City and AFSCME reach labor agreement

The City of Rockford’s AFSCME union on Thursday, Nov. 9, voted to ratify the contract terms of a collective bargaining agreement through 2009. Central to the contract negotiations was the implementation of significant modifications to the Health Benefit Plan. Employee contributions to the current PPO plan through deductibles and employee premiums will increase from the present 5 percent to an estimated 20 percent of Plan costs over the next three years. Additional benefits will include a wellness plan, life insurance and an optional High Deductible Health Savings Account Plan, with a zero premium contribution for 2007 and 2008.

Base wages for AFSCME union employees will increase at 3.5 percent retroactive to Jan. 1, 2006. For 2007, the increase will be 3.5 percent, and for 2008 and 2009, the increase will be 4 percent per year. The City’s AFSCME C Unit Head Start employees will have the same changes to terms on wages and insurance through 2007.

Mayor Larry Morrissey applauded the AFSCME union for their recognition of the need to increase contributions to maintain a sustainable Health Benefit Plan. “Our AFSCME union employees have exhibited great leadership in accepting the City’s challenge to improve the Health Benefit Plan and increase overall health and security of the City’s employees and their families. With these changes, the benefits plan will improve delivery of health services to our employees, at a cost that will not jeopardize the City’s ability to maintain current service levels. Our employees will also benefit by better personal health through pursuit of the wellness plan initiatives. Their families will also enjoy increased economic security through the life insurance options of the plan.”

The City Council approved the contract terms Monday, together with an ordinance that placed the City’s non-union employees in the same Health Benefit Plan for 2007.

From the Nov. 15-21, 2006, issue

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