The court battle between the Newfane Central School District and some retired unionized non-instructional employees over changes in post-retirement health benefits will continue with a hearing over what the word “same” means.
The state Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that four retirees, who sued after the district raised their prescription copayments in 2010, are entitled to the “same coverage” they had when they retired until they turn 70. That’s what their most recent union contract says.
However, the court unanimously ordered the case returned to State Supreme Court in Niagara Falls for a hearing on what the negotiators for the Civil Service Employees Association and the district meant when they worked out their contract for the years 2007-2012.
Specifically, the issue is whether they meant the phrase “same coverage” to bar any modifications at all. Affidavits submitted to the Court of Appeals didn’t clear up that matter, the court said. The district claims the changes it made establish equivalent coverage for the retirees and should be allowed.