Support staff makes concessions

JACKSON, Mich. — Support staff in Northwest Community Schools will switch health insurance plans and pay 10 percent of their own premiums as part of an agreement that also will protect their jobs, according to The Jackson Citizen Patriot.

The Northwest Education Support Personnel Association agreed to concessions that, combined with retirements, will amount to an approximate $850,000 reduction in labor costs, The Citizen Patriot reported. The district is no longer considering outsourcing its support services.

The district learned it could save $400,000 in transportation costs and $500,000 in custodial costs by contracting with private companies, according to The Citizen Patriot.

Union President Lindy Loughlin told The Citizen Patriot that union members approved the concessions overwhelmingly rather than face losing their jobs.

"Our main priority was to keep our people — whatever it took," Loughlin said.

The support staff now will enroll in health care plans through Priority Health, rather than the Michigan Education Special Services Association, an insurance administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association. The new plan will include health savings accounts. The change is expected to reduce costs by $400,000.

Retirements among the support are expected to save an additional $450,000, The Citizen Patriot reported.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Union members of Northwest Community Schools' support staff accept enough concessions to avoid privatization," June 16, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Health Savings Accounts Can Save Michigan Money," June 30, 2009