Pension Constitutional Amendment Recap
The Constitutional Amendment will not be on the ballot in November 2016. Senate President Sweeney did not post the resolution placing the Constitutional Amendment on the ballot by the deadline, August 6, 2018.
CWA has suspended the dues increase effective October 2016. This goes in accordance with the State employee contract. County and Local Government Locals are also taking steps to suspend the dues increase.
Over the past year, a significant amount of polling and testing in focus groups went into determining that 2016 was the best year to pass the Amendment. The coalition of public sector labor unions are still determining if 2017 is viable in the event Senator Sweeney does post the Constitutional Amendment for 2017.
Gubernatorial Election Preview
Local Presidents and local representatives to the union’s Legislative and Political Action Committee will meet to chart a plan and think closely about whether or not to endorse in the primary for the 2017 election for NJ governor.
Health Benefits Update
In 2011 under Chapter 78 (Pension and Health Benefits Reform law), the right to collectively bargain health care was lost in the State Health Benefits Plan. Instead, a State Health Benefits Plan Design Committee (SHBPDC) was formed to negotiate health care plans. The SHBPC has 6 Christie-appointed representatives and 6 union representatives (CWA, PBA, FMBA, STFA, AFT, and AFSCME). In order to pass a change in plan design, either side of the committee needs 7 votes.
Open Enrollment for State employees will begin in October. There will be a Shop Stewards training on the two new plans offered.
At CWA’s objection, one member of the SHPDC from the PBA voted with management granting management the ability to make the following changes:
For State employees: On prescription drugs, there will now be mandatory generics. If there is not a medical reason to not take the generic, the brand of the prescription will not be covered.
There will now be a formulary, where if there is a cheaper drug that does the same as the more expensive drug, you will be required to take the cheaper drug.
There is an appeals process by which your doctor will have to submit documentation on why you need to take the brand/ more expensive prescription.
These changes will not be taking place until January. If you are taking a prescription that is not on the formulary, you will receive a letter in October stating so.
Retirees who are Medicare eligible will now be covered under a Medicare Advantage Plan. There is no change in coverage, but the care will now be coordinated through the insurer.
State Worker Bargaining
Two unions in the Executive Branch have accepted The Christie Administration settlement offer: IFPTE and IBEW.
The contracts ate 4-year contracts with wage increases of 0% (2015), 0% (2016), 1.75% (2017), 1.5% (2018) across the board. The contract does restore increments.
The CWA Bargaining Committee is not happy with these settlements, knowing the administration is not likely to give more considering the pattern set by the other unions. Bargaining Committee is discussing the prospect of settling or bargaining a new contract under the next Governor.
Presidential Election Update
CWA has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.
Trump has already announced that Chris Christie will lead his transition team.
Important contested elections in Pennsylvania (U.S. Senate and a Congressional race).