“Employers understand the importance of properly managing health insurance costs and so does LIUNA,” says LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman and NEA – the Association of Union Constructors Executive Vice President Noel C. Borck, speaking of workers’ compensation and health care insurance. “That’s why we’ve made these issues our focus for the next Tri-Fund Conference.”

The annual conference, scheduled this year for February 12-17 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, brings together LIUNA leaders, signatory employers, training fund directors, health and welfare fund administrators and regional/state market analysts to discuss key issues facing the union and its management partners in the year ahead.

It is organized by the LIUNA Tri-Funds, each jointly managed by trustees from both the union and its signatory employers. Health and safety is addressed by the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA); training and education are the domain of the Laborers-AGC Education and Training Fund (Laborers-AGC); and jobs and market share are the province of the Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust (LECET).

In addition to several plenary sessions, the conference will feature workshop tracks organized by each fund. The LHSFNA will offer two tracks, one on workers’ compensation insurance and the other on the health care cost crisis.

Recognizing that these two skyrocketing health-related costs undermine both profits and pay raises, LIUNA and its management partners are initiating efforts to put the pressure back on the health care system, itself. “After all,” says Borck, “it’s the health care system that’s raised prices, forced us to pay and made off with the profits.”

One in every eight dollars spent in the United States is spent on health care, about half again as much as in other industrialized nations. And, despite the widespread adoption of “managed care” in the mid-nineties, costs continue to rise at double-digit rates.

“Some of the cost increases are embedded in American culture and habits,” says Borck. “Our health and welfare funds are working hard to re-train LIUNA members and their families to be more health conscious in their personal habits and more thoughtful about their health care choices. Also, where possible, LIUNA and local contractor associations have negotiated alternative dispute resolution agreements to improve the way on-the-job, workers’ compensation injuries and illnesses are managed. We’ve made a lot of progress in both areas, but we need to summarize some of the insights so that we can broaden and further systematize our response. Sharing lessons will be our fund’s chief purpose at the conference.”

Borck and the Fund’s Labor Co-Chairman, Armand E. Sabitoni – who is LIUNA’s General Secretary Treasurer and its New England Regional Manager – joined in urging all LIUNA local officials, health and welfare fund administrators, trustees and the owners and safety officials of LIUNA signatory employers to attend the conference.

Aside from the cost of the hotel room, the conference is free for LIUNA officials, signatory contractors, health and welfare fund administrators and the trustees of any of the Tri-Funds. To register, complete and return the registration form.