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Senate targets health coverage for part-timers

senate-secret-meetingOLYMPIA (April 24, 2013) — State Senate Bill 5905, introduced on April 10 by Sens. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) and Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam), would essentially eliminate state health coverage for part-time state employees and force them into the Washington Health Benefits Exchange being developed under the federal Affordable Care Act.  SB 5905, which is strongly opposed by organized labor, passed the Republican-controlled Senate on Monday by a 25-23 vote.

Among the many dubious assumptions in the Senate budget proposal is a presumed $90 million in savings from dropping health coverage for part-timers. If SB 5905 passes and such savings occur, that would be $90 million taken out of the pockets of state employees.

The Washington Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28, noted that Sens. Pam Roach (R-Auburn) and Brian Hatfield (D-Raymond) led the principled bipartisan opposition to SB 5905. But the bill squeaked through Monday after conservative Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) joined sponsor Hargrove in voting “yes” alongside the GOP+2 Caucus.

TAKE A STAND!  AFT Washington represents faculty at community and technical colleges, some 70% of whom are part-timers. The union is urging everyone to click here to contact your legislators and tell them that the Senate proposal is unfair and immoral to part-time faculty and state employees.

“Instead of moving us toward the goal of actual universal coverage, the Senate has proposed legislation that does exactly the opposite,” said AFT Seattle 1789 President Karen Strickland. “The effect on part-time faculty should SB 5905 pass would be devastating.”

AFT Washington explains that SB 5905 would:

  • Eliminate dental and vision coverage since the federal program doesn’t require coverage for these benefits.
  • Raise premiums for many, if not all, employees. Depending upon income, monthly premiums for coverage could triple.
  • Charge employees more out-of-pocket expenses for deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance.
  • Make coverage based on hours worked, not percent of load.

Currently, the state’s Health Care Authority gives full health coverage to college faculty working at least 50% (0.5 FTE) of a full-time load. That load is defined by union contracts and compares apples to apples. The ACA requires coverage only for those working more than 30 hours per week. A debate is under way in Washington, D.C., about whether that 30 hours includes prep time for college faculty.

If the AFT doesn’t win that fight in D.C., then almost all part-time faculty in Washington state could completely lose their health coverage under SB 5905.

TAKE A STAND!  AFT Washington urges all to click here to contact your legislators and tell them that the Senate proposal is unfair and immoral to part-time faculty and other state employees.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!