As most of our active members have been accustomed to, my October Star & Shield messages have usually been data-driven information taken from the Board of Supervisors’ annual September adoption document regarding the new Choices medical and dental premiums as well as life insurance rates for the next year.
This year, however, the Coalition of County Unions (CCU), which includes PPOA and 13 other member organizations, didn’t reach a tentative agreement on a new Fringe Benefits contract with the County until September 1. One of the important components that was negotiated was a 2.5% increase in the County’s contribution to the Choices health plans that will help offset health insurance premium increases.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to put the recommended approval item for the new Fringe Benefits contract on its October 5 meeting agenda and soon thereafter adopt the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Fringe Benefits for bargaining units represented by the CCU.
The delays in the data confirmation and approval/adoption processes will in no way impact the 2022 annual benefits enrollment that will occur during October 2021. Also, the County’s 2.5% financial contribution increase to the Choices health plans will be effective January 1, 2022.
By now, all active PPOA members should have received the open enrollment book for the Choices health benefit plans. You have the entire month of October to make any changes to your current insurance coverages. If you choose not to make insurance changes during open enrollment, your current coverages will roll over into 2022. So, if you don’t want to change anything, no action is needed. But if you do want to make changes, you must do so by October 31.
If you have not received your Choices packet, log on to mylacountybenefits.com and go to “Additional Resources” to download the materials. If you are ready to enroll, make changes or review your coverage choices, you can do it all from your computer, tablet or smartphone. Just log on to mylacountybenefits.com and take control from there. If you have unanswered questions, call the Benefits Hotline at (213) 388-9982, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (extended hours during annual benefits enrollment, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, October 30, and Sunday, October 31, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
As you may recall, PPOA joined the CCU in the summer of 2019 and is the second-largest union in the 14-member organization. The CCU operates as a committee of the Department of Public Employee Unions, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. The CCU negotiates a common Fringe Benefits contract that binds the County of Los Angeles to provide medical and dental insurance, pension, Horizons deferred compensation plan, paid leaves and other benefits to County employees represented by the 14 unions affiliated with the CCU. Each of the 14 unions has a maximum of three representatives at the CCU Fringe Benefits bargaining table. Your PPOA representatives on the CCU negotiations team were President Tab Rhodes, Secretary Tony Coleman and your executive director.
As previously mentioned, the Fringe Benefits contract that expired on June 30 was negotiated between the CCU and the County with a tentative agreement being reached on September 1. This nine-month contract will expire on March 31, 2022. The highlights include:
- A $1,000 one-time bonus for full-time County employees who worked during the pandemic.
- An additional one-time $500 bonus for members employed before July 1, 2021, who are at “elevated” risk for COVID-19 exposure. “Elevated” risk is defined as job duties requiring you to be within 6 feet or less of co-workers, patients, County clients or the general public for periods of 15 minutes or greater. To receive this bonus, employees will have to submit an electronic attestation confirming the “elevated” risk for exposure.
- A new County-paid holiday, Juneteenth, will go into effect on June 19, 2022.
- The County’s increased financial contribution of 2.5% to the Choices plan.
Most importantly, the CCU negotiated quite effectively to ensure that there were no benefit takeaways or contract language amendments by the County.
The CCU is hopeful that the $1,500 bonus (that nearly all PPOA members should receive) will arrive before the end of 2021. PPOA is grateful to our CCU partners for their collaborative efforts to secure a fair and equitable Fringe Benefits contract. PPOA is also thankful to the Board of Supervisors for acknowledging the many sacrifices and heroic work ethic of our amazing membership during the pandemic.