July 6, 2016 E-MAIL PRINT

Dow Jones Bargaining Update

Healthcare And Wages: The Missing Link

Yesterday's bargaining session with Dow Jones representatives was, in a word, disappointing.


During discussion of the Company's 2017 medical premium proposal, your IAPE committee suggested that, in order to have a realistic discussion about the ever-increasing employee share of medical costs, it would be helpful to have a proposal from the Company on wage increases.

And they said no.

"We're not inclined to link the issues," we were told.

Imagine that — no link between healthcare and wages. Even though Dow Jones medical premiums are assessed as a percentage of salary, and even though the Company has had the contractual ability since 2012 to boost premiums each year by an amount equal to half the previous year's negotiated raise.

The Company kicked off yesterday's meeting with a proposal for 2017 U.S. healthcare premiums, one that would see "modest" increases to premiums for dependent coverage and a new premium structure for the previously-proposed, low-cost CDHP option.

("Modest" is a relative term — especially when you consider employee premiums have nearly doubled since 2012.)

Management also presented a proposal on "Selected Issues" covering items already under discussion, including sick leave, seniority, mandatory arbitration and repayment of education assistance.

Dow Jones negotiators told the Union they had not even looked at healthcare years beyond 2017, but indicated they need "flexibility" for further cost shifting and to "administer these plans as we see fit."

It is clear Dow Jones has no good reason for demanding premium increases, except to say that they can. Costs are not increasing dramatically, but the desire to increase employee-share of premiums is part of the Company's goal to "bring plans to market rates." IAPE reps gave DJ three opportunities to provide any other reason for passing costs on to employees. Nope. Just the goal of having employees pay (the bottom end of) the industry standard.

"We believe it is appropriate for employees to pay more," they said.

But link healthcare to wages? No way.

Can we move management away from this position? Yes, with your support. Watch this space for more information on that in the coming days. We return to the bargaining table next Tuesday, July 12th.

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