The Clark County School District has filed a complaint against the teachers union, arguing that the union has withheld information on the embattled Teachers Health Trust that’s key to contract negotiations.
Trustees have expressed consistent concerns over the financial stability of the trust, which manages health insurance for over 36,000 teachers and their dependents. In replacement, the district has pushed for a new plan under UnitedHealthcare — one that teachers have resisted.
In the complaint, filed Aug. 9, the district argues that the union failed to provide data about the assets of the Retiree Health Plan — the plan under the old Retiree Health Trust that was merged with the Teachers Health Trust as it struggled financially in 2014.
“A large amount of the funding for the (Teachers Health Trust) and the (Retiree Health Plan) has come from taxpayer dollars through contributions by the District pursuant to the (collective bargaining agreement),” the complaint states.
District officials say they want to ensure that money from the Retiree Health Trust will provide insurance coverage for retired teachers.
“Our Board of Trustees has instructed us to negotiate a fair contract and ensure that teachers have reliable health coverage,” the district said in a statement. “It’s clear that all teachers do not currently have reliable and sustainable health coverage by the THT, and we do not find that acceptable.”
The district pays part of teachers’ monthly health care contributions; teachers pay the rest. In typical recent years, the district claims, it has contributed about $116 million of taxpayer money annually to the trust.
After the merger, the complaint said, the union told the district that it transferred over $9 million from the retiree trust to the Teachers Health Trust to pay for retiree claims.
Now, officials are trying to determine where the rest of the retiree health money has gone since 2015.
“How can we understand if the trust is in a healthy place without understanding the financials and what exactly is going on with that?” Trustee Chris Garvey asked.
Meanwhile, the union filed an unfair labor complaint against the district in June, arguing that the district has bargained in bad faith.
The union argues that the district has made almost no proposals except to freeze salaries and eliminate the trust.
Union counters complaint
Union attorney Michelle Kim said the district already has the data it’s seeking.
“The trust had had a separate outside attorney that had reviewed all this stuff when the trust and the Retiree Health Trust had decided to merge,” she said. “All of this was already provided to the district.”
Kim also insisted that there is enough money to cover the estimated retiree liability, which is held in a separate account by a separate custodian.
“This last-minute (labor complaint) sent by the district right before our arbitration date is really just a frivolous (labor complaint),” she said. “I think it’s because they’re probably concerned that they might not prevail, and I’m pretty sure the board will see it that way as well.”
Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.
The Teachers Health Trust has been at the center of a heated legal battle as four former employees claim they witnessed highly questionable practices there, pushed mainly by union leader John Vellardita. The trust has also sued the former employees for releasing confidential information to the district.
The former executives also expressed concern over the retiree trust’s finances. They argued in their counterlawsuit that the union never signed an agreement with the district to set aside $37 million for retiree premium subsidies — as they had committed to do — after the Retiree Health Trust merged with the Teachers Health Trust.