A health care win for Southington town employees

Union solidarity produced positive results in Southington, when Town officials recently agreed to keep the current health insurance provider for town and Board of Education employees after four leaders from Council 4 AFSCME objected to the change.

The Southington Town Council, through its Self-Insurance Committee, adopted the recommendation to change plans from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to Cigna and was slated to vote on the motion during its regular meeting March 28.

All of the bargaining units — including several Council 4 locals, as well as teachers, firefighters and police — came together out of concern that switching health care plans would prove harmful.

Although the Town has the right to change providers under all the collective bargaining agreements, members raised concerns about the disruption rate — losing their medical providers because they would be out of network under the new provider — and that the Town wasn’t going to realize the projected savings.

Union members had attended past Town Council meetings. They didn’t speak but wanted to make their presence felt. The unions delivered a letter with every president’s signature expressing their concerns. The joint letter urged  to look at other options and, barring better alternatives, urged town officials to stay with the current provider. 

Town officials listened. At the March 28 Town Council meeting, Town and Board of Education officials jointly announced they accepted a three-year contract proposal from Anthem to continue covering employees.

Council 4 local leaders in Southington who joined the pushback included:

  • Local 1303-140, Southington BOE nurses, Co-Presidents Casie Messina and Lisa Meccariello
  • Local 1303-072, Southington BOE custodians, President Michael Najarian
  • Local 1303-123, Southington BOE Maintainers, President Chris Bruton
  • Local 1303-026, Town of Southington Department of Public Works, Parks & Water Pollution Control, President Steve Pompeii

“What happened in Southington is a great example of union solidarity in action. We came together out of concern for the impact of switching plans not just on our members but also on taxpayers. We appreciate town leaders listening to us, and we are grateful for the help and support we got from Council 4 staff,” they said in a joint statement.

Council 4 Staff Representatives Lisa McKinnon, Kelly Rommel and Chris Sugar and Service Representative John Cole supported our locals throughout the successful campaign to maintain the employees’ health care coverage.