Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Price of Smoking and being Married!

Some of us have already received the letter Albaro posted below. It is from Luis Lewin of Tribune Benefits.

Non-Smokers will agree that this is an unacceptable money grab by the insurance companies and our employer to control our lifestyle and the decisions we make regarding our health.

The air we breath has just as much garbage in it as any tobacco product on the market. Are we going to be charged for breathing next? I know that sounds extreme but so is this unfair decision to penalize the employee/consumer. We all know the dangers of smoking and most would prefer not to, but again, that is an individuals right to choose.
I suggest all of you, whether you smoke or not, to contact employee benefits and voice your anger over this financial penalty against our employee benefit costs.

You should also be allowed to choose and manage your health care providers and premium costs to provide coverage for your spouse regardless of whether he/she can obtain coverage through their employer. We pay additional premiums to include our spouses in our plans, so why are we being forced to remove them, or get FINED. It is obvious that their only goal is to have us drop our spouses to reduce costs for themselves, but as I said, we pay extra for their coverage, it's not free!

Many have spouses with access to coverage and also someone in their family may also smoke, so these employees are being asked to "COUGH" up (excuse the pun) $175.00 a month on top of their already high premiums. This is ridiculously incomprehensible and unreasonably expensive to maintain affordable health care coverage for our families.
Question, do you think your health care provider's costs are equivalent to the service you recieve currently? Do you think they have the right to penalize you for smoking?

What will they next consider "self-inflicted" health risk decisions that they can stick a price tag onto. Riding Motorcycles are dangerous, could Bike Riders be next? Maybe that next beer or glass of wine will be considered a financial opportunity to cash in on the choices we make in our lives.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if the increase in health insurance cost for employees that smoke is justified by the increased health risk. It is, in my opinion, justified because these employees contribute much less as they are always taking extra smoke breaks (certain supervisors included).

Maybe health risk does play a part. Pressroom smokers are always running across the forklift lanes to puff away. Getting hit by a 10,000 lb forklift won't be cheap.

Al Albanes said...

They forgot to mention that part, if not all, of the company's contributions are a tax write of...for them!

Anonymous said...

Life is full of choices; to smoke or not, to get married and have kids, WORKING FOR TRIBUNE! If you don't like it LEAVE!
I wish Tribune would implement a "Whining" surcharge, we would probably have a rate reduction!

Anonymous said...

Our contributions (employees) to health care are also a write off for us. That is, if you are smart enough to set money aside in your tax-savers account at the start of each benefit year.

Anonymous said...

SO much for everything being "frozen" now that we have voted in the union. Guess that wasnt so true after all.

Anonymous said...

I think Big Brother TRIBUNE should take things a step farther and jack up insurance rates for everyone with elevated cholesterol levels.
We could all line up weekly for blood tests.
Then we could go after diabetics and then on to the next creative way to gouge employees.

BTW I am a non smoker

Anonymous said...

any reward for being a non smoker ?

Anonymous said...

How about jacking up the rates for anyone that eats in one of our cafeterias?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't anyone see where this leads? Next year it will be overweight people cost more because there are illnesses associated to that. Then add high cholestorol. They claim other companies do this so its ok. I can't tell you how proud I am to be on a par with Wal- Mart. The insurance company isnt charging this fee its those benevolent people at Tribune.
Imagine being able to have good insurance coverage because you and your spouse cover each other? NO GOOD says Tribune, we want to charge you $75 for that. Maybe they are trying to get you to just leave and take your spouses coverage so they can save even more. Maybe this is how they plan on funding the ESOP?
Other employers usually give you a break for quitting smoking or going under your spouses benefits but of course the dysfunctional management (Zells term) chose to charge us instead. What a disgrace.

Mike Laspina said...

Dennis Dennis Dennis,

As the CEO of this company, I would think that any new policies that are put in place, you would have to sign off on. Well, I would like you to know you have just increased the stress level of about 19,000 employees. Oh, did i say stress (mental or physical tension, tired, nervous, from overwork), As our companies advertising and circulation declines, is this the best thing we can come up with to help off set some of the revenue decline.$100.00 smoking fee and $75.00 spouse access fee to help out administration cost. The unions recognized during negotiations that healthcare is on the rise. That is why Local 406 accepted a 3% increase towards their premiums. (which for Oxford family, dental and vision is an $863.00 increase per employee for 2008) in their collective bargaining agreement. Now I think you should let all the employees know what the legal fees and the cost for all the information of what we are entitled to know will cost this company when we file for arbitration. Tribune elected to be self insured and take on the burden of all administration costs. Now it appears that the employees are being asked to pay for this once again tribune executives are looking to save money any way they can at the cost of the employees.Outsourcing peoples jobs to other countries, making non-union employees go from 35 hours to 40 hours per week with no additional pay, lay offs and the 15 million dollars local 406 gave back in the last round of negotiations. Dennis when is enough enough, and when does it stop??
looking forward to seeing you at the next open forum!
Mike LaSpina
B.A. Local 406

Anonymous said...

Don't push Dennis too far. He may stress out and leave the company, taking a $40,000,000 severance package with him.

BTW- Tribune forgot to mention that in addition to giving employees free drugs for hypertension and diabetes, we now qualify for free enemas.

Anonymous said...

This company seems like it hates to be in business. I hope the new guy gets rid of this management and someone puts us on the right path to success.

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