TCU Members Set Priorities for National Bargaining

TCU Members Set Priorities for National Bargaining

Setting the stage for national freight negotiations, thousands of carmen and clerical members have expressed their priorities in TCU’s Bargaining Survey for the upcoming round of national freight negotiations.

Wage increases were far and away the top priority of carmen and clerical members who responded to the Bargaining Survey. 46% of carmen respondents and 43% of clerical respondents set wage increases as their number one priority. No other choice was selected first by more than 17% of respondents in either craft.

Carmen members’ top six choices were in order of weighted importance: wage increases, minimize employee contributions for health insurance, more time off with pay, improve medical benefits for retired workers and restrict contracting out (tied), and improve medical insurance coverage.

Clerical members’ top six choices were in order of weighted importance: wage increases, minimize employee contributions for health insurance, improve medical benefits for retired workers, improve medical insurance coverage, more time off with pay, and restrict contracting out.

In addition to asking members to set bargaining priorities, the Poll also asked extensive questions about the National Health and Welfare Plan, which is sure to be a major issue of contention in the upcoming bargaining round.

Members expressed overall satisfaction with the quality of the existing Plan in terms of medical care and administration. 63% of carmen members and 70% of clerical members rated the overall quality as good or excellent. 29% of carmen members and 25% of clerical members rated the quality as fair. 8% of carmen and 5% of clerks rated the quality as poor.

There were significant variations when members were asked their opinion of the various components of the plan. Large majorities of carmen and clerks rated the Managed Care plan as good or excellent (well above 70%). Similar levels of satisfaction were found with Hospital Association members.

Members were also very satisfied with the prescription drug plan, with more than 70% of members rating the plan good or excellent. Majorities also rated the mental health coverage as good or excellent.

Members were most critical of their dental insurance coverage. 23% rated the dental coverage as poor and another 37% rated it as fair. One third of respondents rated dental coverage as good, and only 7% considered it excellent.

Members under the Comprehensive Health Care Benefit plan were split. 48% of those responding rated the coverage as good or excellent, 52% as fair or poor. The Vision Plan elicited slightly less favorable results: 44% rated the plan as good or excellent, and 56% rated the plan as fair or poor.

For members choosing to enroll in managed care, the two most important factors were low co-pays and the convenience of not having to submit bills to insurance companies for reimbursement. When asked what was the most important issue going forward, more than 50% of those in managed care listed “no increase in co-pays” as their first choice. Reducing out of network penalties was the second choice, and adding more hospitals, laboratories and doctors a close third.

For members covered by the Comprehensive Health Care Benefit (CHCB) plan, by far the major reason given for choosing CHCB over Managed Care was the convenience of seeing any doctor or medical provider without worrying whether they were in the managed care network. That reason was cited by 94% of respondents.

More than 70% of respondents said it was very important to maintain the CHCB option. 65% of respondents favored adding a HMO option provided it had lower monthly contributions than current contributions. Approximately 60% of respondents wanted more choices of plans, with lower employee contributions for basic coverage and higher contributions for plans with more extensive benefits.

On the subject of negotiating high deductible health savings accounts as a new option, 45% of members felt they needed more information before they could decide. Only around 20% favored pursuing the option.

As to seeking improved benefits, an overwhelming majority listed their top choice as improving dental insurance coverage above the $1,500 annual maximum.

“I want to thank every member who took the time to respond to our bargaining survey,” says International President Robert Scardelletti. “Your responses are invaluable to me and Carmen Division President Richard Johnson as we prioritize our goals for the upcoming round.”

“We face a tough road ahead. The carriers have sharpened their knives based on the results of the Presidential and congressional elections. They are deadly serious about pushing their concessionary demands to the limit. But we are determined to fight with every weapon we have for a fair and just contract that reflects the priorities our members have established.”

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