March 2012

From the Officers
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Keeping Our Commitment

As we battle rising premium costs and corporate America's attacks on employment-based benefits, the fight to preserve access to our hard-won health benefits is one of my top jobs.

And while the trend toward reduced or nonexistent benefits in the private sector continues, the IBEW has been bucking the trend, leveraging the power of our numbers to increase coverage and reduce costs.

By bringing together dozens of smaller plans, the IBEW-NECA Family Medical Care Plan gives us the power to negotiate lower prices for our members and employers nationwide. And interest in the plan continues to grow.

More than 30 IBEW local unions and their NECA chapters and 16 single employers have joined the FMCP since it started in 2005, representing over 14,000 participants and their families.

And as of today, more than 40 local unions and their affiliated NECA chapters are debating joining. We are now in the process of merging five local funds into the plan, while several others are very close to a merger decision.

It also is attracting new members and non-traditional employers to the IBEW, including the city of Potosi, Mo., which, as we reported in the January issue of the Electrical Worker, saved thousands of dollars in health insurance costs after the city placed its workers under the plan.

To meet the challenges posed by this surge of interest, we've made some important changes over the last year.

We've brought on Larry Bradley as executive director to oversee and administer all of the plan's operations. As you might know, Larry also administers the National Electrical Benefit Fund and National Electrical Annuity Plan. The steady and prudent hand that has guaranteed your retirement security will also be helping to protect your health care.

We've also retained a new lead counsel — David Potts-Dupre — who is also general counsel for the NEBF and NEAP.

And we've made it easier than ever to gain initial eligibility by adding another option for coverage. Effective this year, an individual who works 200 hours over two consecutive months — as opposed to 140 hours per month as previously required — is eligible for coverage.

Our commitment to ensuring quality health care coverage has never wavered, even in these exceedingly tough economic times. Providing good benefits has been a bedrock principle of this union since 1891, and the growing strength of the FMCP ensures that we will continue to uphold this commitment for generations to come.


Also: Hill: Imported from North America?

Salvatore J. Chilia
International Secretary-Treasurer