Guild Develops Rescue Plan for Health Benefits Fund: Unanimous Endorsement from Times Unit Council; Member Meeting Set for Next Week


The Guild last week unveiled a package of benefit restructuring and cash infusions from members to rescue the financially troubled independent health benefits fund that pays the medical and dental claims of members at The Times, Times Digital and WQXR.

The proposal, which was prepared with the help of outside experts and largely reflects the opinions expressed in a recent Guild survey, was sent last Friday to company managers who jointly oversee the Guild-Times Benefits Fund with Guild appointees. If members approve it, the Guild plans to propose its package at the next meeting of the Benefits Fund’s trustees on November 5.

The Guild plan will keep the Benefits Fund adequately funded at least through 2011, according to Richard G. Murdock, an actuary and expert on health benefits who was instrumental in developing the plan and has helped the Guild successfully bargain over health care at Reuters, The Nation magazine and several other units. The Guild is also having experts at AON Consulting review the proposal and its projections.

Guild leaders are planning meetings to explain the rescue plan to members and ask them to vote on it. Informational meetings will be held at the Guild office, 1501 Broadway, Suite 708, Tuesday, October 28 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and at the Washington Bureau on Monday, October 27 at 12:30 p.m. Voting will take place at meetings at the Times Center, Friday, October 31 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Elected rank-and-file Guild leaders on The Times’ Unit Council last week gave it their unanimous endorsement.

“With guidance from our survey and help from outside professionals, we’ve come up with an innovative plan that should keep our members protected by a good insurance program into 2012 without meat-ax-style cuts or disproportionately shared costs,” said New York Guild President Bill O’Meara. “When our contract comes up for renewal in 2011, we’re going to demand that the company pay its fair share.”

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