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June 15, 2024
State members will receive early COLA thanks to PEBB projections
Updated On: Jun 18, 2014


There is good news for AFSCME-represented (and other) state employees: PEBB, the Public Employees Benefits Board that administers health care coverage for state workers, has announced no increase in the 2015 premium rates. A domino effect means that AFSCME members will receive a scheduled wage increase sooner than expected and many AFSCME state members will pay less for health care coverage.


The COLA kick comes thanks to an extra provision negotiated by AFSCME in the last state contract. Council 75 Executive Director Ken Allen spearheaded the inclusion of language in the state contract that reads as follows:


For every one and six-tenth percent (1.6 percent) that the 2015 PEBB projected composite rate is below the projected five percent (5 percent) increase for Plan Year 2015, the two percent (2 percent) across the board pay increase will be paid one (1) month earlier than December 1, 2014 increase.


While the final calculations aren't completed, Stacy Chamberlain, Oregon AFSCME's Collective Bargaining Director and the union's representative on the PEBB Board of Directors, says it appears employees could see the COLA come as early as September 2014 based on the PEBB projections.


"If we have a good year, that is the employees' money, not the state's, and they should receive it in the form of an earlier COLA," Allen told state negotiators during Central Table bargaining. AFSCME's insistence on that clause will now benefit all state employees.


PEBB was also able to maintain and even expand plan options in some areas (see attached PDF).


"We are pleased to announce more options for more members," said Chamberlain, Oregon AFSCME. "Because more than 95 percent of PEBB-covered employees will have a choice of two or more plans, a contract proviso will be triggered that says those who select the least expensive of the options will see their premium co-pay drop from 5 percent to 3 percent."


Chamberlain notes that option rests entirely with the employee — those willing to pay the 5 percent for the more expensive plan may do so.


PEBB is the purchaser of health care benefits for more than 130,000 Oregonians, using its buying power to get the best health care available from health plans that serve its members. Chamberlain says open enrollment will likely occur in October, with the new plan year beginning on Jan. 1, 1015.



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