Thursday, March 26, 2009

Click and send your gripes to your leaders.

I made some more calls today to see if I could get more definitive answers regarding the status of our Insurance fiasco. I called the California Department of Insurance and talked with a guy named Perry who let me know that since our company was "self insured" his department did not have jurisdiction over our issue. I asked whose jurisdiction or something to that affect and the conversation went down hill from there. Why do these people working for public agencies have a huge chip on their shoulders? He did give me the The U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-275-7922. From there you can go through prompts and talk to........nobody. You will have to leave a message due to their "high volume" of calls. I left my message with a Danya and have not been called back. I called the number again and asked if I could talk to a real person and please don't put me on hold ........while she disconnected me. I called the San Francisco office which again led me through prompts that directed you to a voice mail box to ask a question. Get this......the voice mail box was full! So I could not leave a message. A wasted day of futility.

Last night I was on hold for the entire Mike Thompson phone town hall meeting to address the pulp mill insurance issue, but they never called my name! What another waste.

So it has been suggested by some workers and their families to e-mail their political leaders. To some this is an intimidating process, so I will try to make this easy. Just Click on the links (on their names) I am posting and it will lead you to those listed:

Bonnie Neely: She is county Supervisor for the 4th District, which is where the Pulp Mill is. Just click on the link to send her an e-mail.

Wes Chesbro: Our newly elected 1st District Assembly person.

Patricia Wiggins: Is our 2 Senate District Representative.

Rep. Mike Thompson: Our Congressman from the Congressional 1st District.

Just drop a line and say how things are affecting you. We could all do a "form" letter, but I think individual stories hit home harder.

I would also like to ask/plead that all other Humboldt County residents to use this forum to let our leaders know we need to protect workers rights, even if we are not currently working.


Michelle said...

Richard, thank you. This is perfect and easy to use. I would also suggest that they call as well. Our Represenatives get busy when they are being bothered. A weekly call or a daily/e-mail is a real bother to these people. I do not know if any of them are coming up for re-election but just a thought to mention to them that they are voted in by us. Again, thank you for informing us here for doing most of the hard work.

Anonymous said...

Why call government offices when you don't know that your situation is a public matter?

It seems to me your issue concerns the terms of the settlement agreement that the union signed to release the lien. The lawyer who wrote the agreement is the correct person to direct your first questions to.

Anonymous said...

I am going to attempt to give you the readers digest version of what has taken place in regards to Evergreen Pulp Inc. and their medical plan.

Evergreen Pulp Inc., like lots of larger employers chose to self-fund their employee health benefits plan. Evergreen Pulp had been self-insured for years. The risk to self-insure is reduced by purchasing re-insurance. Their re-insurance took any claim over $60,000 in their plan year. Western Self-Insurance Service (WSIS) of which I am the owner, administered this medical plan. The plan works like a fully funded insurance plan. An employee has a service done at a hospital or doctor office, we receive, adjudicate and pay the claims. Here at WSIS we pay claims weekly. Its a simple process when we can actually pay the claims. Evergreen Pulp Inc. stopped funding the bank account to pay their claims on the first week of December 2008. We were assured that although most of the employees had been terminated/laid off that they had every intention on keeping the plan funded. The plan was terminated December 31st 2008. Claims can take months after the time of service to get to our office and to complicate manners our office had just taken the account over from the previous administrator located in Illinois. Claims kept getting mailed to the previous administrator causing even longer than usual delays. I communicated the increasing weekly totals to the President on down to the HR department. They kept telling me that the parent company (Lee and Man Paper) owed them money.

During the month of December 2008 and January 2009, the mill was in negotiations to be purchased. Everyone who was owed money, placed liens to get paid. I consulted with my attorney and it was made clear that we could not put a lien on the money owed because they did not owe WSIS. They owed the money to each individual provider. By this time the liens outweighed the value of the sale by a large sum. In the mean time I was contacting the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers Local 49 (AWPPW) who represent the 200+ employees informing them that they would be responsible for this accumulating debt as individuals. I also contacted the prospective buyers to see if this debt was to be included in the sale. It was not, but the new owner agreed that the employees should not be saddled with the debt. After a meeting with the new owners and the AWPPW Local 49 president, it was determined that this new venture now called Freshwater Pulp would provide funds not to exceed $300K to pay for claims which at that time totaled just under $280K. In addition the new owners would provide a piece of equipment valued at $130K to be sold to take care of anticipated additional claims. Here is the kicker. These funds would only be released "if and when the mill becomes fully operational". The latest news to come from the new owners is that the pulp mill will probably not be brought back for at least two years. This has triggered the providers to start demanding payment for these bills from the individuals.

In my efforts to keep this communication as brief as possible, I will not go into the details of the conversations that we have here on a daily basis with folks who are faced with these bills. I know of 7 employees who owe more than $15k, two who owe more than $30K and lots who owe more than $2K. It is causing folks to file bankruptcy and or lose their homes. It is very difficult to be the person telling these folks that they have been screwed by Evergreen Pulp and are 100% responsible to pay these claims. The total debt is now around $360K. It is truly a hardship for all involved, especially an unemployed mill worker with a bill that is impossible for them to pay.

In short, Lee and Man Paper purchased this mill and had 100% of the pulp production barged to their plant in China. For a couple of years they paid Evergreen Pulp (owned by Lee and Man) for this product. When the pulp market softened, they spun Evergreen Pulp into some sort of offshore corporation. They withheld payment for the final load of pulp, essentially breaking the company and then sold what was left. It is a crime in my eyes, but I understand these type of business tactics happen from time to time. In all of the bail out stories and appropriation of funds I thought there may be something that our government could do to protect these folks from an economic catastrophe. A catastrophe cause by a company that is still doing business in the United States and caused devastating effects in a small community like Humboldt County. Liz, I truly appreciate you conveying this story to Mike and I hope that there is something that he can do.

If you need any more information or if there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to call.

Thank you.

Jeff Pauli
Western Self-Insurance Service
619 5th St.
Eureka, Ca. 95501

707.445.5496 Office
707.445.5498 Fax

lodgepole said...

Dude....GET IT TOGETHER!!! Your ignorance is painful at this point.

It appears you have been given a fish each day of your life, but have no idea whatsoever how to fish.

Anonymous said...

While I appreciate your situation, it sounds to me like the people working for the public agencies aren't the only ones that have a chip on their shoulder. Try being self-employed and paying for your own health insurance like me. The monthly premiums are staggering, and the only way to make it even reasonably affordable is to have a very high deductible. My deductible is $7,000, so I can't afford that $4,500 colonoscopy that all my 50 something peers have been getting recently. It's not just unscrupulous employers that are to balme here. The insurance companies and our government are to blame for our nation's health insurance woes.

Anonymous said...

What other country on earth wants you to pay $4,000.00 to stick it in your _________?