JESPA started engaging in the battle for quality healthcare two years ago. We started by demanding a fair structure for the Benefits Advisory Committee and by identifying one source of the problem with benefits: the district’s FLAT contribution per employee enrolled in health insurance. That flat contribution means that even if our health insurance premiums go up, there is NO impact on the district’s budget. The increased costs and worsening plans fall solely on the employees, and there has been no incentive for the district to negotiate more forcefully with health insurance companies. JESPA bargaining unit employees covering families report that either most or all of their income is paying for their health insurance, leaving little if any for any other costs of living. If they cover themselves, they are left to choose an individual plan with the growing deductibles and out of pocket costs, leaving many forced to choose between doctor visits and food, medication or rent.
What gives? Our goal is a fair, transparent system that is not dominated by insurance brokers, consultants, and district administrators who have no skin in the game. The district has resisted our proposals for paying a percentage of insurance premiums, continuing to offload those costs on us.
In response to our stories, public comment, and actions, the Jeffco Board of Education asked the district to present at a study session earlier this week. We are glad the Board of Education asked hard questions of Lockton and district administrators. Watch the video here for the full presentation and board questions and discussion (move video forward to start at 1:40:00)
We believe there are multiple solutions available but there is no incentive for the consultant, and insurance to offer these solutions. One solution might be pooling benefits with other districts, which you can see in the video below the district administration argues against due to “flexibility.”
The Benefits Advisory Committee (BAC) had been run for too long outside with administrators making decisions in collaboration with insurance brokers and companies to the detriment of the district’s workforce. When the committee made decisions regarding healthcare which JESPA found to be a violation of the JESPA Collective Bargaining Agreement. We filed two class action grievances in Spring 2022 around these violations. We demanded to bargain a BAC that is transparent to our members who serve on this committee and that creates fairness, equity, and accountability around how we do health insurance in Jeffco.
Thanks to JESPA’s grievances and demands, BAC now has rules has 9 voting members: 3 JESPA, 3 JCEA, and 3 JCAA members are the voting body. However, district administrators are still making plans outside of the BAC structure. Although we sit on the BAC, and demanded its reneogitation, BAC does not have authority around benefits decisions and should only be making recommendations to bring to bargaining. The BAC changes was the first step in starting to turn the ship on health benefits. And we are working on turning around a mighty big ship!
Renegotiating the BAC was just one step in the plan. Stay tuned and attend member meetings, take surveys, and more to stand with your coworkers on this important fight!