$7,000 health insurance deductible key issue
By SHERI GASSAWAY
Teamsters Local 618 members are on strike at the Valvoline St. Louis Direct Market over a shocking healthcare change that requires out-of-pocket deductibles as high as $7,000.
About 25 members are employed at the plant at 3536 S. 1st St. in St. Louis as drivers, material handlers, packers, warehouse leads and blenders. The strike began March 1 after several failed negotiations on the three-year contract and federal mediation.
Local 618 Principal Officer Derek Kropp said while Valvoline pays for employee health insurance premiums, the out-of-pocket costs associated with the plans have been rising over the last few contracts.
‘LARGEST INCREASE EVER IMPOSED’
“This is the largest increase ever imposed for a deductible through their health insurance,” Kropp said. “We have families with kids that never reach $7,000 a year in healthcare expenses. The deductible is outrageous.”
Kropp said Local 618 has tried to get Valvoline to provide the members with insurance through the Teamsters healthcare plan, which would be a huge savings, but company officials won’t budge on the matter.
JOB ACTION AT ST. JAMES OIL PLANT
Since workers went on strike, the St. Louis Valvoline plant has closed. Local 618 discovered that the company was storing some of its St. Louis trucks and products at the St. James Oil Co. in St. James, Mo.
On March 10, Local 618 members held a job action at the St. James plant for being an ally to Valvoline and stealing their work. Fellow Teamsters Joint Council 13 members, including those from Locals 6, 600, 610, 682 and 688, joined Local 618 members in support.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Local 618 is welcoming assistance on the strike line at the Valvoline plant at 3536 S. 1st St. in St. Louis and any other support fellow union members would like to provide.