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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

01.26.2022 “It’s January, Where’s My $2,300?”

ACE Members,

Last week at the combined ACE site meeting I began to spread the news that the district had not completed everything required to calculate and gain Board of Trustees approval to disperse the funds that we had expected “barring significant implementation challenges” in our January paychecks.

  • Currently Human Resources is “aiming” for the pro-rated $2,300 payment to be included in your end of February paycheck.
  • I am making all the noise I can to have this included on the February 14th Board of Trustees agenda.
  • I am communicating that we need to know specifically when these payments will arrive and advance notice to plan how to handle them.

“Pro-rated” means you will receive $153.35 for each of the 15 months you worked from March ‘20 thru June ’21.
“Aiming” means this is not a guarantee.

The entire memorandum of understanding (MOU) is on our website:
along with all of our MOUs: