AEA Sues Teachers' Health Insurance Provider, Gulf Coast Restaurant Hit With Labor Fines

May 18, 2016

Street's Seafood Restaurant, Bay Minette, Ala.

The Alabama Education Association is taking public school teachers’ insurance provider to court.

The group says the Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan, or PEEHIP, violated Alabama’s open meetings law. Late last month, the PEEHIP board approved massive premium and rate hikes which teachers say will wipe out their first pay increase in nine years. AEA says the rate hikes were decided during a secret board meeting, which violates state law.

Sheila Remington is the President of the AEA and the plaintiff in the lawsuit. She explains her position.

“Mainly I want the opportunity to have some questions answered. I would want the opportunity for our experts here and any experts in the state to look at those finances and say ‘Here’s some alternatives to this increase.’”

The teacher insurance provider says the premium increase is necessary to cover rising healthcare costs.

The Retirement Systems of Alabama oversees PEEHIP. They say the meeting was an informational work session and is perfectly legal.

A popular restaurant on Alabama’s Gulf Coast is paying about $43,000 in federal labor violations.

The Department of Labor announced the violations and penalties against Street's Seafood Restaurant in Bay Minette yesterday. The restaurant is a fixture for tourists traveling to Alabama's most popular beaches.

The U.S. Department of Labor says four underage workers were illegally required to operate and clean a meat slicer and drive a catering vehicle. Some workers were also allegedly paid $6 an hour, below the required minimum wage of $7.25, and were improperly compensated for overtime.

The Labor Department says Street's will pay $28,577 in minimum wage and overtime back wages and damages. There's also a civil penalty of $14,125 for the child labor violations.

Street’s Restaurant has not commented on the Department of Labor report.

The Alabama Department of Transportation is getting ready for the beginning of hurricane season on June 1. Drivers in South Alabama will be seeing more workers along Interstate 65 today.

Josh Phillips is a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Transportation. He says they will be conducting a drill to practice reversing the traffic flow between Mobile and Montgomery.

“It’s an exercise to help us prepare for an event that would cause an evacuation, that we call contraflow. We would take I-65 and use all lanes to flow northward away from the coast in the event of a hurricane or something like that.”

Traffic won't be affected, and drivers will stay in their normal lanes. But workers will do a dress rehearsal of the actions needed to make the southbound lanes flow northward.