Dear Mayor Becker and Members of the City Council:
On Friday, March 11, 2011 the Benefits Committee voted on recommendations to submit to the Mayor’s Office for consideration.
AFSCME was unable to attend, but sent the following message “AFSCME’s only vote on this matter is to dump PEHP. We cannot, in good conscience, vote for insurance provided by a company that has not done its due diligence to ensure that the employees of Salt Lake City are getting the best insurance at the best rate possible.”
It has been reported to me that a comment was made that “AFSCME chose not to represent its members and cast a vote” or something to that affect. To the contrary, we feel we are representing the best interests of our members by taking a stand and saying to the administration that the employees want and need to see a different path taken.
The audit conducted by the State Legislature should have been a wake up call for everyone. It was very discouraging to AFSCME to see that SLC was not present during the hearing when Senate and House members grilled PEHP administrators on the findings of the audit. It was even more discouraging to attend a benefits committee meeting hours later and watch as a PEHP official laughed off the concerns addressed by the Legislature. It was at that point we realized the true arrogance of PEHP.
If one can mock at findings such as “PEHP is not as competitive as in the past;” “PEHP has permitted a poor purchasing process to exist;” “PEHP’s financial practices need to improve;” “PEHP’s pharmacy program requires improvement;” “Appeals process for claims review needs to be strengthened; and “the person who does the “forecasting” should be fired” then due diligence has not been met.
AFSCME International, with its bargaining power of 1.6 million members, has secured a relationship with a firm called Pajaud/Bender Benefits. They are Certified Employee Benefit Specialists. Their certification alone demonstrates their commitment to the employee benefits industry, as very few achieve this designation.
AFSCME, along with Rick Bender, met with various folks in the city. The intent was to offer their services to Salt Lake City, without any risk and without any cost. Maybe I am just too simplistic, but it is difficult for me to understand why we continue to have obstacles thrown up when we are truly trying to help the city, the employees and the taxpayers.
AFSCME has always prided itself on its relationship with Salt Lake City over the past three plus decades. To quote the article in the Salt Lake Tribune, the City is expecting a “large increase” in the cost of the 2011 health insurance plan and the council is tasked with the “dreadful challenge” of dealing with the rising costs. So I say to you again, let us help.
Mr. Bender is more than willing to come to Salt Lake and meet with any or all of you and explain in full detail what they can offer and where he believes he can save the city significant dollars. At this point, I would say, “What do you have to lose?”
Patty Rich, Executive Director, AFSCME Local 1004
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees