The Impact of H59 on Higher Education Professionals

 Dear Colleagues,
I received an inquiry last night  about yesterday’s call to action on the  H. 59 Retiree Healthcare Benefit Reform proposal and its particular impact on higher education employees. In response, I emphasized why, as faculty and professional staff, MCCC members would be more disproportionately affected than K-12 educators and some other state and municipal employees were this proposal to move forward unchanged. I then realized that many of you would benefit from those comments.
As a result, I put together the list of points below so that you and your colleagues might be better informed when you email or speak with your legislators about this. (I know some of you really want to do this!)
See my earlier email (also below) for contact information for state senators and representatives. And please let me know how your legislators respond.
As always, thank you for your participation. It is our retirement future we are talking about here!
Provisions of the Proposed Retiree Healthcare Reform Legislation (H 59)
  • The proposed legislation changes the current  retiree health care benefit for state and municipal employees. Currently, state employees need to work for 10 years only and then would be eligible to receive, upon retirement, the maximum benefit in terms of how much they would have to pay for their health insurance. With this proposal, for those not grandfathered in, the legislation would require that employees would have to work 30 years to receive this maximum benefit. This is much more difficult for employees who typically start their public higher education careers much later in life than those in K-12.
  • Note: exemptions do exist for all current retirees and current employees close to retirement. See the attachment.
  • I have copied a portion of the attached chart (immediately below) to clarify how this would affect future employees and all current employees not grandfathered in.
Percentage of Premium Covered (would increase for longer serving employees).

The bill would put in place a step system that would provide a greater percentage of premium coverage for longer-serving employees.

Currently, an employee receives the Maximum Available Benefit (MAB) once he or she retires. The percentage of the premium split varies from community to community and can be changed by a majority vote of its governing body. The state percentage is set as part of the annual budget and can be changed through the legislative process.

This bill would create the following percentage of MAB over time:

Years of Service:  Premium Contribution

20:                             50 percent of premium

23-26:                       1/3 of the difference between 50 percent and the MAB

27-29:                       2/3 of the difference between 50 percent and MAB

30 Plus:                    100 percent of MAB

TALKING POINTS: The Impact of H59 on Higher Education Professionals
  •  Higher education faculty and professional staff typically begin their careers at colleges and universities later in life. Most of our K-12 professionals begin their careers at a much younger age – right after completion of their 4 year degree.
  • The professional positions at most of our colleges require a Master’s level degree to start, if not beyond, for the work that faculty and professional staff will be doing; and most full-time job descriptions require experience beyond education credentials. As a result, these faculty when hired will have to work later in life to earn the healthcare benefit because they started these public education positions later. 
  • Full-time faculty and staff positions are much harder to come by at our colleges and universities (far fewer jobs available than in the K-12 system), so more education, more experience, and more expertise mean more years spent in other careers and positions prior to starting work at one of our colleges. And since these positions are competitive, those with more credentials and more prior experience are more likely to be hired.
  • Positions in our allied health fields, in particular, are filled by professionals who have often spent many years in the field (understandably so) before beginning a teaching career at our colleges. These and other mid-career employees would have difficulty receiving close to the maximum benefit.
  • The proposal, because it is more harsh on higher ed. faculty and professional staff, is also viewed as a concern for the hiring and retention of quality educators:
    •  Many from the private sector earn less when they come to our colleges to teach or work as professional staff in our academic support programs – though some will be on Medicare at 65, so the healthcare cost will not impact them as greatly if they wait until then to retire. But reducing this benefit could encourage current educators to return to the private sector.
    • Private sector workers who take on positions at our colleges and become vested in the SERS pension system also will be penalized by the federal government statutes of the Social Security law known as GPO/WEP which will reduce their S. S. earnings once they retire and draw on their MA state pension or their ORP assets. As a result, this benefit reduction can be a second concern  or drawback for current educators or those from the private sector considering full-time positions at our colleges.

Tenure Eligibility and Time Lines

By October 1,  MCCC full-time faculty and professional staff who are in their sixth year or later regular appointment should have been notified by their appropriate deans that they will be considered for tenure during this academic year.  If unit members members have not been notified, they should contact the appropriate dean or Human Resources.

Tenure Eligibility and Time Lines
6 Full Years in Unit
3 Years in Current Job Function
Other Than Unsatisfactory Evaluation on Most Recent Summary Evaluation

Eligibility Notice
October 1 of 6th Regular Appointment

March 15th – Supervisor & UPPC  Recommendations
April 15th – Appropriate VP Recommendations
May 1st – President’s Decision to Board of Trustees
May 20th – Tenure Notice

Tenure Appointment – 7th Year

10 Points – Every 3rd Year Post Tenure Evaluation – No funding in the 2013-2015 Contract

In accordance with Article 1.01, full-time unit members on non-state appropriated funding are not eligible to receive tenure.

Dennis Fitzgerald
MCCC Grievance Coordinator
170 Beach Road #52
Salisbury, MA 01952

tel   978-255-2798
fax  978-255-2896