Teachers Lose Out on Healthcare Benefits


FUDTA’s Written Settlement with FUSD, detailing reimbursement information.

On September 12, 2022 Fremont Unified District Teachers Association (FUDTA) held a meeting to communicate the settlement reached with Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) regarding the Minimum Employer Contribution (MEC) ordered by Section 22892 of the Public Employees’ Medical and Hospital Care Act (PEMHCA). PEMHCA states that the employer (FUSD) must annually adjust their healthcare contribution to the medical care aspect of the Consumer Price Index-Urban (Inflation Rate), to keep up with the state of the economy. 

FUSD is legally obligated to provide their employees the fringe benefit of healthcare premium coverage. According to the Minimum Employer Contribution (MEC), FUSD must contribute to the employee’s healthcare cost ranging from $16/month in 1997 to $143/month in 2021 based on adjusted inflation prices.
However, as of July 21, 2021, FUSD was reported for failing to uphold the MEC requirements and not paying employees their healthcare share since 1997. “It was a payroll error and nobody caught it,” said Ms. Brannin Dorsey, FUDTA President.
25 years later, on August 3, 2022, FUDTA and FUSD came to a settlement to reimburse FUDTA members who paid their FUSD healthcare premium fees out of their own pockets during the 4-year period between October 28, 2017 and October 31, 2021. 

“The district’s offer was four years of back pay [reimbursement] because it was a contract violation. The attorneys did not think we would get anything better than that,” claimed Dorsey. 

FUSD is not legally obligated to reimburse any money before the listed time period, due to a three-year Statute of Limitations for payroll errors in California. However, several affected teachers are hesitant to accept the payments, feeling .
“Member choice is what’s most important to us, we didn’t want to force members to take the settlement if they didn’t want it,” said Dorsey. “We made our settlement an opt-in meaning that you have to sign that you wanted to be in this [FUDTA settlement], and if you did not sign then you retained your rights to sue the district.”

“I have been a part of the district healthcare plan since 1995,” said 9th-grade science teacher, Mr. Daniel Pearce. “I didn’t accept the FUDTA settlement. I just want what I am owed by the district—nothing more, nothing less.” 

With this agreement, Mr. Pearce, a veteran teacher who’s been teaching at Irvington for over 25 years, would not be reimbursed for the sum of money he was forced to pay out-of-pocket from 1997 to 2017.

For some teachers, the settlement was satisfactory, compared to no reimbursement at all. “I have been a part of the district healthcare plan for 22 years. said Algebra 2/Intro to Stats teacher Ms. Suzanne Eicher. I opted into the 4 years settlement because it is dangerous to do a class action [lawsuit] and I might have ended up with nothing if I didn’t,” 

The grand total of the reimbursement during the 4 year period would be $6,582. Depending on when a FUDTA teacher joined the district healthcare plan, some are affected by the repercussions of FUSD’s failure to abide by the MEC law to different degrees. A teacher who joined the district in 2017 will be reimbursed the entire amount; however, a teacher who is a part of the district before 2017 has no way to recover their money.  Many teachers at Irvington and in FUSD decide to opt out of the district healthcare plan to begin with, making them unaffected by the situation. “Some teachers get healthcare through their spouse or partner,” says AP Government teacher Ms. Shiantel Fields. “A lot of teachers can simply go to Covered California and buy their own health care plans because it’s overall cheaper than the district health care.”
FUSD hasn’t responded to The Voice with their comment on the situation yet.