Abramson: Metro Government to Extend Two Plans to Police Officers
Friday December 19, 2003
Mayor Jerry Abramson today announced that he will abide by an arbitrator’s decision and continue providing police officers two premium health-care plans that cost an additional $500,000 to taxpayers.
“We are disappointed with the arbitrator’s decision, although we are appreciative that he clearly acknowledged we are doing our job ‘for the community by dramatizing the extent of the rising costs’ of health care,” Abramson said. “Fundamentally, this is an issue about fairness – fairness to taxpayers and fairness to all 6,500 Metro Government employees.”
Abramson said Metro Government will offer the two plans in question to 1,000 officers and their families until June 30, the end of the current contract with the Fraternal Order of Police.
“Our position during negotiations beginning this spring will be to bring police officers in line with the health benefits offered to all other Metro Government employees,” Abramson said, pointing to the fact that negotiations are under way right now with seven other bargaining units. Metro Government has contracts with 28 bargaining units. In each case, Abramson said, the rising cost of health care is a major issue.
Under their contract, police officers are guaranteed free health care coverage for their families. Other Metro Government employees must pay a portion of the premiums associated with family coverage.
“The cost of providing extraordinary plans to police officers has a ripple effect throughout government and the community,” Abramson said. “The cost of health care to the rest of our employees will rise even more if police officers in the future won’t work with us to help contain the costs.” Because of anticipated insurance hikes of 16 percent next year, Abramson announced last month that he was asking all Metro Government employees – including 1,200 police officers – to choose coverage from the same four plans. Officers and their families would continue to receive free health-care coverage.
The only change would be that two premium plans would no longer be offered. Those plans will cost taxpayers an additional $500,000 this year alone. The arbitrator today said those plans should not be taken away without negotiation between Metro Government and the Fraternal Order of Police.