My town has been trying to negotiate the GIC for the past two years. At one time every union but one had signed on to the idea, but that was not good enough under the law.
The result of this stalemate is that we have sent about $4 million each of those years to healthcare companies instead of pay increases and jobs for employees.
Instead there have been no raises, and a bunch of teachers and DPU workers have lost their jobs.
The Town Manager just took the unusual step of laying off more employees midyear, and the town faces more of the same in the fiscal year that begins in July.
Note, please, that the GIC provides excellent care. In many cases it is the same care town employees already get. Note also that $4 million is just the savings from the GIC, which the Town proposed to divvy up pretty equitably with employees.
Okay, I won’t hide the fact that I think the unions in my town screwed up this one. Purely from the point of view of doing good for their members. I’d say that they encouraged their members to vastly overvalue the risks inherent in the change, while undervaluing the benefits.
But it’s complicated, and I’m not writing this post to point fingers or come to a particular conclusions about the GIC in your town.
Rather, here’s my point. You know of the growing inequality of income, and how wealth and earning power has been gradually extracted from most Americans even as the economy booms for the elite.
Well, this is how it is done. My town sends $4 million per year to health-care companies that it could have spent on jobs and wags and benefits. The money and the jobs are gone, and this year (probably) we will be asked to raise our taxes to fund the shortfall.
However the override vote goes, we will be poorer. We will chose between understaffed schools and fire departments and generally poorer services that will affect the quality of our lives in hundreds of ways–or a tax increase.
Meanwhile the health-care industry is $4 million richer per year, just from our town. Multiply that across the state.
The boards of quasi-nonprofits like Blue Cross can obscenely compensate themselves and their leadership; for-profits give the surplus to shareholders.
From our pockets to theirs.