NV Energy retirees get some relief
Local 1245 retirees at NV Energy are getting additional financial assistance for their medical care, thanks to a three-year campaign launched by the union in 2009.
The additional assistance comes in two ways. NV Energy has increased the “cap” on company contributions to retiree medical premiums, and it has established a new “discretionary fund” that will be administered by a trio of retiree activists.
The assistance for retirees didn’t come easy. In 2009, NV Energy acted unilaterally to freeze its contributions to retiree medical premiums, forcing retirees to absorb all future increases in premium costs. IBEW 1245 responded with a “Shame on NV Energy” campaign that publicized the retirees’ plight through political lobbying, demonstrations in Reno, Las Vegas and New York City, and a flood of newspaper, radio, television and internet ads.
In late 2012, a settlement of the dispute created mechanisms to assure that retirees will pay no more in premiums in 2013 and 2014 than they would have before the 2010 cap. In addition, the company placed money in a “discretionary fund” that can be used to help bargaining unit retirees with a demonstrated need.
“People’s costs are not going to be 100% compensated, but at least it’s some assistance on premiums and medically-related out-of-pocket expenses,” said Ron Borst, president of the Reno/Sparks chapter of the IBEW Local 1245 Retirees Club and one of the new fund’s trustees. Those expenses might include things like motel, food and gas expenses if you have to travel for treatment, among other expenses, Borst said.
The other trustees are retiree activists Rita Weisshaar, who helped organize rallies during the Shame on NV Energy campaign, and Tom Bird, who has been active in organizing several chapters of the IBEW 1245 Retirees Club in Nevada.
IBEW Local 1245’s benefits specialist, Bryan Carroll, has lent expertise to the administration of the fund.
“We want people to know that we got some results from our Shame on NV Energy campaign,” said Borst.