San Francisco Janitors Vote To Strike To Protest Proposed Copayments for Physician Visits, Prescription Drugs
About 3,000 janitors who are members of the Service Employees International Union Local 1877 and work in 250 buildings in San Francisco on Saturday voted to strike as early as today in the event that cannot reach agreement on a contract that maintains their current health benefits, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. More than 95% of the 800 janitors who voted approved a motion to strike (Lee, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3). The janitors, whose contract expired July 31, hope to negotiate a contract that maintains their full family health benefits. The janitors have not had premiums or copayments for more than 30 years (California Healthline, 7/29). The building owners and the cleaning companies that employ the janitors have proposed that the janitors begin to make $10 copayments for physician visits and brand-name prescription drugs and $5 copayments for generic medications. The contract proposal also includes a $1.30 pay increase over a five-year period (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3). The top pay rate for the janitors is currently $15.65 per hour; with health and pension benefits, the compensation package totals about $20 per hour, according to building owners (AP/Contra Costa Times, 8/3). The janitors decided that will strike in the event that building owners do not agree to their terms by 5 p.m. today. The strike would mark the first in San Francisco since 1990 (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3). SEIU Local 1877 President Mike Garcia said, "Our strike vote I believe sends a strong message that our members are ready to push back" (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/3). Bob Ford, the chief negotiator for the cleaning companies, said, "We're obviously disappointed that they didn't accept our offer, which we thought was extremely fair and reasonable, providing for wage increases and only a very slight cost to them in the health insurance area" (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3).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.