After weeks of uncertainty and public outcry, the GIC met yesterday and voted to reverse its decision to block new members from several health insurance options. The GIC had approved a preliminary proposal to freeze membership in Tufts and Fallon health care plans, in addition to Harvard Pilgrim, which had been frozen to new members the previous year. This vote, taken before the public was given the opportunity to comment, prompted a strong response from the HEA and other city unions. Mayor Fiorentini, who made the decision to join the GIC last fall, joined us in our objection to these changes being made after it was too late to reconsider. Yesterday’s vote will allow Haverhill’s employees and retirees to choose from every GIC option, including Harvard Pilgrim, during the upcoming open enrollment period (April 5 – May 3).
The HEA would like to thank all those who took the time to contact the GIC and advocate for Haverhill’s employees and retirees. The flood of emails and phone calls received undoubtedly affected this change in course. We should take pride in our success but not rest on our laurels. The HEA continues to address many issues even as we prepare for what seems like never-ending contract negotiations for the secretarial and ESP units whose contracts expire on June 30 (the teachers unit contract expires in 2018). As the district continues to see increased enrollments, rising special education and transportation costs, and seeks to continue making capital improvements and repairs on existing buildings, you can expect to hear the usual calls for austerity from the School Committee and City Council. This means that any wage increases for our members will require a larger, more coordinated and sustained effort. As we’ve seen over these past few weeks, our solidarity is our greatest strength.
The GIC has scheduled a number of Health Fairs around the state, including one in Haverhill on April 14th at Northern Essex Community College from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m (David Hartleb Technology Center, 100 Elliot Street). Though the city’s human resource department will also be hosting information sessions as open enrollment approaches, members are encouraged to contact the GIC to request additional sessions during non-work hours. Though April 14 is a scheduled day off for the Haverhill Public Schools (Good Friday), other city employees work during these hours and may not be able to attend. In addition, the schools’ April vacation begins on this day and many employees may be away. Members are encouraged to contact the GIC and request additional Health Fairs for the roughly 4,000 new members to be able to get assistance with registering for a new health insurance plan.Transition to GIC Health Benefits Memo
Required Documents Sheet Appendix A