A local union representing Polk County Public Schools employees has voted to accept salary and contract agreements for the 2019-20 school year that will help keep heath care costs from rising.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2227 represents bus drivers and attendants, school nutrition assistants, and custodial and maintenance personnel.
AFSCME’s three bargaining groups voted to ratify the three tentative contracts on Saturday (Nov. 16). These contracts are expected to be presented to the School Board for approval on Dec. 10, 2019.
Salaries will remain frozen for the 2019-20 school year, under the terms of these agreements.
The district will incur approximately $10 million in additional costs to stabilize the 2020 self-funded health plan.
Instead of passing this along to all employees on the health plan, the district will increase its monthly contribution on behalf of employees. If the needed $10 million were paid for by employees, the average cost would be approximately $800 per employee annually or approximately $65 monthly.
“As the president of AFSCME LOCAL 2227, I’m not happy that a raise is not part of these contracts,” said Larry Milhorn. “With the budget and money sent from the state legislature, we have agreed that putting money in the health plan was best for all the employees we represent.”
Deputy Superintendent John Hill commended all sides for prioritizing the health plan in light of the district’s tough budget realities.
“We appreciate everyone working together to keep our health plan as affordable as possible,” said Hill. “Of course, we would have liked to provide raises, but as an organization, it was imperative that we stabilize our health plan. We recognized that a small raise in salary would ultimately have been wiped out by a much more significant hike in health care costs. Under the terms of the ratified agreements, there will be no increases to premiums, co-pays or deductibles. I am proud of the professionalism and respect that everyone showed during the negotiations, and the way both sides of the table came together behind the shared priority of funding the health plan.”
The employee health plan costs remain unchanged from last year for all PCPS employees.
There is no monthly health insurance premium for the individual employee.
As in previous years, there are costs for covering family members. These monthly premium costs will stay the same as last year. The cost to insure the employee’s spouse is $594 per month. The cost to insure one child is $105 per month. The cost to insure two children is $210 per month. The cost to insure three or more children is $245 per month.
There is still no cost for employees, retired employees, their spouses, and children on the PCPS health plan to go to the school district’s two health clinics. The School Board contributes each month to make the free health clinics possible.
The school district and AFSCME also agreed on a number of changes that directly relate to working conditions for its membership. Here are a few highlights:
- If the school district requires an employee to have a physical or psychiatric examination, the school district must provide the employee with a list of practicing doctors who are not employees of the district’s health clinics. The district will continue to pay for the exam.
- Pursuant to federal laws, employees who are members of the national military service or the National Guard who are ordered to active or inactive training duty during the regular school year will be compensated for up to 240 hours in any one annual period to participate in training exercises without loss of accumulated leave.
- Employees who are service members of the National Guard or a reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States will be granted leave to perform their military service under the provisions of federal law and Florida statutes.