Levy County firefighters and commissioners are bumping heads over healthcare.
In September 2017, the Levy County Internationational Association of Firefighters Union learned its members would no longer receive full health benefits for their families.
“So far we are making it,” Chris Castleberry, a county firefighter, said. “But we are working toward not having to work more overtime and spend more time away from my family to be able to just provide health insurance.”
County coordinator Wilbur Dean says the board cannot control the rising costs of health insurance. He said ultimately a first responder’s family insurance is not the county’s responsibility.
“The county will provide coverage for the employees,” Dean said. “Nowhere in there does it say we will provide coverage for the family plans.”
The association’s president said the union filed a grievance in September after learning of the change. The president says the union was not included in the decision-making process.
Union representatives say the highest amount cut from the health insurance was about $6,000, an amount difficult to make up — even with overtime.
The union had a meeting with Dean on Tuesday about the healthcare cuts. The organization wants the county to supplement healthcare costs by giving each firefighter an extra $1,000 per year in wages. Nothing was decided, but the union says they’re making progress.