LOCAL 211 SYRACUSE, NEW YORK
NABET wins Insurance Arbitration at WROC-TV a Nexstar Broadcast station.
NABET wins Insurance Arbitration at WROC-TV
NABET-CWA won an arbitration award for the 50-person unit at WROC- TV in Rochester,
N.Y. on Oct. 2. At issue was Nexstar Broadcasting Group's implementation of an improper
health insurance plan.
In 2012, Local 22 filed a grievance when Nexstar substituted the members' Blue Cross\Blue
Shield insurance with a plan that included new annual deductibles, higher co-pays, and
much higher prescription fees. While the contract gave the employer the right to switch
plans, the contract language also stated that the replacement had to be substantially
equivalent to the negotiated plan. The evidence put on by NABET-CWA at the arbitration
hearing proved that the new plan violated the contract.
'The real burden was the cost of prescriptions," said Staff Attorney Judiann Chartier.
"Some members were paying $150 a month for their prescriptions, which was 10 to 15
times more than their previous plan." The arbitration was conducted under the auspices of
the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). Michael Lewandowski was the
FMCS designated arbitrator and based his decision on preponderance of evidence
provided by Local 22 members. The arbitrator's decision states that the Nexstar Plan
"provides inferior benefits when compared to the 2012 BC/BS plan it replaces" and "the
evidence submitted here shows a significant reduction in health insurance benefits is
suffered by the Grievants under the Nexstar Plan." The evidence showed that
out-of-pocket costs for deductibles went from $0 to $750;
a new spousal surcharge was implemented at a cost of $200 per pay period; preventative
office visit costs went up to 40% of the cost of the visit; Urgent care costs increased from
$25 to up to 40% of a bill; lab and x-ray costs went from $0 to 20-40%; and, hospital
coverage went from $100 to $200 plus up to 40% of the bill. As such, Umpire Lewandowski
found the company violated the collective bargaining agreement. "The totality of the
benefits provided under the Nexstar Plan represent a significantly different cost picture to
the Grievants," the NLRB decision states.
Arbitrator Lewandowski ordered Nexstar to reimburse employees for overage payments
that they would not have had to pay under the old plan. In addition, the company was
ordered to find another plan that is equivalent to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan by
January 1. The employees' plan was changed in November 2012.
Chartier said the decision is important not just for the WROC unit, but also for the other
Nexstar-owned stations in Erie, PA and Syracuse, NY where NABET-CWA also has
NABET-CWA LOCAL 51211 Copyright © All rights reserved worldwide