Lansing Department Heads Take On Health Care Costs

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Starting July 1, Lansing mayor Virg Bernero and 29 other city department heads will begin paying a portion of their health insurance premiums.

"We are hoping this sets an example," Bernero says. "We're taking the lead."

The city will save $30,000 yearly with this new plan. It's not much in the big scheme of things, with the city's projected $10 million deficit, but Bernero says it's a step in the right direction.

"Health care can't continue to be the PacMan in this budget. We have other things we need money for-- law enforcement, roads, community centers," Bernero lists. "Health care can't keep eating away at our budget."

These health insurance changes will only directly affect non-union workers. But union workers see this as a potential setback for future negotiations.

"This will pave the way one way or another," says UAW Local 2256 Unit VP Stan Shuck. "In the long run, this is what we're looking at."

Union rep and city worker Steve Goodwin is worried about the direction health care and benefits are headed, and it's not just today's announcement that has him thinking about the next contract negotiations.

"It's devastating for the rest of us. We really are concerned with how the city is financially and how it's going to be affecting us," Goodwin says.

The Teamsters union is currently in negotiations with the city, and as they discuss health benefits, Bernero hopes union members will follow his lead.

"I've always said I will never ask union members to do something city workers haven't done," Bernero says.

But now they have-- and it's a whole different story.


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