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City Should Team With Other Municipalities

To The Reader’s Forum:

I’m a retiree of the city of Jamestown. As a union officer I negotiated a lot of our insurance. The city at one time played all five unions against each other negotiating insurance. I formed a coalition in the early 1970’s of all five unions and we negotiated insurance as one unit — Police Department Kendall Club, Fire Department Morton Club, AFSCME, CSEA and Jamestown General Hospital nurses. Ombudsman Sam Nalbone was the city’s negotiator. We made great strides in our coverage. It was my idea a couple of years later that Sam Nalbone investigate going to self insurance to save money. The idea worked out. At that time the city had over a thousand employees. The nurses union being the largest. With the loss of JGH I feel the city’s self insurance is now a mistake. Insurance costs are figured by numbers of employees.

As a former employee and now a retiree, I have always paid a share of the plan’s cost. There was a contract where all of the unions agreed not to take pay raises for a two-year period. The city would use the money saved to help fund our insurance. There was over a million dollars in that fund. If asked a former councilman Charles Nazzaro would confirm this. I had an on the air conversation with him about this on WJTN, Ray Hall show where he confirmed it. Where did that money go? I feel the retirees who are on Medicare, are paying more than we should for our share. Because of our contract we have Part B Medicare. I pay what an active employee pays, but also pay for part B — which makes retiree actually paying more. Medicare pays 80% before the city’s insurance pays 20%. There are contractual agreements with providers. Medicare deductible is $197. The city’s is $250. Medicare pays before the city does. Retirees are actually saving the city money. Our premiums should be lower.

What the city should be doing is teaming up with other municipalities to make the group larger. More participants lower costs. The current city’s administrator is BlueCross BlueShield of WNY.

Jim Elardo

Jamestown

former labor foreman 1 DPW

former AFCME union officer.

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