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Wednesday, June 29, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesTOBACCO SETTLEMENT DEBATE CONTINUES

TOBACCO SETTLEMENT DEBATE CONTINUES

The dispute between organized labor and other interests over how the territory should use the proceeds of the tobacco settlement continued Tuesday as Sen. Allie Allison Petrus called for the full amount of the funds to be earmarked for health care.
St. Thomas-St.John Federation of Teachers President Glen J. Smith, in a letter to all members of the Senate, suggested the legislature
stay with its earlier commitment to divide the money equally between the Union Arbitration and Increment Fund and health interests.
In return, Smith pledged to use the unions' share of the money to defray the cost of health insurance premiums for their members, or to set up a fund to pay insurance deductibles or reimburse co-payments for prescription drugs. Smith believes either option should satisfy those demanding that 100 percent of the settlement monies be used toward health care.
But Petrus said the amount to individual union members was paltry.
"When you calculate what the 50 percent amounts to, its an insult to offer this limited money to the unions," he said.
He explained that the $500,000 that would be earmarked for the unions would amount to $2.38 per government employee each pay period. "Should we insult hard-working government employees by providing this pittance or would this money not be better spent in health care costs?" Petrus asked.
Petrus is expected to amend the existing proposal to reflect 100 percent use of the funds to health care during Friday's Finance Committee meeting.

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The dispute between organized labor and other interests over how the territory should use the proceeds of the tobacco settlement continued Tuesday as Sen. Allie Allison Petrus called for the full amount of the funds to be earmarked for health care.
St. Thomas-St.John Federation of Teachers President Glen J. Smith, in a letter to all members of the Senate, suggested the legislature
stay with its earlier commitment to divide the money equally between the Union Arbitration and Increment Fund and health interests.
In return, Smith pledged to use the unions' share of the money to defray the cost of health insurance premiums for their members, or to set up a fund to pay insurance deductibles or reimburse co-payments for prescription drugs. Smith believes either option should satisfy those demanding that 100 percent of the settlement monies be used toward health care.
But Petrus said the amount to individual union members was paltry.
"When you calculate what the 50 percent amounts to, its an insult to offer this limited money to the unions," he said.
He explained that the $500,000 that would be earmarked for the unions would amount to $2.38 per government employee each pay period. "Should we insult hard-working government employees by providing this pittance or would this money not be better spent in health care costs?" Petrus asked.
Petrus is expected to amend the existing proposal to reflect 100 percent use of the funds to health care during Friday's Finance Committee meeting.