The Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education and the membership of the Teachers Association of Long Beach have formally OK’d an agreement reached after more than 20 months of bargaining.
The school board unanimously approved the agreement after more than 92 percent of TALB’s K-12 members voted in favor of ratifying the deal, with 1,597 of those members voting yes while 134 voted no. Nearly 90 percent of TALB’s Child Development Center and Head Start bargaining unit members also approved the agreement, with 86 yes votes and 10 no votes.
The agreement saves about $1.5 million in 2013 through health plan adjustments, including changes to pharmacy plans. Some plans will see increased co-pays for doctor’s office and/or emergency room visits.
TALB and the school district have agreed on how to handle escalating health care costs in future years. The parties agreed that the school district’s maximum contributions for medical premiums would be set at 100 percent of the 2013 Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) rates for employee, employee plus one, and family. The school district maximum contribution will then increase by 3.5 percent on January 1, 2014, and will then automatically increase by 3.5 percent every year thereafter.
Starting on Jan. 1, 2014, if health plan costs increase more than 3.5 percent, the employee will pay the difference. In the event that the increase is less than 3.5 percent, the difference is then credited to mitigate increases in future years.
A joint Health Benefits Committee will work to mitigate any cost increases for employees and the school district by considering plan design changes, provider selection, and wellness programs, and by educating employees.
The two parties also agreed to a plan to prevent the closure of LBUSD’s Head Start early childhood program. This school year, Head Start will reduce teachers’ work year by five days, from 193 to 188. The following school year will be reduced by six more days, from 188 to 182.