TENTATIVE AGREEMENT ON HEALTH BENEFITS REACHED
- LTA and district bargaining teams met twice over the summer.
- District floated the idea of delaying or even renegotiating the one-time 1% payment to teachers due in December 2019. LTA rejected any such proposals as this is money that has already been agreed to and is owed to teachers.
- Due to ongoing budget crisis, district has no ability to continue the 3-year MOU increasing its contributions to health benefits. The STRS savings LTA had previously identified to fund an additional year of the MOU have all been directed toward paying outstanding debts to the county and other sources. Therefore, district contributions to health benefits will revert to permanent contractual levels. However, due to disagreements over what the district’s actual contractual contribution levels should be, LTA and the district have agreed to use LTA’s calculations for 2019-2020 and form a committee to determine what the correct baseline level of district contributions should be starting in 2020-2021.
Total Plan Cost (monthly)
District Contribution (monthly)
Cost to Employees (monthly)
|Employee + 1||$1,260.67||$863.24||$397.43|
|Employee + 1||$1,437.44||$911.66||$525.78|
|Employee + 1||$1,159.12||$823.83||$335.29|
|Employee + 1||$1,322.44||$823.83||$498.61|
Health Savings Account
|Employee + 1||$2,217.16||$958.50||$1,258.66|
On Thursday, July 11, the LTA Bargaining Team – Lisa Rubio (Huerta), Gary Moore (LMS), Jim Nadler (LMS), Andrew Staiano (CTA staff), and LTA President, Priscilla Avila (sitting in for Bargaining Chair, Brian Guerrero) – met with the LSD team – Sherry Johnstone (interim Personnel), John Vinke (interim Business), Eric Medrano (SpEd), Lissett Pichardo (LMS principal), and Steve Andelson (attorney). The district gave an update on the district budget and the various outside auditors working with the interim administration to straighten out district finances. Besides several large, previously under-reported or unreported costs than must now be paid in full, cash flow was a major concern, particularly in August/ September and December. The district team wondered aloud about delaying or even renegotiating the one-time 1% salary payment to teachers agreed to last May; the LTA Bargaining Team said absolutely not. The district team made no formal counterproposal to LTA’s last proposal on health benefits (to continue the 3-year MOU on increased health benefits for 1 more year).
On Tuesday, August 13, the LTA Bargaining Team met with the LSD team again. The meeting began with another budget update. Known outstanding debts had not changed significantly since July, cash flow remained a concern, and district shared that FCMAT will be joining the multitude of auditors already reviewing the district’s books. The district expects the budget submitted to the county on July 1 for 2019-2020 to be rejected because it falls approximately $600,000 short of required 3% minimum reserves. District staff spent most of the summer identifying further cost-cutting measures, including reducing classified positions (through eliminating vacant positions, voluntary resignations, and offering early retirement incentives to senior custodians), reducing the number of certificated teacher on special assignment positions, and scheduling 5 furlough days for all management (equivalent to an approximately 2.5% salary reduction for the year, plus management will not receive the one-time 1% payment in December).
Next, the district team presented LTA with a formal proposal on health benefits stating that the district would be unable to renew the 3-year MOU on increased health benefits. For reference, the district’s proposal included what the district believed the contractual baseline contribution rates should be. Upon analysis, the LTA team disagreed with the district’s calculation of baseline contribution rates, believing that the correct rates for district contributions should be higher for several plans (the LTA team believes that an error occurred when the district calculated baseline contribution rates a few years ago and was it never corrected; this error hasn’t affected teachers because our rates have been determined by the MOU for the last 3 years, but – if true – it might have affected classified employees, who have been at the baseline contribution rates all along). Accepting that the district couldn’t afford to renew the MOU (and that LACOE wouldn’t approve an agreement with district contributions at that level), the LTA team proposed a contribution rate table that would even out district contributions across similar plans (right now, the district contributes more to employee +1 and family in some plans than it does in others). District rejected the LTA proposal because those contribution rates would still be higher than the contractual baseline in some cases and restated that the district simply could not go higher than the contractual rates. The district team proposed a compromise rate table, with district contribution rates somewhere between the district’s calculations and LTA’s calculations. The LTA team rejected this proposal because anything lower than the correct baseline rates would actually be a cut. Finally, the district agreed to use the LTA calculated contribution rates for 2019-2020 on the contrition that representatives from both teams would meet in the next few months to look back at historic district contribution rates and determine the true contractual baseline rates to be used when calculating district and employee contributions starting in 2020-2021.
Other than the agreement on health benefits, both teams agreed to drop all other proposals in order to close negotiations for the 2019-2020 year. This means the district has withdrawn proposals related to Article 3: Association Rights, Article 4: Grievance Procedures, and Article 8: Assignments & Transfers, and LTA has withdrawn additional proposals related to Article 9: Class Sizes, although the March 5, 2019 MOU on class sizes remains in effect for 2019-2020 and LTA will continue to work toward fairness in class sizes at LMS increased by the inclusion of small SpEd classes in average class-size calculations as well as in student-to-staff ratios in the elementary PE program.
As always, the LTA Bargaining Team is committed to improving the learning environment for students and the working conditions for teachers. We understand members’ disappointment that the MOU increasing district contributions to health benefits will not be renewed and the hardship this may cause many our members and their families (most members of the LTA Bargaining Team are currently on employee + 1 or family plans themselves). Between disastrous district finances, strict county oversight, and the threat of increased state and county authority if the district’s fiscal situation isn’t improved, making sure that the district is completely and correctly fulfilling its contractual obligations is the best the LTA Bargaining Team believes can be achieved. For anyone tempted to reject this tentative agreement out of frustration or the belief that continued negotiations might achieve something better, remember that the 3-year MOU has expired at this point and a return to permanent contractual baseline rates for district contributions has already happened. This agreement did not make it happen; it happened automatically. What this agreement achieves is getting the district to agree to use our LTA calculated (higher) rates as the baseline rather than their calculated (lower) rates. If this agreement is rejected – by our membership, by the School Board, or by the LACOE fiscal advisor – then we will default to the district’s calculated lower contribution rates.
For anyone who wants to track changes in contribution rates (district and employee) over the years, your LTA Bargaining Team has created four charts showing how different plans have developed. The district currently offers a total of 15 different plans and coverage levels; the four shown here are meant to illustrate different trends in health benefit rates.
The blue bars show the district’s contractually required contributions to our health benefits each year, based on a formula in permanent contract language. Note that the district’s contributions have always gone up, but that in recent years the total costs of the plans have gone up faster than the district’s contributions, so the employee share of the costs have increased, too.
The red bars show extra contributions the district made to our health benefits in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. We didn’t negotiate these extra contributions, the district just said they wanted to do something to help out the employees. Ironically, the extra money the district put into health benefits in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 is one of the things that contributed to the deficit we are dealing with, and one of the reasons your LTA Bargaining Team was unable to renew the health benefits MOU this year.
The green bars show the extra contributions the district made for 3 years as a result of the health benefits MOU LTA did negotiate. The MOU raised the minimum district contribution to the point where Kaiser Base employee + 1 was 100% district paid, and then raise the district contribution to all other plans by the same amount.
Finally, the yellow bars show the remaining costs each year that were passed on to employees. Because the district will be returning to contractual contribution levels only in 2019-2020, there will be significant increases passed on to employees in employee + 1 and family plans. (All employee-only plans remain at or near 100% district-paid coverage for 2019-2020.)