Witnesses say health care proposal by San Antonio fire union would be costly to taxpayers — and firefighters


Original Source: San Antonio Express News

Collective bargaining teams for San Antonio officials, left, and the fire union, right, meet during contract negotiations on Monday, March 18, 2019. In July, the union invoked its right to go into binding arbitration. The two parties have now spent two days in arbitration over the union’s contract.
Photo: Bob Owen /Staff file photo

A union-run health care fund would cost San Antonio taxpayers millions of dollars and run up insurance bills for firefighters, witnesses for the city told arbitrators Wednesday.

The controversial proposal came up in the second day of binding arbitration talks between city officials and the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association. Firefighters’ health care benefits have been a key dividing point in talks over the contract.
The firefighters union have asked for $15 million from the city to get the separate health care fund started. City officials have said the firefighters’ plan would cost millions more a year than their current health care plan.

But the fund would also add costs and shrink benefits for firefighters, health insurance experts testifying on behalf of the city told the three-member arbitration panel. It would also diminish the city’s bargaining power when negotiating insurance and prescription costs because there would be fewer employees in the city’s insurance pool, experts testified.

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Original Source: San Antonio Express News