HUNTINGTON – The city of Huntington has agreed to re-enter negotiations as part of a tentative settlement with the firefighter and police unions regarding its labor contract.
Huntington was named in two lawsuits filed by the Fraternal Order of Police Gold Star Lodge 65 and Herschel Marshall, a retired firefighter who was part of the International Association of Firefighters Local Union 289, for its change in health benefits. The lawsuits were filed in early March in Cabell Circuit Court.
The city’s health care insurance plan is part of the labor contract and, as part of the lawsuit, the city has named 175 retired firefighters and their spouses in a counterclaim.
Huntington Mayor Steve Williams sent a letter on April 10 to the 175 retired firefighters and spouses that stated that by naming them as third party defendants, they are able to have a say in the litigation.
The individuals named have 30 days to respond.
If the labor contract for the police and fire unions is approved by the unions, as well as Huntington City Council, there will be no need for further litigation in the ordeal. The 175 individuals were named in the lawsuit because IAFF does not serve as a bargaining unit for retired firefighters.
In February, the city announced changes to the health care plan that would result in higher deductibles and co-pays for participants. The most significant changes occurred in the plans for pre-Medicare retirees.
Many of the current plans for pre-Medicare retirees have no co-pays for office visits, a deductible of $250 per person per calendar year and a $400 co-insurance limit per person per calendar year. Under the new plans, those individuals now have co-pays of $20 for primary care office visits, $30 for specialist car visits and $40 for urgent care visits and deductibles of $4,000 for families and $2,000 for individuals.
The new benefits went into effect on April 1.
The consolidated case has been assigned to Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard.