MORNING BUZZ: Paid, Grand and Grandparents

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Good Morning…

If it’s your inclination…light a candle or say a prayer for my parents today.  They “get” to be parent-helpers at the boys pre-school class.  I’m sure they will have fun.

They are in town to celebrate the boy’s birthday, my brother Matt’s 40th birthday and my Dad’s birthday.   Just the adults are going out to dinner tonight.  We are headed to Flying Mango.  I haven’t been there in a while so it will be interesting to see if it’s as good as I remember.


So, State Union workers’ contract was resolved by an arbitrator   The workers won’t get across the board pay increases but they won’t have to pay anything for their Healthcare.  Please save the emails about how State workers pay for their Healthcare.  Some…a small percentage pay.  The vast majority do not and the Head of the Union that negotiated the contract said that is a major priority moving forward.  He also said workers “gave up” wages to get the healthcare.  That statement would assume a raise was something the workers had a right to.  They didn’t.  A raise isn’t a right…it’s earned and it’s at the discretion of the employers.

According to published reports at the time it was signed, AFSCME got four across the board pay increases over this current two-year contract and 4.5% “step” increases for some members.  Those increases came during one of the toughest financial times in the State’s history.  Four raises in two years.  Did you get four raises in the last two years?

Last time around Governor Culver got the initial offer from AFSCME and just accepted it.  No negotiation.  Private sector workers were being laid off and having their salaries cut…but public employees  got paid back for supporting the Democratic Governor who was on the way out the door.

Given that history, forgive me if I am not sympathetic to the Union’s position that its members “gave up” wages.  In their last contract negotiation, it was the person who was supposed to be representing the taxpayers that just “gave up”…opened the checkbook and said…take what you want.

Back to the point, which is healthcare. It’s not just unreasonable for State employees to pay nothing for their Healthcare, it’s a bad idea.  Having skin in the game where your healthcare is concerned is critical.

I’d love to see a healthcare program for state employees where they are charged $150/month for a family plan…which is still a GREAT deal.  Then, give those employees a chance to get that entire $150 back through wellness challenges.  If they lose weight, eat healthy take part in regular exercise, they could essentially bring their premium contribution down to zero.  Not everyone would take advantage, but even if a small percentage did, it would save the State A LOT more money than would be gained in employee contributions.

Oh… and by the way it would improve the health and the lives of the people who work for the state.

I’m sure someone will be able to come up with a specific set of circumstances where this kind of plan wouldn’t work for them.  Obviously it’s a lot more complicated, but my point is that we are misusing our Healthcare system.  The current system is unsustainable.  Instead of teaching people to be well, we are treating people after they are already sick.


The Grand Ave bridge project at 63rd is going to be a PAIN this summer.  I’d forgotten this project was in the pipeline.  It has been delayed once but I still think you are going to have THOUSANDS of drivers who are shocked to find out the bridge is closed.  The City gave you a lot of warning.

I hope you all have a great weekend!