NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The unions representing thousands of Rutgers employees are on the verge of agreeing to a deal with the university that would overhaul their health care coverage and save workers a combined $40 million in premium costs, a source has told TAPinto New Brunswick.
State officials are also involved in the negotiations that would remove Rutgers employees’ coverage from the often-criticized Chapter 78 program to the same preferred provider organization plan that covers state employees.
An announcement confirming the change in health care coverage could come as early as Thursday, a source has told TAPinto New Brunswick.
Christine O’Connell, the president of the Union of Rutgers Administrators Local 1766, which represents about 2,500 administrative workers at the university, confirmed Wednesday that a coalition of unions has been in negotiations with the school.
The coalition includes local chapters of American Association of University Professors, Health Professional and Allied Employees, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Communications Workers of America and others.
A source told TAPinto New Brunswick that the switch in health coverage could save each employee about $1,500.
“It's significant savings, but it's also stabilizing the cost of health care because currently under the Chapter 78 rate, we pay a percentage of the premium, which is independent of anything we ever know,” said O’Connell, who declined to put a dollar amount on the switch. “That’s set annually by the insurance companies and they can go up, they can go down. They have been known to go up year after year. By taking it off a percentage of premium and putting it on a percentage of salary, you're able to budget a little better.”
The Chapter 78 program was championed by former Gov. Chris Christie as a way of saving New Jersey taxpayers about $1 billion. In effect, it forced teachers, police officers and other state employees to pay more into their health coverage.
Gov. Phil Murphy has sought to reverse that. In July, he signed a bill to overhaul the health care benefits for teachers in New Jersey that will lower their premium.
Senate President Steve Sweeney’s office said the plan will save school districts $640 million a year, with another $404 million in savings for teachers and $30 million for the state.