In a recent letter to the editor of Isthmus, KJ Jakobson asks “whether the new joint district-union task force for investigating health insurance costs be a truly collaborative effort to solve a very costly problem? Or will it instead end up being a collusion to maintain the status quo?”
Here is the full text of the letter, published on August 10, 2005, and her challenge to the Madison School Board.
A Conflict of Interest
John Matthews would like us to believe that he was fully cleared in 1994 of any conflict of interest concerning his dual role as Madison Teachers Inc. union official and board member of Wisconsin Physicians Service (“District Ties to WPS Prove Costly”, Isthmus, 6/10/05). This is not the case.
On February 1, 1994, then Commissioner of Insurance Josephine Musser stated in a letter to school board member Nancy Mistele that her office did not address numerous concerns that Mistele had raised, including “conflict of interest issues which may arise under labor law or raise questions as a matter of public policy” and “the reciprocal concern of a potential conflict of interest by a union official who is involved in negotiating coverage for union membership”.
Musser suggested that the Madison school district “may wish to give serious attention to a number of questions, which are not within the scope of this office’s authority” and that the district may want “to seek further clarification of this issue” from the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.
I have been unable to uncover any documentation in the WERC database that the school board ever followed up on Musser’s suggestions. I believe it is time to do so.
Given the history of Matthews holding health insurance hostage at the bargaining table and the district not raising a serious challenge in recent years, Matthews’ allegiance to WPS makes me wonder: Will the new joint district-union task force for investigating health insurance costs be a truly collaborative effort to solve a very costly problem? Or will it instead end up being a collusion to maintain the status quo?