EBC Decision Revisited—Wellness Surcharge Indefinitely Delayed

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We are pleased to inform our bargaining unit that on Tuesday, August 27, the Employee Benefits Council voted to rescind the wellness decision made earlier this year. This means that the wellness requirement/surcharge is indefinitely delayed until the EBC gathers further employee feedback and conducts further evaluation.

As stated in our previous blog article about this matter, our union’s representatives on the EBC had been led to believe that the OHSU president would break any tie and the surcharge would proceed regardless of how our union voted, and that it was better to vote yes and be an active participant in planning the program than vote no and refuse to participate.

Upon further discussion in recent days, we learned that OHSU did not have the intention to have the president break the tie; our understanding of other aspects of the wellness requirement/surcharge also changed. Because of this, our EBC representatives’ rationale to vote yes also changed. Our union appreciates OHSU’s willingness to revisit this decision, and we are grateful that the entire EBC supported suspending the wellness surcharge indefinitely.

Our union does support employee wellness initiatives and we do want to find ways to save our members’ money on their health-insurance premiums through improved health outcomes. However, it’s clear that we need to gather more feedback from our members before our EBC representatives make decisions about wellness initiatives. 

In the days ahead, our union’s representatives on the EBC will also be changing. Please stay tuned for additional information.

39 thoughts on “EBC Decision Revisited—Wellness Surcharge Indefinitely Delayed”

  1. I agree with Teresa, this feels like extortion and I am very happy it is going away and I hope it stays gone. I am perfectly capable of handling my own health care, I do not need a 3rd party to monitor my health (and one paid by my employer to boot!!), it is between me and my doctor, period.

  2. I am not comfortable giving my employer that much health info and then charged if I choose to not participate. I’m glad its going away!! It didn’t sit well with me and my husband

  3. Yeah! Now how do those of us who already agreed to the terms, filled out the survey and signed up for the blood draw rescind permission and agreement?

  4. And again a huge thank you to Jennifer and Matt and all our union staff and representatives for all of the thoughtful, straightforward and honest hard work and communication!

  5. Instead of a wellness surcharge, what about further discounting membership to March Wellness? Even with the discount it is too pricy for me, and that could be an easy way to incentivize wellness

  6. Great news for sure!

    Perhaps the next time this sort of thing comes up AFSCME will actually make a vote that reflects the will of the workers rather than spinning some story about how voting against our interest was a good thing.

    ONA was vindicated in their ‘no’ vote.
    AFSCME got lucky on this one.

    1. Yes. And why should No vote require you to refuse to participate. It seems to me it would be perfectly reasonable to vote no, but continue to participate in the discussion of how it will be implemented if the majority of other EBC members voted for it.

      You know what they say about people who make assumptions right?

      And maybe this is why IH never got back to me on what was necessary to opt-out.

    2. The EBC made too many assumptions in this case without getting sufficient input from employees (and that won’t happen again), but I think it’s unfair to characterize our union as having voted against our members’ interests. Based on the information we had, the wellness requirement/surcharge was going to be pushed through regardless of how we voted, via the president breaking the EBC tie. Our reps on the EBC felt that it was in our members’ best interest to try to make the requirements less onerous, and acted accordingly.

      ONA voted how they felt was best based on the information they had, as did AFSCME. We would ask that our members assume positive intent (or at least benign intent) behind the decisions our union makes—I would hope that we’ve earned that based on our advocacy for our bargaining unit over the last six months of bargaining. (That doesn’t mean, though, that our members shouldn’t keep paying attention, keep holding us accountable and keep giving us feedback—negative and positive.)

  7. Haha, I already did the whole eval! But I’m so glad it’s delayed; I was VERY surprised when I got the email. After all the crap they’ve pulled they want to go forward with the surcharge?! Delaying it sounds appropriate to me!

    1. In the comments on the OHSU Now post about the reversal of the EBC decision, it was mentioned that OHSU was gathering questions and would have additional information. We’ll keep an eye out to see if that information answers this—if not, we can follow up at the EBC.

  8. I planned to NOT participate. I feel that is a job for me and my doctor, not OHSU and a third party. I hated the idea of having to pay a surcharge, but that was my only alternative I guess. Glad they decided to delay. Probably had something to do with all the NEGATIVE comments posted.

  9. Gosh! Maybe they should provide employees access to March Wellness for free? And, the food options on the Hill are horrible, except during the summer with the Farmer’s Market. Portions are too large, with high prices. Provide us healthy (but tasty) choices for under $5 please.

  10. I am happy that OHSU changed coarse after employees expressed such discontent. While I understand the rationale for AFSCME voting yes, in the future, I would like AFSCME be more transparent and let members know what is going on with important votes that will affect us before they are made.

  11. I am very glad that this is being revoked at this time. I do appreciate all the hard work that has been going on behind the scenes by the AFSCME folks. My concern is this Statement: ‘our union’s representatives on the EBC had been led to believe’ . I would counter that being led to believe is not the same as having cold hard facts. We already know that we cannot trust OHSU Leadership. That has been made crystal clear in the past few months. Sadly. Obviously ONA did have these facts and voted accordingly. Perhaps we can take a better look at how ONA came to their conclusion and follow suite when presented with these types of issues that appear to be a lose/lose situation for the members.

    1. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that ONA had facts that AFSCME didn’t. Rather, we had been told things that ONA hadn’t been. ONA voted how they felt was best based on the information they had, as did AFSCME.

        1. I’m saying what was written: “I don’t think it’s accurate to say that ONA had facts that AFSCME didn’t. Rather, we had been told things that ONA hadn’t been. ONA voted how they felt was best based on the information they had, as did AFSCME.”

          If you haven’t already, you might wish to watch the recording of yesterday’s town hall for additional information, when you have a chance–the EBC decision is discussed at the beginning.

  12. The way other companies do it, they pay an incentive fee if employees choose to participate. A program cannot be called voluntary, when non-participation is punished by extra fees. What a punitive approach! So glad the surcharge got “delayed”.

  13. This blog implies that if AFSCME voted against the measure, the voting member would be prevented from helping design the program. Is that indeed true? You vote against a measure and no longer have any voice? That would be incredibly punitive. What about requiring the design BEFORE the vote?

      1. Was ONA’s non participation by their choice or does OHSU refuse to allow them to be a part of the discussion just because they voted no. If OHSU doesn’t allow participation after a no vote that is very short sighted and inflammatory to a group of employees.

        It would seem to me that even if a group votes no they still have valuable insight to give in a program design.

  14. This is totally off of the subject but….Is there going to be a labor day picnic ay Oaks Park for AFSCME OHSU. Can you please send an email a to all of us to see….I want to attend….I still haven’t seen anything yet.

    1. Hi Vickey. We do have a Facebook event about the picnic (here). We should be sending out an email on Friday reminding folks about the contract-ratification/executive-board vote opening on Sunday—I’ll plan to include a blurb about the picnic, too.

  15. I have always felt OHSU would help employees maintain wellness by not charging exorbitant amounts for membership to the wellness center. It’s ridiculous that, as an employee, I can join practically ANY other gym in Portland for a less expensive amount.

  16. Please do NOT cast a yes vote on issues that are not in our interest…especially when it’s based on assumptions of future actions by individuals that are not ourselves. This is not a bright way of doing business. I am very disappointed our reps casted a Yes vote on this issue.

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