Oxnard, Union at Odds Over Health Insurance Benefits
Health insurance continues to be a sticking point in the ongoing contract negotiations between Oxnard and Service Employees International Union Local 998, the Ventura County Star reports.
The city has offered to increase insurance contributions by about $74 per month, to $315, but union members say that is not enough and want $773 per month -- the cost of the least expensive of five health plans city workers can select from.
Oxnard currently pays workers $241 per month for medical benefits, which is the lowest of eight public agencies, according to a city study.
Karen Burnham, assistant city manager, said the city in previous years has given SEIU negotiators a generous pool of funding and the flexibility to use it for salaries or benefits. She added that the union for the past several years has put the money toward salaries.
Contract negotiations began in April, and about 300 union workers have been working without a contract since June 30, the Star reports.
Barry Zimmerman, director of human resources for Ventura County, said the county recently raised its monthly medical contributions for some workers from $537 to $563. However, Port Hueneme city workers last week agreed to a $60 cut per month in medical benefits to aid a city budget deficit, officials said (Levin, Ventura County Star, 10/9).