On January 7th Zach Knipe, UE International Representative, Bill Ladd, UE 228 President, and Shane Tassinari, UE 228 Chief Steward, took part in a conference call with staff from the offices of our Congressional Delegates, Christian Seaholtz from Congressman Pappas’ office, Madison Lightfoot from Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office, and Corey Garry from Senator Maggie Hassan’s office.
The main topic of discussion concerned waiving insurance. During UE 728 negotiations Zach presented a letter from an IRS district office in answer to this question. The question of waiving insurance under the ACA (Affordable Care Act/ Obamacare) and SCA (Service Contract Act) had been asked by another facility some time ago, and the IRS reply stated that Group Coverage is not required by the ACA , and that an employer can discharge their insurance obligations under the ACA and SCA by paying out the “employer portion” of the insurance costs. In other words LDRM could comply with both the ACA and SCA by cashing out 100% of our Health & Welfare (H&W) funds. LDRM’s lead negotiator, Steve Friedle, was dubious about the letter’s claim
As a result of this conversation at 728’s negotiations LDRM agreed to draft a joint letter with UE to ascertain whether:
- Group coverage is a requirement for the ACA
- If the company can meet its obligations under law by paying employees 100% their H&W funds
While this is great, we know that with everything going on in the world currently that it is unlikely we would have received a response prior to open enrollment, which would likely mean that many of us would be forced to take insurance that we didn’t need or want again.
This was the heart of what we discussed with the delegation. We have asked for their help in hopes of speeding up the reply from Department of Labor (DOL), and the IRS (LDRM wanted confirmation from both). Zach reported that he had heard from a DOL representative that it was not a DOL matter, it is strictly an IRS matter. So we are now waiting for a response that will hopefully be identical to the original letter that Zach presented the company during UE 728 negotiations.
The staff members did ask for testimonials concerning the hardship of being forced to take insurance that is too expensive, and unneeded when you already have other coverage, how the coverage itself makes matters worse (expensive premiums plus large bills), or how you had to drop better coverage because you couldn’t afford to keep your plan due to costs are some ideas of what they may be interested in.