Retired teachers voice concerns over insuranceA group of retired Red Wing School District teachers addressed the Red Wing School Board Monday evening over changes to health insurance benefits which would raise deductibles from $350 to $3,000.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
A group of retired Red Wing School District teachers addressed the Red Wing School Board Monday evening over changes to health insurance benefits which would raise deductibles from $350 to $3,000.
“My bone of contention is you’re dealing with things from the past,” retired teacher Tom Brase said of the change.
“I just don’t think that it’s ethical or moral to change things, he said. My retirement was based on those intentions. Now all of a sudden there has been a hiccup.”
While not on the agenda, the retirees used the meeting’s public comment period to voice their concerns. Former teachers Doris Gruber and Mark Cooper also spoke.
According to Tammy Mikkelson, who is a current teacher at Red Wing High School and a member of the Labor Management Committee, the change affects people who retired between 2005 and 2007. She said those retirees had wording in their contracts stating they would receive a single health insurance plan for 96 months after retiring.
The contract didn’t specify the deductible amount, Mikkelson said. However, the only health insurance plan available at the time was a $350 deductible plan.
“There were no other policies,” she said. “It inferred that they would get that.”
For teachers who retired after 2007, their contracts specifically state that they will receive a single health insurance plan with a $350 deductible for 96 months.
Mikkelson said the deductible increase wouldn’t affect those retirees.
“Our contract language separates our retirees into multiple groups based on when they retired,” Board Chairman Mitch Boldt said in an interview with the R-E Tuesday, explaining why the changes only affect some retirees.
Boldt added that he thought the health insurance changes — which were made during recent contract negotiations — were understood.
“I believe we negotiated in very good faith, and we’re looking for a common way for both the bargaining group and the district to come to terms on our escalating insurance costs,” he said. “As it turns out, that message has not been received equally by everyone.
“I can’t emphasize how much care was taken to make subtle changes that we already see make better results in insurance costs,” Boldt continued. “We thought we had crafted a truly win-win position.”
Boldt further explained that it’s not clear whether the teacher union’s bargaining groups are able to bargain on the retirees’ contracts.
“It is now our retired personnel’s opinion that we do not have the capacity to bargain that paragraph (related to retiree health insurance),” he said.
The next step, Boldt said, is to sit down again with both sides to negotiate and come to a decision.
“It will be made right, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “Whether that leaves people with different obligations, we don’t know. It will definitely be resolved.”
Boldt said board members hope to revisit the issue Dec. 11, when they meet for the annual legislative luncheon. He said the health insurance topic could be discussed following the meeting with local legislators.