|Sick system invades city|
|Written by Joe Awad|
|Tuesday, July 17, 2012 8:36 PM|
My Mom often told me all eyes do not see the same, and all ears do not hear alike. Her wisdom is no more true than when applied to “talks” about salaries, benefits, and those things that determine people’s standard of living.
Harrison city leaders and the 77 employees covered by the city’s health insurance have run headlong into one of the economic monsters of our times, devouring the excellent standard of living long enjoyed by America’s hard-working middle class.
Compromise is not easy
Compromise: the word makes my skin crawl. Face it, most of us are not natural compromisers. It is instinctive to fight for what we believe in, and primordial to claw for what we want.
The most recent meeting between representatives of Harrison’s three unions and city leaders over health insurance revealed that both sides accept the reality of individual Health Savings Accounts, but are far apart on how much the city should contribute.
Without getting into the numbers again (see Wednesday, July 4 edition), let’s say the gap between employees and city officials is as wide as a boulevard, but not a road to nowhere.
For the Wednesday, July 4, story I interviewed about nine people. I did not include all of them in the piece, but most seemed optimistic that the latest talks in June were more amiable and productive than previous talks.
The plan will go into effect at the beginning of the year to match the calendar year with the insurance-coverage year.
It may not, however, end there. Many union employees believe Harrison owes them one.
The unions agreed to freeze wages for three years to help the city meet its needs. The word “reciprocate” was used by one union rep.
A unionized employee said that full-blown collective bargaining talks could get nasty in the next go-around.
On the other hand, city leaders firmly believe they have provided excellent insurance to unionized employees, there is no way the city can meet the union’s present requests, and that the city’s contribution offer to HSAs is fair and reasonable.
As I see it, the key player is not the mayor nor any councilperson.
City attorney William Deters is the key player. Deters won’t talk to the press, but he is working diligently with an open mind and heart to solve the issues, said one city leader.
I have noticed some stress on the young man’s face that I have not seen before.
It will be quite the balancing act if he can bring the employees and city leaders to a genuine and satisfying compromise.
We shall see, what we shall see, one way or the other.
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|Last Updated on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 8:46 PM|