In what feels like a never-ending sea of uncertainty, here are two things that we hope will hopefully take some of that away.
The Short Version:
- ACE will continue to forgive dues through December 30, 2020.
- The employee health care contribution rate for 2021 will not go up.
Dues forgiveness through December 30, 2020
Earlier this month, we surveyed the membership and asked two questions: 1) Due to COVID-19 and the resulting shelter in place (SIP), has your income been negatively impacted? 53 percent of you said yes. 2) When asked why 27 percent had lost their second job, 46 percent stated a loss of income from another financial contributor to the household, 75 percent stated increased household expenses from working remotely and the SIP, and nearly 9 percent needed to reduce their contract to take care of family members as a result of SIP. For the second question, survey respondents could check all that apply. The survey had a response rate of 52 percent.
This information helped inform our budget planning for 2020-2021. Our priority is always to support our membership. Through smart financial planning over the years along with savvy financial investing by our treasurer – our interest income increased 15 percent over the previous year – we are able to support the membership in this tangible way. We still have $500,000 for a strike fund, $10,000 for a five percent reserve, $25,000 for unsettled litigation (CalPERS), and $100,000 for any legal action related to the classification study.
The takeaway? This is only possible because we are an independent labor association. If we still belonged to CSEA or SEIU, we would have no control over how our dues are spent.
One of our founding executive officers, Bradley Creamer, webmaster at Foothill said it best, “The most important thing I learned as part of an independent union was the value in making decisions ourselves… and the power to prioritize those important decisions”.
Employee Health Care Contribution Rates for 2021 Plan Year
Yesterday, the Joint Labor-Management Benefits Council (JLMBC) agreed employee health care contribution rates for 2021 will remain at the 2020 level. This is the fifth year in a row in which the bargaining units have been able to negotiate no increase. And health care costs are rising. This year, the overall increase to premiums is 5.3 percent. Over the past five years, the average increase has been three percent a year.
How can we keep our cost the same? Health benefits are paid from three sources: employee contributions, district contributions, and a Rate Stabilization Fund (RSF). The RSF started with $10 million dollars almost a decade ago to help stabilize rising health care costs. To date, we have used approximately $3 million of the RSF which was supposed to be depleted within three years. The RSF covers the difference between what employees and the district pay and the actual premium cost. Over the past five years, the bargaining units have also been able to negotiate an additional $2.8 million in one-time money to the RSF and increase the amount the District pays per employee per month (PEPM), from $976 to $1,011.
The takeaway? This is only possible because of collective bargaining. It is worth saying again, health care costs are rising every year, and without collective bargaining that cost would get passed on to you.
On behalf of the ACE Executive Board