Talks began this week between the de Blasio administration and city unions over labor contracts for 300,000 municipal workers.
It was night and day compared to the Bloomberg era.
“I heard more worthwhile proposals in the first 45 minutes than I heard the previous three years,” Harry Nespoli, chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, said.
“It’s refreshing to have negotiations where both sides respect each other and are willing to listen,” teachers union president Michael Mulgrew said.
Union leaders understand cuts in health costs could result in wage increases. Among the proposals city labor director Bob Linn raised this week were:
l Getting more than 100 unions that all currently administer separate prescription drug programs to join in one megaplan to lower drug prices.
l Creating a series of wellness centers to sharply reduce hospitalization costs.
l Pressing for lower health insurance premiums from EMBLEM health, the main insurer of city workers.
And if those approaches don’t work, de Blasio wants city workers to pay a portion of their health insurance costs, which they do not do now.
I have said again and again, once we agree to pay even a small a part of health care costs, we hit the slippery slope where eventually we are paying most or all of the health care costs.
It is not a salary increase when they give you an 8% raise in one hand and take that 8% away, plus 2% more, for health care costs from the other hand.
The drug plan changes, the wellness centers, lower premiums all sound like reasonable proposals, depending upon the details.
Saying we'll pay even 1% of health care costs does not.
Because 1% this year will be 10% soon, and eventually 25%, and so on until we're paying all or nearly all of those costs.