Friday, May 21, 2004

NEWS - New Site, CURRENT EVENTS - The Lesser Evil?

So here I am. I got tired of the constraints placed on me by AOL Journals, and I still can't force myself to go the way of the livejournal.

So let's get things started. Wired magazine reports that SBC workers have gone on strike. The Communication Workers of America finally walked out today at 12:01AM. Apparently, the latest proposal just wasn't good enough:

Wages and pensions

Our wage proposal provides for wage increases.

Specifically, our proposal calls for the following wage adjustments:

    1st year: 4 percent lump sum. For Technicians, that's an average of $2,328. For Operators, it comes to an average of $1,581

    2nd year: 2.5 percent base wage increase

    3rd year: 2.5 percent wage increase

    4th year: 2.25 percent wage increase with a cost of living adjustment

    5th year: 2.25 percent wage increase with a cost of living adjustment

The proposal also includes pension band increases in similar ranges and addresses some particular concerns unique to our SBC East region.

Health care

As you know, health care is our single fastest rising cost — an expense that rose to nearly $3 billion in 2003 for the 700,000 employees, retirees and dependents covered under SBC health care plans.

Our health care proposal provides continued coverage under SBC's excellent health care plans with no monthly contribution required and copays of only about 10 percent of the total cost of health care, far less than what most Americans and all SBC managers pay, and a small increase over the 4 to 7 percent of the total cost that CWA-represented employees currently pay.

The impact of the proposed copay increases would average only about $35 per month.

Some of the specific elements of the proposal include:

  • Office visit copays at $15 in 2005 and 2006; $25 in 2007 and 2008; and $30 in 2009.
  • Emergency room copay at $50 in 2005 through 2007, and $75 in 2008 and 2009
  • A three-tier drug plan starting in 2005 at $10 for generic drugs, $20 for formulary drugs and $40 for nonformulary brands for prescriptions filled at network retail. Mail order copays for the same years and classes of drugs are $20, $40 and $80, respectively; mail orders provide triple the supply of medication at only twice the copay. Maximum increases have been set for each of the subsequent years of the contract.
  • Note: Copays which are already higher by contract will not be reduced.

With the modest cost sharing of less than 10 percent and no monthly contribution, this compares very favorably with national averages. On average, most Americans with health insurance pay about 38 percent of the cost of their health care and 90 percent of those with company-provided health care are required to pay a monthly contribution.

Employment security

The union requested, and we agreed, to return the issue of job offer guarantees to the regional bargaining tables. At the regional tables, we will remain committed to the proposal we had presented at the national table of a guaranteed job offer in the state in which an employee works if the employee's job is surplused. Essentially, this means no layoffs for three years.

Our national proposal still contains strong elements enhancing job security.

For example, we propose utilizing union-represented employees for future new technology work such as Fiber to the Premises, WiFi, Video, DataComm and DSL Technical Support, as long as the labor agreements for this work are competitive on wages, benefits and overall costs with those of outside contractors.

We also propose a mechanism that would allow qualified surplused employees to move to wholly owned subsidiaries before those subsidiaries hire from outside.

Sounds pretty damn good to me. Quite frankly, it's a hell of a lot better than the package I'm getting from my employer, Lexis-Nexis, and I went through four years of college and three years of law school to get where I'm at. This just blows my mind. I wish the terms of my employment were this good. It just makes me wonder whether collective bargaining has crossed the line.

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