Northern California Delta Dental Plan Clerical Workers Strike over Benefit Revisions
About 1,000 Delta Dental Plan clerical workers in northern California went on strike last Friday, the Sacramento Bee reports. The strike began after the workers, represented by the Teamsters Union Local 856, rejected the company's most recent contract offer two weeks ago. That contract would boost workers' salaries -- currently between $11 and $15 per hour -- by 18% over the next four years. Other provisions of the contract appear below:
- A 40-hour flexible workweek, which would replace the current 37.5-hour schedule, and reduced overtime;
- An increase in copayments for doctor's office visits from $5 currently to $10;
- A $3 copay per prescription, for which union members currently pay nothing; and
- A $2,000 annual cap on coverage of dental services, which are currently not capped.
Michael McLaughlin, business agent for the union, said that these provisions in effect would reduce the 18% raise to an 11% raise. He added, "We tried to reach a settlement ... but they weren't willing to budge at all." Jeff Album, a Delta spokesperson, said that although the company added one million new members last year, "money is not falling from trees." He added, "We made our best and final offer."
Some dentists are concerned that if the strike persists, their payments could be "severely delayed." Ninety-two percent of the state's dentists and 15 million Californians are in the Delta Dental Plan. But Delta officials said that disruptions in service should be "minimal." Album said, "We'll be fine in the short term," but he added that a longer strike would "result in a lag time" for claims processing. Album said that the "only way for the strike to end" is for the workers to return, according to the Bee (Payne, Sacramento Bee, 7/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.