Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tribune's smoking fee

Mark Lacter


Here's another example of why companies have no business dealing with people’s health care coverage. Employees who smoke (and/or family members who smoke and are covered by Tribune insurance) will have to fork over a $100 surcharge each month. The new fees, to be assessed beginning next year, are an effort to offset higher insurance premiums and promote workers health. "We pay the lion's share of medical expenses and we have a responsibility to contain those costs," Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman told E&P. "We are and have been doing everything we can. It is a shared responsibility between employees and the company." At least two Teamster locals at the Baltimore Sun have filed grievances, claiming that the Chicago-based parent of the LAT (and a bunch of other papers) violates current contract language. In addition to the smoking charge, there will be a $75-a-month charge assessed to Tribune employees who place a spouse into the Tribune plan who could be covered under their own employment plan. Nice. It’s not that other companies haven’t put the squeeze on their workers to shape up, but typically it’s done by way of incentive (lower premiums for folks enrolling in wellness programs, for example).

(For the complete story click here)

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