This is a Damned Good Contract
2011 State Contract Tenative Agreement- FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
Re: 2011 State Contract Tentative Agreement
Will there be any rolling furloughs?
No, the contract negotiating team was able to get the commonwealth to back off of any rolling furlough language.
Are there any changes to Alternative Work Schedules?
The Commonwealth will investigate and clarify if necessary the issues surrounding the COP’s failure to respond to AWS requests, the parties will meet to develop boilerplate language and to come to an understanding as to the cost-savings criteria necessary for schedules to be approved.
Are there any changes to vacation leave?
Yes. The commonwealth wanted to cap ALL employees’ vacation leave earning at 20 days per year, however the team was able to fight off this change. The agreed-to language in the tentative agreement will cap vacation leave earning at 20 days per year for employees hired after June 30, 2011 only.
Has the number of personal days been changed in this contract?
The proposed contract language will maintain the current number of personal days. However, if you go an entire year without taking a sick day, you will earn an additional personal day.
Did the amount of sick leave change in this contract?
Yes. The amount of earned sick leave will change from 13 days to 11 days per year. However, if you do not use any sick days within a year you will receive an additional personal day. The sick leave buyout at retirement remains the same.
When will the change in sick days take affect?
The sick day changes will take effect January 1, 2012.
Are there any changes in health care contributions?
Yes. During the first three years of the contract the contribution will remain at the status quo. In the fourth year the contribution will slightly increase. See below for the contribution rates.
Employee Contribution with Get Healthy Program
What is the health care contribution rate for retirees?
The contribution rate for retirees will be the same as for active employees, except that it will reduce to 1.5% when the retiree is Medicare eligible.
Are there any changes to the calculation of health care contributions for retirees?
Yes, instead of the contribution being based on your career ending salary, the contribution will now be calculated from your average salary in your last three years of employment.
Will employees receive any wage/step increases in the new contract?
Yes, employees will receive a total of 10.75% wage increase. The increases will be as follows:
- July 2011: No General Pay Increase (GPI)
- January 2012: No Step Increase
- July 2012: 1% GPI
- April 2013: Step Increase
- July 2013: 0.5% GPI
- January 2014: 0.5% GPI
- April 2014: Step Increase
- July 2014: 2% GPI
- January 2015: Step Increase
Will employees have to pay increased co-pays at the Emergency Room? If so, when does this take affect?
Yes, the proposed contract language includes increased emergency room co-payments from $50 to $100 that would go into effect on July 1, 2012. This change will require a vote from the PEBTF in order to take effect. The PEBTF trustees will decide when to take this issue up.
Can retirees participate in the Get Healthy Program?
No, currently there is no Get Healthy Program for retirees. Most retirees fall under the Disease Management program and can participate in it, but there is no waiver. The PEBTF decides the coverage of benefits dependent on the financial health of the fund. The union will continue to pursue the issue with the PEBTF.
Where can I get more information about my retirement questions?
SERS staff will be trained on the new contract language and would be happy to assist you.
How does the tentative contract affect Triple III’s (Interment Intake Interviewers)?
The tentative agreement language has eliminated the concept of super Triple III’s, which would mean that Triple III’s who attain Super III status will now automatically become permanent UC interviewers. In addition, the commonwealth has agreed to meet with SEIU 668 to discuss the creation of more permanent interviewer positions.
What is a side letter?
A side letter is a written agreement between the employer and the union that has the force and effect of contract language, but does not appear in the contract book. Side letters were obtained to further discuss and to add contract language within a defined period of time for Portal to Portal, Alternative Work Schedules and Statewide Seniority Units.
Are Energy Assistant Workers directly affected in this contract?
The tentative agreement language will maintain status quo for Energy Assistance Worker’s reimbursement for out of pocket healthcare costs.
If I retire before July 1, 2011 will I be able to lock in my Retired Employee Health Plan (REHP) benefits?
The commonwealth contends that it reserves the right to change any aspect of the REHP for employees who have already retired. In the past, the commonwealth has made changes to REHP benefits for those who retired after a labor agreement went into effect. They reserve the right to make changes for all retirees at any time. The process of evaluating and re-evaluating the plan offerings is ongoing every year. There are various proposed changes on the table that could affect the level of benefits and/or the cost-sharing terms. All participants and employees will be advised as soon as a change, if any, is being considered for implementation.
Does the new contract reinstate seniority for those using parental [maternity] leave?
Yes, the contract provides that employees who lost seniority due to parteneral leave utlizlied prior to July 1, 1993, will be entitled to reinstatement of seniority upon presentation of documentation. Due to the complexity of the implementation, this will go into effect in 2012.
Will the commonwealth be paying back the money they owe to the PEBTF?
No. However, the commonwealth agreed at the table to maintain a three month reserve in the fund. If the reserve level falls below the three month level, as determined by the actuary, the commonwealth must pay in the amount needed to maintain the three month reserve. Any dispute will be resolved by a neutral actuary. If the fund has more than a three month reserve, this amount will remain in the fund.
Is there a third option on a contract vote?
No. Members must vote yes to accept the contract proposal or vote no, which means the Union would go out on strike. In the past members have asked if there was a third option to voting on the contract, which they assume would mean they would reject the offer and continue to negotiate. This is not the case.
There is no such thing as a “third option”. It is the job of the negotiating team to attempt to get the best possible contract at the negotiating table. To reject the contract offer, but not authorize a strike, does not send a message of strength to the employer. In fact, it demonstrates to the employer that the members are not committed enough to the union’s demands to fight for them. There is, therefore, no incentive for the employer to modify its demands after such a vote.
The negotiating team understands that it has a major responsibility in not putting a contract offer out to a vote without making every effort to get the best final offer from the employer. At that point, whether it is before June 30th or after July 1st, the negotiating team puts a real contract offer in front of the membership. It is the best contract offer that can be obtained from the employer, short of a strike. The members must make that ultimate decision on the employer’s last and best offer; is it acceptable, or is it so unacceptable that you are willing to strike?