Birmingham Renews Contract With Municipal Employees Union
The new contract with AFSCME Local 998 includes higher deductibles and prescription copay costs, as well as guaranteed 2 percent wage increase every year for the next three years.
Higher deductibles and higher prescription copay costs are part of the latest contract renewal with Birmingham's municipal employees union.
The Birmingham City Commission voted to approve a settlement between the city and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Local 998, at their Monday night meeting.
The move renews the city's contract with AFSCME through June 30, 2016. The group's current contract expires at the end of June. AFSCME Local 998 represents 15 full-time and six part-time clerical and technical employees working at various departments around Birmingham.
According to a memo written Assistant City Manager Joe Valentine, the union first began the bargaining process in February, with a settlement between the two sides reached in early March.
The contract renewal features:
- A 2 percent wage increases each year of the contract
- 25 percent increase in the employee deductibles and coinsurance rates, as part of the group's health care plan
- 60 percent increase in copay costs for brand-name prescription and mail-order drugs
- 67 percent increase in employee contributions to a monthly, retiree health care account
According to Valentine, the provisions are consistent with existing contracts with the teamsters and the Birmingham Firefighters Association.
In recent years, Birmingham has faced several challenges settling contracts with various unions around town. In May 2012, the city reached a settlement with the Birmingham Firefighters Association, which had gone two years without a contract. Their current contract expires next year.
The Birmingham Police Officers Association and the Birmingham Commanders Union, meanwhile, went three years without a contract until finally reaching a settlement with the city in December 2011. Both of those contracts are also up for renewal at the end of June.
The sticking point for those negotiations was a defined contribution retirement savings plan, in which employees contribute to a health care account over the course of their career. Previously, both unions had been operating under a defined benefit retirement plan.
AFSCME Local 998, however, was already operating with a defined contribution healthcare plan, though the amount employees have to contribute to the plan took a 67 percent leap in the new contract.