Our Master Bargaining Team will have its first mediation session with the state tomorrow, Wednesday, April 17. The team has been hard at work in preparation for this next phase. President Rich Gulla and bargaining co-chair Jim Nall also met with legislators last week to provide an update on the process.
Our team has been fighting for badly needed wage increases and an additional step to aid in recruitment and retention – meanwhile, the state is pushing minimal wage increases, restricting payment for overtime worked, and looking to change to prescription medication coverage known as Step Therapy, but commonly referred to as Fail First.
As Nall explained to legislators, this Fail First practice requires the cheapest drug option be tried first, rather than providing the medicine originally prescribed by your health care provider. You’d need to fail first on the cheaper medication to show that you need the more expensive medication. More than half of all states have either banned or are restricting these Fail First practices.
Reminder: Use your Health Rewards by June 30
In the event we do not reach an agreement by the end of the contract on June 30, it’s likely the Health Rewards program will again go away (this might be a good time to note that our bargaining team also pushed to make this a permanent benefit).
We highly recommend that you retrieve your points and get your reward cards as soon as possible. If you’ve yet to take the Health Assessment Test (HAT), you should do that as well. Because these benefits take time to process, time is of the essence. You can find more information on Health Rewards and the HAT on the state’s website.