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Health care coverage trips up talks between county, police union

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The Fraternal Order of Police/Ohio Labor Council has rejected a fact-finder’s report during contract negotiations with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.

According to fact-finder Harry Graham, the two main issues between the FOP-OLC and the county are health care coverage and wages.

One of the sticking points under health care is the same point that has caused the employees of the Lorain County Job and Family Services to strike. Those employees, represented by the United Auto Workers Local 2192, have been striking since last week.

Lorain County sheriff’s Capt. Jack Hammond, who works with the union bargaining committee, did not return calls for comment. The FOP-OLC union represents road patrol sergeants and lieutenants in the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.

Both the police union and workers take issue with a proposed surcharge for spousal health care coverage.

The county wants a contract in which if an employee’s spouse has insurance available through his or her employer, the spouse would be required to be on his or her employer’s plan while county employees and children could stay on the county plan.

Graham wrote that the FOP-OLC union called the county’s proposal “unconscionable.”

The union presented a situation where the spouse of an employee works at Walmart where “the cost is high and the benefits are low” for health coverage.

“It is unconscionable to require people in this situation to opt-out of the county-provided health insurance,” Graham wrote in summarizing the union’s point of view.

The union said it would acquiesce to the spousal carve out with the caveat that if the spouse doesn’t have access to employer insurance or makes less than $25,000, the spouse could stay on the county plan.

Graham did note that “some sort of spousal restrictions” are becoming commonplace in workforces.

The union also asked for the formation of a Health Care Committee where members of the union and representatives from the county administration would study the issue of health care and make recommendations to commissioners.

The union also asked for an ability to waive health coverage for a payment of $125 per month and asked for the union’s premium to stay 10 percent. The county wants to raise the premium to 12 percent.

On wages, the union asked for a 3 percent wage increase for each year of the contract, retroactive to April 1.

The county is proposing three wage increases over the contract of 2.3 percent, 1.7 percent and 2 percent.

“There can be no assertion that bargaining unit members are undercompensated,” Graham wrote, summarizing the county’s position on wages.

Graham recommended the county’s wage increases and that the increases should be retroactive to April 1.

Contact Jodi Weinberger at 329-7245 or jweinberger@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Jodi_Weinberger.



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