San Francisco City and County retirees are very concerned over the consequences of the charter change agreement made by the SF city worker union leadership with the support of the San Francisco Labor Council officials and the City that changes the governance structure of the HSS Board to give up a MEMBER seat to Management/the employer that nullifies Prop C AND requires the super majority vote of FIVE VOTES required to set rates to a four vote majority. (Prop C took away the City Attorney’s appointing authority and his new charter amendment gives appointing authority to the Controller…. No member representative will ever be appointed by MANAGEMENT)
No private union pension fund labor representative has ever given up their right to labor representation on their pension boards so why are San Francisco union officials now telling public workers to give up their right to elected representation on our pension and healthcare boards?
This is a member trust fund, as defined by charter and trust fund law. The governance board members must govern for “the exclusive benefit of the trust beneficiaries” and are fiduciaries, who are charged with protecting the trust. Votes over time, including recent votes, have demonstrated that appointed board members do NOT consider the “exclusive benefits… members…” in their votes.
That means that the employer, with FOUR appointed seats, will be setting health benefit rates to the advantage of the employer and not employees & retirees who are the beneficiaries of the trust fund. Currently, with a five vote requirement, all members of the HSS Board must work together to set rates that remain affordable for members.
Early retirees will be most affected initially since their premiums are directly related to active premiums. Active employees have contract agreements, which help defer portions of premiums so that employees can currently afford their health benefits. Retirees don’t have those provisions and will have to pick up the balance of the cost of their benefits. The City has been trying to raise retiree premiums significantly because they don’t want to continue to pay for retiree health medical benefits.
By relinquishing this voting majority section and allowing the employer full autonomy over the rate and benefits setting the responsibilities of the HSS board, retirees can anticipate that many of their benefits will be taken away and the premium costs for health coverage will soon become unaffordable.
It is likely that retirees will not qualify for Health San Francisco and so they will join the ranks of the uninsured. It is anticipated the premiums if this passes will increase to $500-$800 a month for one person and are doubled and tripled for dependents. For Medicare retirees, those rates will be in addition to the $350 paid to Medicare for health care. It is also anticipated that the new HSS Board with this four-vote employer majority will take away many health benefits, such as vision and hearing aid coverage. And the costs of prescriptions will become unaffordable by increasing generics $30 to $50 per prescription.
Health care is especially at risk especially for non-uniformed retirees with small pensions. (Misc. employees have much lower average pension than uniformed employees) Biggest risk is to retirees below 65 who do not have Medicare net.
This agreement has relinquished the employee health benefits trust fund over to the employer so that member representation will become mere window dressing with no governance power whatsoever.
City union members and retirees must go to the Board of Supervisors meetings to protest this blatant attack on city worker pensions and retiree pensions. The first meeting will be the SF Rules Committee meeting on the Mayor's Charter Amendment on pensions and health care is this Thursday, June 23, at 9 a.m. in the 2nd floor Supervisors' Chambers. Make your voice heard.
Union members must also call on their unions to withdraw all support for this deal and build a campaign to oppose both Mayor Lee’s deal and the so called Adachi “reforms”.
They must call for an education campaign to defend public workers, retirees and their pensions and healthcare benefits instead of spending time meeting with billionaires on how to cutback and destroy our hard won benefits built over many decades of struggle. While negotiating to destroy our pensions they still refuse to propose taxing the 18 billionaires in San Francisco and the super-rich in one of the wealthiest cities in the world. It’s time for a change!
Endorsed by United Public Workers For Action