EVANSVILLE, INDIANA — It has been a contentious few months in Evansville over a debate about the city’s new health insurance plan, which will significantly increase health care costs for city employees. The city’s Fraternal Order of Police and the Firefighters Union have been fighting the change, with its attorney asking for an injunction to stop the plan from taking place.
“I’ve done my work and now it’s up to the parties to take it from here,” Vanderburgh Superior Court Judge Les Shively said.
Judge Shively issued his decision Tuesday morning – the injunction was denied.
“The ball is in their court to decide what they’re going to do,” he said.
The mayor’s office released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying it was pleased with the judge’s decision. But the plaintiff’s attorney, Charlie Berger, was also claiming the decision as a victory.
“I lost. I didn’t get my injunction,” he said. “But my clients won big today.”
The reason for their victory – a second part of Shively’s judgment ordering both sides back into wage negotiations.
“The contract says you have to accommodate those changes,” Berger said. “And how you accommodate them is you sit back down and you talk about what their wages should be.”
In the past, city employees would trade lower pay raises in return for lower insurance costs. Now with health insurance rising, Berger hopes salaries do too.
“I’m sure they’re going to focus on how much they’ve given up to what that’s cost them, which has been lost by this unilateral changes,” Berger said.
The two sides have been ordered to resume negotiations within 30 days with both sides saying they’re willing to sit down soon.
With the injunction denied, the city’s healthcare plan will take effect January 1st.