ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

EDITORIAL: Benefits issue deserves keen board attention

School board members will debate a very important issue tonight that will affect taxpayers and teachers alike. The School District of Superior already offers health insurance to retired teachers. At retirement, their insurance premiums are paid 1...

School board members will debate a very important issue tonight that will affect taxpayers and teachers alike.

The School District of Superior already offers health insurance to retired teachers. At retirement, their insurance premiums are paid 100 percent. That dollar amount remains constant as time advances. If premiums rise, the retiree must pick up the difference.

To be considered is a change through which each existing teacher who retires would receive about $100,000 for future healthcare, deposited into a trust. It could only be used for healthcare-related costs such as insurance premiums. New hires would receive $1,300 per year in a medical savings fund that would function like a 401 K, appreciating in value if wisely invested.

Officials say this change would help them more accurately account for future costs. That's an extremely important measure, because no entity wants to end up with the unfunded healthcare liability evident in other localities, namely Duluth.

Taxpayers, of course, have other interests to consider. They are less concerned about the accounting mechanism than the overall cost. So here's the question: Does this contract provision offer the Superior Federation of Teachers a benefit that most other workers don't receive?

ADVERTISEMENT

This same question should be asked whenever governmental entities negotiate with workers. There was a time when government wasn't known to offer great wages. Today, there's growing evidence that a government job will pay as much or more than private employment, plus paid benefits not typically available in the private sector, including early retirement and paid or subsidized post-retirement healthcare.

With so many people complaining about tax rates, government boards must be especially careful to bargain fair employment contract. And fair not only means fair for labor. It also means fair to employers -- i.e., taxpayers. School board members should keep that in mind tonight.

What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT