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There is no one size fits all solution to how chapters are bargaining part-time faculty health insurance with their community college districts. The Southwestern College Education Association (SCEA) in San Diego County negotiated an expansion of their current health insurance for part-time faculty commencing in Fall 2023. Immediately upon receiving an assignment of 40 percent at Southwestern College, or as a multi-district part-time faculty, unit members and their dependents are eligible to select plans that are 90 –100 percent paid by the district. If their load falls below 40 percent, they can maintain their current plan for one semester with the district paying 67 percent of the premium.

While chapters are submitting their demands to bargain, one of the major challenges is that chapters and districts are finding resistance from insurance brokers and insurance companies. The only way to get around that is to bargain for the actual health plans. The Riverside Community College District Faculty Association (RCCDFA) did this 20 years ago and made the brokers’ contracts bargainable. RCCDFA actually replaced the broker and then demanded better negotiations with the insurance companies. As part of that process, the brokers had to interview with the Health Benefits Committee that included RCCDFA representatives who then made a recommendation to the union chapter board and trustees.

The health insurers had to also go through the same process, and RCCDFA demanded detailed statistics and analysis for each of the health plans, including utilization and even pharmaceutical usage. The result is that RCCDFA has been able to make informed decisions, lower costs, improve services and ensure that part-time and full-time faculty—and by consequence, administrators and staff—are receiving the best benefits available with two HMOs and a PPO. The collective bargaining agreement provides the RCCDFA President or designee with unfettered direct access to their third-party administrator which ensures the district cannot make unilateral changes. When problems have occurred, RCCDFA leadership has been quick to address these with the broker and insurance companies and aren’t hesitant to bring major issues to the trustees’ meetings to voice concerns and frustrations.

“It is possible to triumph; chapters must remain committed in their approach and demand shared governance participation in the entire process,” said CCA Secretary John Sullivan, a former executive board member at the Riverside Community College District Faculty Association and San Bernardino Community College District Teachers Association.

“My recommendation to all chapters struggling with this is to work with your CTA primary contact staff to review your options and push forward, knowing that you are not alone in the process.”

–CCA Secretary John Sullivan

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