Dozens of unionized employees at Marin General Hospital are set to go on strike at 6 a.m. Friday to protest the hospital’s change in employee health plan coverage, according to the National Union of Healthcare Workers and the hospital, where the strike will take place.
At issue is the proposed cost for Marin General’s PPO plan, which reportedly had been 100 percent employer paid.
Approximately 20 engineers represented by Local 39 will strike alongside about 65 imaging technicians covered by the NUHW. The engineers’ contract ended on Jan. 31; the technicians’ last October.
“The NUHW will strike only on Friday, with employees returning to work on Saturday, Feb. 2,” said Marin General spokeswoman Jamie Maites. “Local 39, however, has communicated its intent to strike until an agreement can be reached. At issue for both unions is the topic of employee health plan coverage.”
Marin General reportedly will require full-time workers who want to keep the PPO plan to pay $120 per month to insure themselves or $359 per month to insure their families, according to the NUHW and an affected employee.
Marin General wouldn’t directly address PPO pricing, but in a statement Maites said the proposal also includes an option for employees to “buy up” for a PPO plan.
“The proposed rates for the PPO plan are less than the rates that the union has agreed to at every other hospital they have a contract with,” Maites said.
The hospital’s current proposal includes a free HMO health plan for its employees and their dependents, Maites said.
Open enrollment was scheduled for last November, but because a contract agreement couldn’t be reached, open enrollment was pushed to this coming July, said Shannon Wolfe, a cardiac sonographer at the hospital and a union member. He said the full employer-paid PPO plan will remain in place until a new contract is agreed upon.
Wolfe said the hospital’s current proposal for the PPO plan would cost his family “upwards of $400 per month.”
“It’s not unreasonable to do some cost sharing,” Wolfe said. “We understand reality but the proposal put forward is really high. The HMO doesn’t seem excellent and none of our doctors are included. So we hope something fair can be settled on.”
NUHW spokesman Matt Artz said if a new contract agreement is reached before July’s open enrollment, the resulting PPO plan will still go into effect in July.