Employer uses health benefits as a strike breaking tactic

My local electrical utility, NStar found a way to use health care as a weapon against its striking workers. From today’s Boston Globe (Contract restores health benefits immediately):

NStar had also restored, retroactive to the May 16 start of the strike, its 85 percent contribution to strikers’ Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance. In a move that union leaders denounced as heartless, NStar slashed its healthcare contribution within hours of the start of the strike.

Workers could still get health coverage if they paid the full bill, and NStar said it was obvious that workers choosing to strike would forfeit pay and benefits. But union leaders and many elected officials blasted NStar’s move as excessively harsh to workers facing cancer treatments, childbirth, and expensive medical procedures.

That last sentence is a bit of a red herring, considering NStar is paying the same insurance contribution regardless of an employee’s health status.

Key issues in the contract negotiation between NStar and Local 369 of the Utility Workers of America included work rules and –you guessed it– health care benefits.

May 30, 2005

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