Officer Entitled To Waive Health Insurance

A police officer for the Township of Upper Saucon, Pennsylvania Police Department originally maintained one-person health insurance. When she married a fellow officer in 2007, she sought to take advantage of a provision in the Township’s contract with the Upper Saucon Township Police Association that allowed officers to waive health insurance in exchange for a $200 monthly payment.

The Township denied the officer’s request for a waiver. The Association then challenged the denial in arbitration.
The Township contended that the grievance was an example of what “gives collective bargaining a bad name,” and described the Association’s position as “defying common sense” because the Township did not, in fact, save any money when the officer waived health insurance. Nonetheless, an arbitrator upheld the Association’s position.

The Arbitrator found that the contract only specified four conditions for the waiver of health insurance: (1) Whether the officer intended to waive the insurance; (2) the provision of proof of coverage through a spouse’s health insurance plan; (3) no evidence that the officer would be unwilling to comply with all applicable insurance regulations; and (4) no evidence that the officer intended to waive coverage under the officer’s spouse’s policy. Because all four conditions were met, the Arbitrator concluded the officer was entitled to the $200 monthly stipend.

Turning to the Township’s argument that the grievance should be denied because it did not realize any cost savings from the waiver, the Arbitrator found that the collective bargaining agreement did not require cost savings to occur as a precondition to the waiver.

Upper Saucon Township, LAIG 6716 (Buchheit, 2009).

This article appears in the July 2009 issue