Will County Executive Larry Walsh is taking heat on an employee health benefits package that has drawn criticism from a former county board member. Photo Credit: Will County, official photo
by Dennis Sullivan firstname.lastname@example.org Oct. 31, 2013
An Eastern Will County resident who once represented Beecher Crete, Monee, Park Forest, Sauk Village, Steger and University Park on the Will County board says the county’s union employees may have good reasons for being dissatisfied with the health benefit plan approved in September by the Will County board.
Mary Ann Gearhart Deutsche, who held the powerful County Board position of Executive Committee Chairman and served as Crete Township Supervisor before retiring from both bodies in July 2006 after moving to Monee Township, terms Will County’s offer to union employees “not so bad,” but cited an issue she sees as a problem.
The county’s highest-paid employees pay proportionally lower premiums (employee contributions) under the plan’s salary-to-premium ratio, Deutsche said in an email to Eastern Will County News.
The plan requires employees earning up to $30,000 to pay a 4.3 percent premium, employees earning $30,000-$49,999 to pay a 7.6 percent premium and employees earning $50,000 or more to pay a 13.2 percent premium.
“Why are employees making more than $75,000 not paying more of a percentage?” Deutsche asked in Wednesday’s email.
“Like drop $50,000 to 10%, and (make) the highest salary level pay 13.2 (percent). This would go a long way to reach 10% of aggregate of premium cost.
“Can you imagine the hit the lower pays will suffer compared to high-end salaries? “Fair?” she asked.”
NLRB complaint against Will County Executive Deutsche’s comments come in the wake of a complaint filed Monday with National Labor Relations Board by the union local representing some Will County’s employees.
American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Local 1028 President Dave Delrose contends County Executive Larry Walsh’s letter was an attempt to intimidate the more than 1,200 county employees who belong to collective-bargaining units.
AFSCME 1028 members earlier this month approved the possibility of a strike in response to a proposed benefits and compensation package because it doesn’t provide a cost of living increase and increases premiums.
Letter: striking employees could be replaced Walsh’s Oct. 24 communication responds to the strike threat, offering non-striking employees safe passage to work if a strike is called, and citing a range of sanctions – including termination – for employees who participate.
Walsh said striking employees would no longer be covered under the county health plan, but “may be” eligible to continue benefits under COBRA, paying the full $1,938.71 monthly premium.