On July 1st, due to changes imposed by Governor Christie and the New Jersey State Legislature in 2011, most public employees participating in the New Jersey State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) will have to pay a higher rate towards the cost of their health insurance premium.
The percentage rates are based on salary tiers and level of health insurance coverage and have been phased in over the past four years.
More information about the State Health Benefits Program can be found on the NJ Department of Treasury Division of Pension and Benefits website.
Employees hired after June 28, 2011 are already paying the maximum rate and will not see an increase unless moved to a higher salary tier. Members of HPAE Local 5135 will not see an increase until October 2014.
For most HPAE members, our last negotiated increase was on January 1, 2014. Our union contract expires on September 30, 2014 and our negotiating committees have been meeting and preparing contract proposals. We are striving for a more timely contract settlement than in years past and we are scheduling dates to meet with management as soon as possible.
It is always our goal to win the best salary and wages that reflect our professional experience, hard work and dedication as well as to offset the increased costs of living and SHBP premiums.
The changes to our health insurance imposed by the Governor were just part of a nationwide corporate attack–from state legislatures to the supreme court–on public employees and their unions, evidenced yesterday by Christie’s line item veto of the state budget and failure to make legally required pension payments as well as by the Supreme Court’s Harris v Quinn decision.
Along with the entire labor movement, we have been fighting against these efforts to take away our rights. In addition to our contract negotiations, we have to move beyond the bargaining table to build more political power for workers.
As our negotiations progress, and with another election this fall, we will be calling on members to get involved, participate in union activities and mobilize to protect our patients, protect our rights and win fair contracts for HPAE public employees.