LINK) and working alongside an amazing executive board. The first thing I do each day when I start my computer is open the agreement in a browser tab as a reference for enforcing workplace ground rules. When there’s an issue the contract doesn’t cover, I reach out to my fellow troublemakers. If you need something concrete to stand on or someone to help to resolve a workplace concern, follow my example: (1)know your contract and (2)contact a steward.

What does an ACE Steward do? (I asked one for their answer)
I would say that as a steward I provide members assistance interpreting and clarifying the contract; provide consultation over potential violations regarding wages, hours of work and other conditions of employment described in the collective bargaining agreement; represent our members in the workplace; provide assistance with the grievance process.

Section 5.3 of our Constitution goes into detail regarding the duties of a Steward (LINK)

Who are our Stewards?
@Erika Flores (Chief Steward – De Anza)
@Adriana Garcia (Steward – De Anza)
@Anthony Caceres (Chief Steward – Central Services)
@Scott Olsen (President)

ACE is looking for a Foothill Chief Steward. Contact me if you are interested in the position. I’ll send out a separate announcement with additional details soon.

Congratulations to @Andre Meggerson on obtaining a new position at De Anza 🥳 Thank you for your years of excellent service.

Cost-of-Living Adjustment for 21-22 and 22-23
Currently negotiations are underway for a salary increase, but the distance between initial proposals is big. I recognize it’s alarming to see reactions like the Faculty Association’s work to contract and ACE’s guidance to not give away your work for free, but despite us doing “compassion and care work” we are essential workers and deserve be compensated fairly for our role in paving the way for the institution to succeed in its mission.

What makes 21-22 and 22-23 negotiations different from other years is that the COLA is being negotiated for all bargaining units at the same time. We are working hand-in-hand with FA, CSEA, Teamsters and POA. During this process when there’s a call for support, we’re going to do what we can to stand in solidarity.

Noise Made / Actions Taken
At the Trustees meeting (statement included below) I highlighted that it had been a year since the classification study had been approved and all members have yet to be paid. In addition to delays, we are struggling to resolve inaccuracies like overpayments and unilateral step adjustments which reduced March paychecks for members – most likely you saw a copy of our cease-and-desist as an immediate response. Chris White would repeatedly remind members to always check your paystub and I will begin to do the same. ACE has since met with HR and is actively working to resolve both issues – affected employees will be notified separately.

Retirees, I will follow up with information once I am provided with a specific payment date for what you are due. Thank you to those who submitted public comments to the Board of Trustees.

I’m looking forward to finalizing the classification study and beginning to work on future initiatives that continue to benefit members. ACE has negotiated great things in the past and we will continue to do so in the future.

Site Meetings (Check Outlook to Join)
De Anza/Central Services
Tue, April 19th Noon – 1:00 PM

Foothill/ Central Services
Thu, April 21st  Noon – 1:00 PM

Events Basics of Savings and Investing
Thu, April 21, 2022 4:00 PM – 5 PM PDT

“A Song for Cesar” documentary followed by a panel discussion
Fri, April 29, 2022 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM PDT
Smithwick Theatre, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
(Register via Eventbrite)

Take Care,

Scott Olsen (he/him) | ACE President |
650-949-7789 | M-F 8:00am-5:00pm


It’s been one year since the classification study was approved by this board and ACE members have yet to be fully compensated accurately. I include the word “accurately” after being notified on March 17th that some were allegedly overpaid. On that same day ACE issued a demand for (1)a list of the employees who’ve been allegedly overpaid, (2)the amount of overpayment and (3)the reason they were overpaid. No response was received before employees were asked to sign a document agreeing to return money. A cease-and-desist letter citing labor code and ed code violations was sent to the district by our attorney group.

Background calculations that attempt to identify the logic behind the study’s back pay for March were not provided for most recipients, unlike for February. The lack of this information creates confusion and uncertainty for employees.

On March 31st employees began to question a “pay discrepancy” when they found their current paychecks were lower than in previous months. Their base salary had been unilaterally lowered as a result of moving them to a lower step without notice. Today ACE issued a similar demand for (1)a list of the affected employees, (2)the amount of discrepancy and (3)the reason for this discrepancy and (4)to meet and confer over the impact and implementation of salary disputes. These actions are contrary to negotiated agreements, violate California Labor Code section 222 and clearly an unfair labor practice.

Mental health was the underlying topic of this morning’s flex day. While individual self-care was promoted as a solution, in a relationship the onus to resolve an issue falls on both parties. As our employer I would ask that you find the capacity to provide advance warning, communicate clearly, respond to requests, and be accurate, especially when it comes to the topic of compensation. Modifying future behavior would reduce financial anxiety and stress for my members along with demonstrating dignity and respect.