County workers have already given up much

It seems that since taking office, Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw has been interested in little more than sensationalism and getting re-elected. Now he is taking shots at county workers’ health care coverage, particularly alternative therapies such as massage and acupuncture.

The small amount of insurance payment for acupuncture and massage therapy is accompanied by a co-payment that the member pays at each visit. In addition, these treatments are limited to 12 per year. There are medical studies and other documentation suggesting these treatments are beneficial and that they help keep people working. It should also be noted that these treatments are much cheaper than pain medications, which are highly addictive and very expensive.

In 2004, CSEA, the county’s largest public employee union, shifted from several options to one health care insurer. That year the savings to the county were $17 million. Multiply that savings by nine years and the savings are gigantic. Also take into consideration the seven years that CSEA members working for the county have gone with no increase in salary and we are talking many more millions in savings. We have tried to negotiate with the last three county executives to reach an agreement that would be a win for the county and give a little something back to the employees. How quickly people forget all that we have already given up.

Joan Bender

President, CSEA Local 815