Ask your legislators to cosponsor bill to make healthcare more affordable

S-2606/A-4352, long-awaited legislation that would tie public employees’ premium share for health benefits to a percentage of their salary instead of the premium has been introduced. This bill, sponsored by Senator Joe Cryan and Assembly members Gary Schaer, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, and Annette Quijano, would reduce the amount most NJEA members pay toward their health insurance and return fairness to the bargaining table.

Chapter 78 of 2011 removed health benefits from the collective bargaining process, setting a four-year schedule of mandatory premium sharing based on the premium itself. An unintended consequence of this law is that many school employees have seen declining take-home pay since 2011.

Since the sunset of this law, locals have tried to bargain down the premium share with only limited success.  Under Governor Christie, school districts saw eight years of underfunding at the same time they were constrained by a 2% property tax cap. Member premium sharing allowed districts to balance their budgets, making changes difficult to bargain.

S-2606/A-4352 will cap premium sharing at a percentage of salary, not the cost of the premium. It will also allow districts to exempt the health benefits premium relief from the 2% property tax cap. In addition, it requires more transparency around health benefits.

Write to your Senator and Assembly members today, and ask them to support collective bargaining and school employees by joining as a co-sponsor of S-2606/A-4352.

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