Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 15, 2014

Teachers union did not sway insurance vote

The Andover Townsman

---- — Editor, Townsman:

I write to present the facts with regard to the assertion that the deliberations of the Andover Public Employee Committee comprised of 14 unions were “led by the teachers union.” The Public Employee Committee engaged in hours of deliberations over two months as we considered the proposals to change from our current insurance carrier. Contrary to the assertion of the firefighters union president, my experience was that each union that participated did their due diligence and fact-finding. Hard questions were asked and processed.

At no time did the Andover Education Association seek to pressure other PEC members. Bearing in mind that under proportional voting, the teachers union has 40 percent of the vote, I was always cognizant of my responsibility. I did not indicate the teachers’ position until after other unions spoke. I urge the reporter who did not do his due diligence to fact find with other union representatives who attended that meeting to confirm this fact.

No vote was taken at the April 29 meeting. Rather, each union at the table spoke to their members’ concerns both short and long term. Every voice was heard and considered without acrimony or pressure tactics. The firefighters were in the distinct minority in terms of an unequivocal position in favor of Tufts. Others did express some ambivalence.

This was a complicated, complex decision. The allure of saving money this year was enticing and the Tufts proposal was sound. However, as with many things in life, there were many salient factors to consider. MIIA is a health care trust that provides guarantees and safeguards that a health care insurance provider can’t under the law. The PEC has to negotiate next year as we are re-entering year three of the current agreement.

As the president of the town’s largest union, I pledge to be an active, collaborative and thoughtful participant in those deliberations. I have confidence in the competence of my colleagues on the PEC.

Kerry A. Costello

Andover Education Association president