Impasse in Inyo employee negotiations over health care

inyo_courthouseInyo County employee union rep. David Caravantes said that Inyo County’s health care offer in current negotiations is “the most severe concession” he has ever seen in 35 years of collective bargaining. Inyo Supervisors voted Tuesday to officially declare an impasse in employee negotiations. The next step is a state mediator.

The concession that was the sticking point in negotiations is a cap on the county’s payment for health insurance. Caravantes said the proposed limit to pay for health care will mean many workers will eventually have no health care at all as costs continue to go up.

It’s the costs going up part that Inyo County government apparently fears. County Administrator Kevin Carunchio said Inyo offered the employees their last, best and final offer. The membership voted it down. Carunchio declined to reveal details of the impasse. We spoke to Mr. Caravantes after speaking to Mr. Carunchio. We hope to offer Carunchio a chance to comment on the healthcare issue.

Caravantes said in a couple of years many employees could not afford to pay for health care. A situation familiar to a growing number of Californians. Caravantes said about one-third of Inyo County employees make so little that they would qualify for Medi-Cal.

Caravantes said the employees are willing to make a “reasonable contribution to health insurance. But we have to fight the cap system,” he said. He said that right now Inyo County government is in good shape, but he did admit that the state government problems will hit everyone hard, especially if voters don’t support an extension of higher taxes.

As for Inyo County employees, Caravantes said they waived any wage increases but he called the health care contribution cap “the most severe concession” he has seen in 35 years of bargaining. Caravantes, who negotiates in many locales, said that “the economy is doing a lot of damage and causing a lot of suffering.”

The Inyo Supervisors were asked to approve a resolution at their meeting today that officially declares the negotiating impasse with workers. They approved that resolution.

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