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Today, call center workers at Maximus, a federal contractor that employs one of the largest federally-contracted workforces in the country under a contract with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), won lower health care costs that will take effect in April. The sky-high deductible of $4,500 for Maximus’ core plan was cut almost in half, to $2,500, and premiums for several plans were decreased, leaving more money in workers’ paychecks.
The announcement comes after Communications Workers of America (CWA) unveiled a report finding that Maximus’ health plans were both more expensive and saddled workers with higher out-of-pocket costs than comparable plans available through employers and on the ACA marketplace. This meant that call center workers who are dedicated to helping everyday Americans access quality, affordable health care coverage could not afford quality care themselves. Maximus had increased workers’ plan deductible to $4,500 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Maximus workers, who are organizing with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) to win better working conditions and a voice on the job, say there is more to be done. Workers are calling for Maximus to stop campaigning against their union, to end all anti-union portions of new-hire trainings, and to meet with their workers union organizing committee.
In addition, Maximus workers ask that Maximus provide high quality masks while on-the-job, offer more work-from-home opportunities, notify employees when there’s a COVID case in the building, perform contact tracing to better help staff know their risk level, conduct in-person trainings that are socially distanced and masked, and provide five days of paid leave if an employee tests positive for COVID.
“This is a groundbreaking win,” said Sheree Collier, a Maximus call center worker in Hattiesburg, Miss., “ which goes to prove when we work together in solidarity we can make things happen. This lowered deductible will translate into thousands of dollars in savings for me and my coworkers. We are celebrating today, but will continue the fight until we win our union and the right to bargain for better pay, healthcare, and the respect we deserve.”
“Workers at Maximus have demonstrated the power of collective action by standing up for the affordable health care and dignity they deserve,” said CWA President Chris Shelton. “Forcing Maximus management to reduce health care costs will make a tremendous difference in these workers' lives, and it would not have happened without their hard work and courage. But the only way to ensure that management doesn't shift costs back to the workers after the attention fades is through a binding collective bargaining agreement. CWA will stand with Maximus workers and their families every step of the way until they win their union and negotiate a strong first contract.”