Union presents a plan to restore retiree and workers’ healthcare benefits

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Labor unions representing Memphis city workers now say they're willing to increase insurance deductibles in order to restore health care coverage for their spouses and retirees, and to avoid a 24 percent increase in their premiums.

The unions hope the plan presented Tuesday will give the city the savings it needs to help the underfunded pension.

Mayor A C Wharton's staff is promising to run the numbers to see if the savings add up to the $25 million the union claims.

In the meantime, the mayor's administration is moving forward with its plan to make sure every retiree and worker gets adequate health care coverage.

Tuesday, these numbers were released:

- 1,500 retirees are 65 and older are on Medicare
- 1,100 retirees are 65 and older are on the city's medical plan
- 940 retirees under age 65 are employed and will switch to their current employer's insurance
- 270 retirees are under age 65 who are not employed or employment cannot currently be verified and will have to get healthcare exchange coverage
- 177 line of duty disability retirees will stay on the city's medical plan
- 13 spouses/eligible dependents of workers killed in the line of duty will stay on the city's medical plan

For those who cannot get federal subsidies, the city is setting up an initial $2 million trust to help them pay for their medical costs.

The city says it will "contract with a third party to custodian the funds" and "will solicit additional contributions to the fund from community partners like hospitals, corporations, health care insurers, etc."

The city is also opening up a health care clinic for workers and retirees that will offer free check-ups and prescription medications. It will be located at Union and McLean.

Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams and City Councilwoman Wanda Halbert want to know why they're just now hearing the details.

"Now, we are coming back and presenting all of the details. It would have been good to have this initially, so the members of the [Healthcare Oversight] committee could have proposed alternatives up front," said Williams.

Labor Union leaders also came up with their own plan and presented it to the committee Tuesday.

The plan includes three options, including a high-deductible plan, for retirees and workers to choose from depending how much they want to pay.

Union leaders said it will save the city an estimated $25 million and restore all retiree and worker benefits cut to pay for the unfunded pension.

The committee approved the plan, sending it to the city's Personnel Committee. If the personnel committee approves it, it will go to the council.

If approved, it will trump the city's current plan.

The city is holding a series of meetings to explain the healthcare changes in more detail to workers and retirees.


  • We need new crooks

    Question: Why are 1500 65 and older retirees on Medicare and 1100 65 and older retirees are on the city’s medical plan? Shouldn’t those 1100 be switched over to Medicare also which would be a huge savings? Devil is always in the details. Many private companies promised their retirees full medical benefits after retiring. Those same companies then told the retirees they had to go on Medicare and the company would make up the co-pay. Today those same companies are saying they will no longer make the co-pay but will send the retiree an annual check of $3000 to pay for GAP coverage. In a few years they will say, you are own your own. Our ELECTED officials and PRIVATE BANK called the Federal Reserve are solely and directly responsible for the shape this nation is in. No one to blame but ourselves for electing the same crooks over and over. It IS ELECTION TIME and maybe we should try some new crooks.

    • Wife

      The city did not pay into Medicare for those 1100 retired employees therefore they do not qualify for Medicare. The city still does not pay into Social Security for their employees. They will not qualify for social security benefits when they retire. The pension is all they get. They are leaving those 1100 retirees with literally nothing with their current plan! These are the facts that are being left out.

      • What a mess

        How did the 1500 65 and older retirees get on Medicare? Do some employees get Social Security and Medicare and other employees do not?

  • Get Informed

    I was talking to a Memphis police officer the other day. He feels the public has deserted him. He does feel that the city has spent far too much on PILOTS , by the way so does the state comptroller, but “suprise” that is never in the paper or the news. The sales tax is needed along with a 2 cent hotel tax like St. Louis , and Southaven and Hernando.are doing. But i fear some of the public will also say no to any tax for any reason, even if it is to their benefit. Memphis should be tired of working out of a hole all the time. I say enact these taxes. That fixes the immediate problem. That gets police and firemen what they are owed and can be used to help repair these roads. Then we concentrate on getting people in office who can manage money effectively and not waste it on pet projects at the expense of taxpayer safety. The officer I spoke with said he feels only the rich are benefiting under the current conditions. The average taxpayer is getting nothing. Is he right?

  • Paul Fischer

    The one thing this article never mentioned is who did the public employee unions support and campaign for over the last 40 years? Now with the taxpayers leaving, and now they are complaining about having their benefits cut. Its time for these city employees to live like the rest of us, and to get the same kinds of benefits that non-gov’t businesses provide, 401K in some cases and most likely no benefits for the most part.

    • Get Informed

      maybe people should not be “rooting” for the city employees to get less pay and benefits, maybe they should be pressing their jobs to get better pay and benefits. The private sector does pay much more as a rule, but the benefits could be better in many cases. This America is turning it’s back on family and turning the focus on work. The less any one job pays in benefits or pay opens the door for other jobs to do the same until there is no middle class. So when you “cheer” for the city breaking it’s agreements and contracts, keep in mind one might be cheering for their own benefits to be lowered. If you fight people on a moments notice, run into burning buildings, save peoples lives on a regular basis, maybe they should get something more than a clerk?

  • James

    What usually happens when most people do not do their jobs? They usually get fired. This should be the fate of all of the present and past administrations who did not find ways to deal with the pension problems.

  • Where is the truth?

    Cant get answers from the government, we cant get answers from the media, and we cant even get answers from each other in these comments. There is a post listed above asking why the 1100 people are on the city healthcare instead of Medicare. Very quickly commenters state that those 1100 are not elgible for Medicare. Someone then asked how did the 1500 get on Medicare?
    Now we just get crickets. Nothing!! It has become obvious to this citizen that everyone has their agenda and bias about this issue. The media, the employees, the politicians, and even the commenters on these articles slant their view to suit their needs, and the whole truth, instead of half-truths, cannot be found anywhere.

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