Last Best Offers - October 22, 2021

The Employer Commissioners presented their last best offer (LBO) position concerning a single issue in dispute for the 2023-25 agreement regarding healthcare benefits for Vermont public school employees.

To start, the full Commission agreed to accept Fact-finder John Cochran’s report and recommendations with respect to the issues of premium share, grievance procedure, cash-in- lieu payments, and eligibility standards. Consequently, the only issue in dispute put forward in this LBO is the amount of the employer first-dollar contribution toward out-of-pocket (OOP) funding support in either an employee’s health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or health savings account (HSA).

 

The Commission was pleased to see that the Fact-finder agreed with the need for re-balancing employer/employee premium and OOP share along with the need for a statewide grievance procedure. Though his recommendations did not achieve the balance the Employer Commission was seeking, they did provide directional relief to school districts and taxpayers, setting the stage for standardized premium shares consistent with state comparables and a move toward more reasonable contributions by employees to OOP expenses over the course of the three-year agreement. The Fact-finder disagreed with the notion of salary bands as proposed by VT-NEA.

 

PREMIUM SHARE

“School Employees” who are Licensed Professional Employees or Supervisors as defined by Act 7 of 2021, will continue to make a 20% contribution toward premium associated with the Gold CDHP or Silver CDHP plans offered by VEHI for the duration of the agreement.

 

All other “School Employees” as defined by Act 7 of 2021, will make an additional 1% per year premium contribution share associated with the Gold CDHP or Silver CDHP plans, not to exceed 20%.

OUT-OF-POCKET FUNDING

The Employer Commissioners presented the following OOP payment structure for the Arbitration panel's consideration:

  • For “School Employees” who are Licensed Professional Employees or Supervisors as defined by Act 7 of 2021, the employer will make a first-dollar contribution to an employee’s HRA of $1900/$3800 for the first year of the agreement (as recommended by Fact-finder Cochran), a $1800/$3600 contribution for the second year, and a $1700/$3400 contribution for the third year.
     

  • For all other “School Employees” as defined by Act 7 of 2021, the employer will make a first- dollar contribution to an employee’s HRA of $2200/$4400 for the first two years of the agreement (as recommended by Fact-finder Cochran), and a $2100/$4200 contribution for the third year.
     

  • For all “School Employees” who elect an HSA in connection with either the Gold CDHP or Silver CDHP plan, the employer shall contribute $1300/$2600 each year under the three-year agreement.

 

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

 

With regard to a Grievance process, Fact-finder Cochran stated:

“I recommend the parties adopt a statewide grievance procedure along the following lines:

 

Either a local public school district or a union representing public school employees may file a grievance with the Commission concerning the interpretation or application”

 

The Employer Commission added clarifying language to its LBO which provides a three-step process to resolve grievances which includes the Co-Chairs of the statewide commission, the full commission, and finally, if necessary, an Arbitrator.

 

VT-NEA and ASFCME LBO

The VT-NEA and ASFCME dropped all of their previous positions and presented the Fact- finder’s recommendations as their LBO. Employer share of first dollar OOP funding toward an HRA would be at $1900/$4,000 for Licensed employees and at $2,200/$4,400 for support staff over the three-year term of the Agreement. The Fact-finder did not address HSA funding in his recommendations, but the unions have proposed comparable dollar amounts toward the funding of an HSA toward the Silver CDHP plan only.

Arbitration is scheduled for the week of November 1, 2021.

Employer Last Best Offer

VT NEA Last Best Offer