(Nov. 8, 2010) In a local with more than two dozen contracts, somebody somewhere is likely to be bargaining. And one of the don’t-ask-don’t-tell issues at the table is likely to be the cost of health insurance coverage.
But can you believe that, in this environment, there is an insurance carrier that is actually seeking your business? A union insurance company, no less?
If your current insurer is straining to maintain coverage or contain costs, consider the UFW Insurance Fund.
“UFW” is short for “United Furniture Workers.” The Furniture Workers Union was absorbed some time back into the International Union of Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers. The IUE itself merged into CWA about a decade ago (The Newspaper Guild merged into CWA in 1997).
The UFW Insurance Fund is 100 percent union, according to its literature.
How is this so? Well, it was formed before passage of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, so there’s no joint labor-management panel making decisions about what constitutes necessary medical coverage; the board consists entirely of union officials within CWA.
If you want to make a positive difference at the bargaining table, you should consider the UFW Insurance Fund. Making the switch won’t be as easy as calling an auto insurance company for a rate quote, but it can be done, and will probably be of benefit to union members. What you’ll need is a copy of your current contract, a copy of the current benefit program in effect (including health, dental, prescription, optical, disability and death benefits) and documents reflecting any changes in the last two years. You’ll also need information on the size of your group over the last two years, the cost to the employer, and the amount of the employees’ contribution (if any). You’ll also need the claims experiences for the last two years.
One advantage of the UFW plan is that employers are not involved in filing and processing your claims, so your privacy in health matters is enhanced. You’ll also get access to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s PPO network, one of the nation’s largest, giving members a broad nationwide network with substantial discounts.
As with most current health plans, UFW’s insurance program can do bare-bones plans or add-ons such as office-visit co-pays, out-of-pocket maximums, and a prescription-drug card. It can also add short-term disability, dental, optical and death benefits.
UFW director Dee Anne Walker made a presentation on the union insurance fund to the The Newspaper Guild’s sector conference in Washington in July, and she made a persuasive case, especially considering how many contracts are threatening to buckle under the weight of healthcare costs.
The sole staffer from the Buffalo Newspaper Guild had been looking to cut costs, so she joined the UFW fund herself: BAM! She saved the local $9,000 this year alone!
If you’re interested in pursuing a new insurance carrier, get in touch with the UFW Insurance Fund by calling 615-889-8860 (or 800-800-0865), or write UFW Insurance Fund, 1910 Air Lane Dr., Nashville, TN 37210. You can also go through TNG’s contact for the UFW fund: Melissa Nelson, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-434-7177.
Make the call: It could be one of the smartest things you will ever do for your unit .
– Mark Pattison