City of San Antonio Wins Arbitration Hearing
Saturday, August, 15, 2015
An arbitrator ruled recently the City of San Antonio has the right to verify the status of dependents that are covered on health care plans for members of the city’s Professional Firefighters Association.
The director of the San Antonio’s Government and Public Affairs Department issued a statement describing the ruling as “… a critical victory in the city’s efforts to control healthcare costs.” The city can now determine whether firefighters have people on their health insurance plans that should not be covered by the city.
The city recently audited the civilian and police workforces and were able to save millions of dollars by spotting errors and people covered that weren’t eligible for coverage.
This arbitration ruling comes during tense negotiations between the police union and the city regarding a new labor contract. Health care costs are one of the most significant sticking points in those negotiations. The firefighters are expected to start their union contract negotiations soon.
There is also some speculation the firefighters union will appeal the most recent arbitrator’s decision. Christ Steele, the president of the union, said officials will discuss the possibility in the coming week. The union feels the arbitrator failed to address the true concerns of members – whether the city can gain access to vital records of firefighters.
According to Steele, the city has lost more than 1000 birth certificates and the union wants assurance this type of thing will not be a problem in the future. There are also concerns about identify theft and other privacy issues, in light of the city gaining greater access to personal information.