Jeffco BOE implements unilateral health insurance increases without bargaining

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Jeffco employees received emails about premium increases and plan changes on Wednesday, April 20th.  This is because the Jeffco Board of Education took action at their April 7th Board meeting to authorize these changes. 

This is a violation of our Collective Bargaining Agreement and violates the principles of good faith bargaining. The district implemented a unilateral change to the benefit without bargaining, and has deliberately misled JESPA throughout the process.  JESPA filed a grievance on behalf of the entire JESPA bargaining unit.  Here is that grievance:

Statement of grievance:

On April 7th, the Jeffco Board of Education took action to authorize district staff to finalize the health insurance benefit renewals for the 2022/2023 fiscal year and to authorize the chief financial officer to sign and approve agreements.

This action is taken in blatant violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreements.

The district, by allowing an insurance broker to advise the Benefits Advisory Committee, which has no written process or policy, is creating a conflict of interest. The district is misappropriating tax-payer dollars into a system that benefits billionaire brokers and insurance companies and that harms Jeffco’s hard-working and dedicated Education Support Professionals. This system impacts on the lowest wage earners, ESPs, which represent the majority of the district’s working class, minority, and underrepresented communities.  The district’s actions are blatantly inequitable.

Using deliberate dishonesty and moral obliquity, implementing a major unilateral change without bargaining, dragging out the negotiation process with no focus or effort being made to actually come to an agreement, bringing “presentations” instead of proposals, diverting and deflecting from the issues in order to avoid making proposals, and hiding significant material facts during negotiations in order to gain position, the district is acting in a fraudulent manner and is bargaining in bad faith.

Applicable CBA Articles, etc:

This grievance is filed based on Article 3 and all other applicable articles and sections of the JESPA CBA as well as related board policies procedures and practices.

3-2 Conducting Negotiations
3-2-1 All provisions of this Agreement pertaining to compensation and benefits will be subject to negotiations each year of the Agreement including, but not limited to, salary advances, cost of living allowances, employee health and welfare benefits, the District contribution towards those benefits, additional performance pay, additional coverage pay, outdoor lab pay, reclassifications, and sick leave payout.
3-2-2 The Board, through its designated representatives, shall meet with representatives of the JESPA and shall negotiate for the purpose of modifying this Agreement. In addition to compensation and benefits, each party to this Agreement shall have the option to submit two (2) items of their choice for negotiation, issues for mutual Agreement, and taskforce initiatives in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and 2024.

Per the Agreement ratified by the Jeffco BOE and JESPA Membership, there should have been 3 meetings to discuss the process of the Benefits Advisory Committee related to timing and application of benefits changes and negotiations: once in May 2021, and twice during the 21-22 school year.

In addition, this action by the Board of Education violated the 2021 Ratification Agreement approved by JESPA members and the Board of Education and the outcome of JESPA grievance 931.

Relief Requested:

The district must bargain in good faith with JESPA and cease bad faith negotiations tactics. The district must cease false negotiations, surface and piecemeal bargaining, and other bad faith and union-busting tactics. The Board of Education and Tracy Dorland must participate in future bargaining sessions instead of using spokespersons who do not have the authority to create proposals or counter proposals and who are creating delays to avoid bargaining or reaching agreement. The district must bargain the rules and structure of the benefits advisory committee and remove all outside consultants and brokers from internal committees. All JESPA bargaining unit members must be made whole. And any other mutually agreed upon remedies.

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