Friday, April 30, 2021

Retiree Advocate/UFT Calls for MLC Moratorium on health care modifaction negotiations until greater transparency; Will Host Sunday eve info/action Zoom at 7PM

RA/UFT  is sending the following letter to the Municipal Labor Committee: 
 
To: Harry Nespoli, Chair, MLC
CC: Michael Mulgrew

The members of Retiree Advocate/UFT strongly object to the lack of transparency over the process in awarding contracts to one of two finalists in the proposed transfer of 250,000 retirees out of Medicare and into a privatized Medicare Advantage plan.

Until there is complete transparency regarding the process, with full information to those affected by this decision,  Retiree Advocate/UFT calls for the Municipal Labor Committee to declare a moratorium on this move due to the deleterious effect it will have on NYC retirees.

Retiree Advocate/UFT

I've been part of Retiree Advocate/UFT Organizers. We spent the past few months preparing a platform and a slate to challenge Unity Caucus in the upcoming UFT retiree chapter elections (ballots go out in about 10 days - if you are a retiree check the Retiree Advocate slate). We have 130 retirees running and could have had 300 to fill the entire slate but were running out of time.

Then a few weeks ago, just as we were meeting the UFT deadline for sending in our leaflet that will be sent out with the ballot, we began hearing about these negotiations going on behind our backs about pushing us all into a privatized version of our much beloved Medicare - which everyone should have but is opposed by our unions and the Democratic Party which are so tied to privatized insurance corporations that I sometimes wonder what they are getting out of it -- well, the Dems get massive donations but exactly what are the unions getting? I'll let you speculate on that in your spare time.

Once we were able to gear up and zoom meet - between our doctor appointments - possibly soon to disappear when our docs don't take the Advantage plans -- a plan of resistance began to formulate - and we forsee the battle continuing even if they make this change because we expect they might make things look good initially before the chopping block comes when people are no longer watching.

Someone in another union sent us a missive from the MLC chair Nespoli that MLC  washolding a steering committee meeting Monday, May 3 and a full committee meeting on Wednesday May 5. It is not clear if they will actually vote. Hearing this sparked our moratorium letter to Nespoli and the MLC.

Then we hear that Mulgrew is holding a meeting for retirees on Tuesday May 4 -- hmmmmmm.

COMRO Objects
A similar letter to ours was sent to the MLC on March 14 by COMRO -- what is COMRO? The Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations which includes the UFT which is represented by one of the UFT founders George Altomare who we assume was involved in sending an open letter published in the Labor Press
An Open Letter to Mayor de Blasio and the Municipal Labor Committee:
The Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations (COMRO) has learned that you are in the process of awarding a highly lucrative contract to a major health insurance company to take over administering health insurance for over 200,000 Medicare-eligible retirees effective this July 1. You released an RFP and have eliminated two of the four responders. Your technical committee is evaluating the two finalists and will shortly send their recommendations to you for a final vote. 
Nowhere in this process have you consulted with the 200,000 people and their families to determine how it will help or harm us. Medicare Part B works very well for most of us. We contributed to Medicare during our years of employment with the tacit understanding that we will have the hard-earned entitlement when we turned 65. Now we are dependent on the kindness of strangers to maintain our health and wellbeing without additional cost. We are duly concerned that these types of managed care programs have a history of making it difficult to choose doctors and specialists by introducing bureaucratic hurdles. 
The lack of transparency in your rush to change this program is both insulting and frightening to those of us who have collectively worked millions of years serving the people of New York City. How can we trust our very health to a backroom deal based on a dubious assumption of cost avoidance? 
Before this contract is awarded, you must include actual Part B recipients in the evaluation process to ensure any change in Medicare Part B will not harm us.

 

RA Sunday night (May 2) Info/Action Zoom at 7 PM

We expected 35 or so but so far registration has gone over 100 and we may have to buy an extended ZOOM package or stream live to FB for the overflow. You can still register:

Make sure to register early for our Zoom event this Sunday.

Retiree Advocate/UFT invites you to a Zoom Meeting
                                     Sunday  May 2 at 7PM

*******************************************************************************
       Is Our Medicare Being Privatized into        
                      Medicare Advantage?
              Information, Discussion, Action
**************************************************************************************


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Don't be gaslit - Medicare Advantage Horror Story

...the most important fact to keep in mind is that insurance companies are in business to make profits. The more the better. So after all the expenses of doing business they have, they have to keep the shareholders happy by having great profits. Their customers have to pay for profits. The medical costs they are responsible for paying is not a happy event for them.  ---- Facebook correspondent

Their all in cahoots - add unions

My wife worked in the medical billing field for decades and always pointed to Medicare govt run plan as being the most efficient and cost saving while private companies delayed payment and had lots of people working there who were not as capable as the professionalism of medicare people.

The thing to understand is that Medicare Advantage plans are private but have created purposeful confusion by taking the medicare name and attaching a new label. And they pay less than public medicare so many doctors won't take advantage plans. It's very like the old HIP which we always had an option to take but most of us didn't because of the permissions, limited docs, etc.

Here's what I wonder - if we had medicare for all this issue wouldn't even be on the table but the unions like the UFT are adamantly against it. So what is the advantage to unions to support a plan that fucks up so many people? Is there some sort of quid quo pro for the leaderships from private insurance since it seems like such a no brainer to end the profit system of health care?

I saw this on FB and it's not the first I heard of delays on getting to doctors when having to go through the primary physician gatekeeper who can stop you in your tracks if he doesn't approve.

I’m married to a man who is a retired NY teacher, so this change will impact me. 
 
Having been covered by a Medicare Advantage plan before we married, I can tell you the blah blah corporate speak is baloney. 
 
Here are some facts to think about.
 
Administering the Medicare program costs 2%, while private insurance companies pay between 12 and 18% to administer their programs. The insurance companies also have the expenses of paying executives high salaries and bonuses, country club memberships and expenses, and whatever other perks they get, and paying dividends to their shareholders. How can they possibly claim it will cost the insured less? Less of the premiums paid will go for medical care, that’s for sure. 
 
When the people negotiating the programs say the retirees will have better medical care, that is like sprinkling fairy dust on our brains. You can’t call a specialist and make an appointment. You have to see your primary care doctor and get his approval to do that, and he has to give the doctor you want to see a referral. Some offices are less efficient than others, and your referral may not get to the specialist. 
 
You can’t go to a hospital without going through the same thing unless it’s an emergency situation. You can’t get a test or procedure or surgery or anything out of an ordinary office visit without getting a referral. The specialist cannot order these things for you. It has to be your primary care physician, who is not an expert in anything. 
 
My late husband and I had a Humana advantage plan, and I’m convinced it caused his death. 
 
He became ill with a cough and his physician treated him for post nasal drip. He was getting worse instead of better. We wanted to go to a pulmonologist, but specialists cost the primary care physicians money (a great incentive to keep costs for the insurance companies down), so he wouldn’t approve it. Finally, when we were in the office one day after several months of worry, I loudly, with a waiting room filled with patients, shouted, “My husband is getting more and more sick and is losing weight like crazy, and I don’t see any concern from you. Look at him! He has to see a pulmonologist!” The doctor said “His lungs are clear.” I said “I’m sitting 10 feet away from him and I can hear him wheezing from here! Don’t tell me it’s post nasal drip!” He listened to his lungs with a stethoscope and finally agreed to give him the referral. Of course, when we went to the pulmonologist, they hadn’t received it, but their staff made a phone call and had it sent over. But that kind of stress is what we had to deal with when we were dealing with lung cancer. And that wasn’t the end of it. My husband had many, many scans, endoscopies and biopsies without finding a single cancer cell, all while he had advanced lung cancer and his chest kept filling with fluid. 
 
Don’t let them subject you to this. You deserve better, which you have now.

 

April 28, 2021 - Democracy Prep Charter Founder Seth Andrew Stole YOUR money -

A former senior adviser in the Obama administration was arrested Tuesday on charges that he stole more than $200,000 from a network of charter schools that he founded and used the money to get a lower interest rate on a mortgage for a Manhattan apartment, federal prosecutors said. The founder, Seth Andrew, 42, is accused of taking money from bank accounts controlled by Democracy Prep Public Schools, which teaches mostly low-income students of color in New York and other states, and used it for the purchase of a $2 million apartment, prosecutors said. ..NYT, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/27/us/seth-andrew-fraud-money-laundering-charter-school.html

Today's NY Times has a piece about Seth Andrew using charter school money to buy an apartment in NYC. That money is public funds used to fund charters. The NY Times has its own funny way of framing things with this headline: Former White House Adviser Is Charged With Stealing From Charter School Network

Now I know about good old Seth since he started the Democracy Prep charter scam in 2005 when the public floodgates opened to charters. He even left some whiny comments on some of my blog posts over the years. And of course Obama, the ed deformer in chief, hired him to deform education around the nation. He spent a few hours teaching in Korea before becoming an ed expert in his early 20s.

Now while Democracy Prep claims they were the victims, it is actually the public that was the victim since the money Seth stole really came from public funds. And it further exposes the charter scam that it is about making money, not about the kids.

As always, Ed Notes was on his and Dem Prep's case> Here are a few articles I wrote about Seth Andrew, including a visit I made to a public school housing one of his schools.

2011: Stop Democracy Prep Charter Takeover of PS 197M in Harlem

Democracy Prep Streamrolls PS 197: Hats Off to Antoine Bogard for Leading the Resistance- Where was the UFT?

 
July 17, 2013
August 12, 2013

ED NOTES Aug. 27, 2014 :

Charter Angst: Democracy Prep Parent Ready to Pull Child After 5 Days

All I see every morning and evening is this tall man dressed in bright clothing yelling at the parents every single day since school started... parent at Democracy Prep

DP founder Seth Andrew - or Eva Moskowitz in drag
Oh the joy in this comment on another beloved crooked charter, especially with today's news (see Perdido) about Eva Moskowitz and her move to the financial district - call it "Wall St. Empire" - which might make a good HBO series to follow the gangster-ridden "Boardwalk Empire" - with Eva playing a gun moll who makes Steve Buscemi's character look like a nun.

----

On September 2, 2013 I wrote:

On the Democracy Prep Plantation: When Zero Tolerance Becomes Psychological Warfare

UPDATED:
  • all the teachers at this charter school are white and from out of state. The school's administrators did manage to get two coaches that are African-American from the New York City area. They are the two in charge of the detention room. Is there something wrong with that picture?.....
  • his teachers were directed to video tape him in every classroom. One of the teachers according to him followed him with a camera into the lunch room when he went to pick up his lunch, followed him up the stairs into the hallway and continued videotaping him while he was eating lunch.....
  • It's time to examine the police state structure of some of the charter schools model in the minority community in New York... Former Democracy Prep mother
Ahhh, that ole' plantation mentality at Democracy Prep. Message to Seth Andrew: Don't tick off a parent who is a professional journalist.

Gary Rubinstein pointed out just how bad the Democracy Prep (relative to public schools despite their significant advantages) test scores were in this post: Petrilli’s Desperate Attempt To Save Democracy Prep’s Reputation.  Now, as Gary says, I don't view school success and failure based on test scores. But if charters are going to make big claims based on the scores, then die by the sword. Especially when they set up a regressive "zero tolerance" situation (when there are so many progressive means of discipline, like restorative justice.

another parent who removed her child from Democracy Prep (from their point of view: mission accomplished).

Extracting high test scores at Success 
And even with these policies they still had horrible test scores. Eva is smarter at extracting high scores I guess. Has anyone checked to see if kids at Success
Academy schools still have their fingernails?

 

 

 

 

Here is the article from the Times:

Seth Andrew, who served in the Obama administration, stole more than $200,000 to help him buy a $2 million Manhattan apartment, prosecutors said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/27/us/seth-andrew-fraud-money-laundering-charter-school.html

 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

UFT Retiree Mocks Retiree Chapter Leadership over presentations (or lack thereof) on coming health care changes

New comment on your post "Municipal Healthcare Retirees kept in dark by UFT

I'm closing my eyes and trying to imagine how nice it would have been to ask what an RFP is. Or how smooth and sexy "white glove concierge service" feels (while you're bleeding dollars and trying to find a specialist). 

Or to have screamed "Medicare Advantage? Are you kidding me?!!!" 

But alas, it's just a fantasy because, incredibly, after thirteen months (that's 13) there is still ZERO member interaction during remote RTC meetings. 

ZERO. 

NADA. 

NOTHING. 

Thirteen months and a lifetime of Zooms. 

Thirteen months and the UFT IT department at your disposal. Still too complicated I suppose; haven't worked the bugs out. 

Don't worry kid, that color TV is just around the corner. No motions, no good and welfare, no resolutions, no chat, no debate, no questions, no answers, no satisfaction, no nothing. 

Just one big infomercial.

  The retiree natives are restless as the wires have been burning up since the news broke over proposed changes that would force medicare recipient retirees into an HMO where they would be forced to use only those doctors with all other kinds of paperwork bulwarks to treatment. I mean you don't save billions by INCREASING services. With UFT retiree chapter elections coming in a few weeks I wonder if word would spread enough about the union's betrayals to increase the Retiree Advocate/UFT Caucus votes this time? In the winner take all system, Unity gets all 300 delegates to the DA while we get NADA. Oh, we asked for a courtesy 5 delegates so at least our voters get some representation and were refused. UFT dues without representation. And I would extend that idea that we get no representatin at the AFT and NYSUT in their winner take all where they elect 750 and even if we got 49% would still get nothing. It seems there is a potential law suit about paying dues without getting representation but as I've preached in the past, first show you can get near 40% of the vote and then sue.

Or have a UF-T party.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Municipal Healthcare Retirees kept in dark by UFT Leaders over coming forced medicare advantage plans

The negotiations are taking place in virtual secret. This lack of transparency is happening with the full knowledge of the various union leaderships, including the UFT. Retirees of the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), just this week, their Delegate Assembly passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on these negotiations and for ”voices of municipal retirees to be heard”.

We're hearing from UFT retirees who haven't been in touch as a


horror film of sorts unfolds for all municipal retirees under Medicare (65 and above) which can lead to them losing access to their doctors and paying high fees. The important thing to understand is that our own union leaders have been engaging in secret negotiations and are about to spring it all on us. At the most recent retiree chapter meeting, our Retiree Advocate/UFT caucus that is challenging the retiree Unity Caucus in the upcoming retiree election, had the item put on the agenda and Mulgew was one of the guest speakers.

Here are two reports from the UFT Retiree Chapter meeting, April 14, 2021:

Unity seems a little shaken that the MLC/Medicare negotiation is out of the bag. So, according to Mulgrew, anything the MLC negotiates will be the best thing ever, because anything he touches turns to gold. He is very smart! And according to Sorkin:
  • Yes, a Medicare Advantage plan is on the table... but don't you worry, you silly people! This is not yesterday's old-fashioned, crappy Medicare Advantage plan (the kind we always told you scary stories about); this is today's shiny!, brand new!, awesome! Medicare Advantage plan! What are you, an old fogey? Get with the program. This is modern! This is a "White glove, concierge service!
  • What's more, the plan is more of a PPO, rather than HMO plan. (You got that? The letters are different!)
  • Part B & IRMAA reimbursements are not on the table. Who told you that? That's a pernicious rumor. Pinky swear.
Do you feel reassured yet?
No I don't feel reassured. The other retiree added:
Mulgrew also said: Two years ago, we decided to be active consumers. We want access to the same or better health care! But now, because of the RFP, I can't talk too much. (What the f is a RFP? He used these initials a few times but never said what it stands for. Or did I miss something?)
If we do anything, you'll be in a better place! We will make it better. I guarantee. We will fight for you...Blah blah,, that's as far as I can go with the RFP....

Then Jeff Sorkin continued to "address some rumors that are out there".
Report above describes the main points he made. I especially chocked when he spoke of the Access to lifelong concierge services- assistance, guidance to manage chronic conditions. But it's not a Gatekeeper...
Some additional points I heard him say:
"You will be able to retain your current doctors". and "You'll have access to all doctors that take Medicare"
Can't this be contradictory??
"Nothing is finalized" Right. But it will be without any input from membership.

[Tom) Murphy ended with options, choices, enhancements. looking forward. The history of the UFT with the MLC is to enhance benefits, save money.
"Guarantee to keep your benefits or enhance them:
Now I know we're all reassured!

And an old friend commented:

Leave it to the municipal unions to agree back in 2018 to cut medical expenses for the city by $2 billion or so dollars by the end of the contract in 2021 and it looks like they are planning on turning us into a medicare advantage plan as opposed to regular medicare . This is a disaster for retirees - once it becomes an advantage plan you must see doctors in their network - kind of like the old HIP and every procedure will be looked. Dr. Mark doesn't take med advantage plans nor do lots of others because they pay doctors less then medicare does. I assume you know about Mike's (Schirtzer's - Retiree Advocate) resolution for the DA. They will sell it to the members as a benefit just like the ads on radio and TV do - lower premiums, eyeglass and dental coverage, etc. Of course what they won't say is that there will no longer be Part B reimbursement checks each year to cover medicare and also no more IRMAA for those paying a higher medicare premium because they earn over the threshold. It's really all about IRMAA - for recent single retirees who have retired with a pension of 80,000 or so and social security of 20,000 and TDA annual RMD's of lets say 40,000 they pay about $1800 for regular medicare and another $1800 for IRMAA so they would lose $3600 in rebates a year.
This is what RA sent out to members:
Retiree Advocate/UFT is sounding the alarm to all retirees and in-service members of a pending change to our health care. The City and MLC (Municipal Labor Committee) are in negotiations to give the administration of our health coverage over to a private insurance company. Two companies , Aetna and Emblem Health, are among the finalists. This would transfer the 250,000 municipal retires from our current traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan (a privatized Medicare). NYC has called for more savings not for retirees but for itself.

Retiree Advocate/UFT called on Tom Murphy to place the issue before the Retired Teachers Chapter meeting last month. He did but we received a superficial explanation. Last week Retiree Advocate was fortunate to have Mike Schirtzer, a UFT Executive Board member, put a Retiree Advocate initiated resolution to the April 14 UFT Delegate Assembly. The resolution, one of many, was placed well into the agenda thus ensuring that  President Mulgrew  did not get to it, thereby delaying action on this vital issue.

 
This article from The City is setting off alarms among retirees with some calling for a rally or even a die in at MMC headquarters. I was thinking of a rally with our walkers, like The Producers. There are ineresting and alarming details in this article

https://www.thecity.nyc/2021/4/21/22396708/retired-nyc-workers-medicare-advantage?utm_campaign=mailchimp&utm_source=daily&utm_medium=newsletter

Retired City Workers Recoil at Coming Cost-Saving Medicare Shift

Impending move to privately managed health plans could save taxpayers as much as $600 million annually — at a high cost to retirees, who may have to pay more for less care and fewer doctor choices, some warn.

Nearly 250,000 retired New York City employees and their spouses could have their health insurance changed to “Medicare Advantage” plans managed by private insurers as soon as July 1, New York Focus has learned.

Retirees, who are pushing to delay the switch, say they are worried that a switch away from their current Medicare plan could lead to dramatically higher out-of-pocket costs and a smaller network of providers.

“It’s a little frightening,” said Jane Roeder, a retired city administrator. “The word on the street is that these Advantage plans are fine as long as you don’t get sick, as long as you don’t need the chemotherapy that my friend is having right now, or radiation treatment, or infusion treatment, or skilled nursing.”

The proposed switchover follows a June 2018 agreement between the Municipal Labor Committee, a group that represents retired New York City employees, and the city Office of Labor Relations.

Under that pact, both sides agreed to reduce health care costs for retirees by $600 million a year relative to 2018 forecasts, starting in 2021. Switching to Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, was one of eight possibilities proposed at the time.

Under Medicare Advantage, the city projects it would save that sum by paying a fee to a private insurance company to manage a Medicare plan. Documents reviewed by New York Focus indicate a deal is being negotiated between the city and private insurance companies seeking to administer the coverage.

The city currently reimburses retirees the cost of their premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient care, and also pays for a supplemental “Medigap” plan to insure for services not covered by traditional Medicare.

Premiums for Medicare Advantage are often lower than in traditional Medicare, but involve trade-offs that could affect retirees’ health and finances: a smaller network, and higher out-of-pocket costs, said Naomi Zewde, a professor of public health at CUNY who is a Roosevelt Institute fellow.

“The city is going to save money by making seniors pay more for their health care,” Zewde said. “These are people who worked an entire career under the promise that they would have good health care later on.”

Fewer Physicians

City retirees currently have access to the vast majority of physicians in New York. Medicare Advantage plans generally have fewer options: A 2017 national study from the Kaiser Foundation found that on average, Medicare Advantage plans offered access to just 40% of physicians in Queens.

Contract-related documents made public by the city Office of Labor relations suggest an increase of as much as $6,000 annually in potential out-of-pocket costs per retiree could be in store. Such costs are currently capped at $1,053 per year, according to Len Rodberg, a retired CUNY professor and health policy expert who would be affected by the potential change.

The documents show annual out of pocket costs could reach upwards of $7,000 for an individual — approaching the maximum allowed by Medicare under law.

“Basic city workers in the $30,000 to $50,000 [salary] range, their Social Security payments are smaller, their pension is smaller; they’re going to get hit badly by this,” Rodberg said.

Some budget watchdogs have highlighted retiree health care savings as necessary to bring $2.2 billion in annual city benefits spending under control.

“Health care savings are important. They’re essential to getting the city on solid fiscal footing, due to the rate at which these costs grow,” said Ana Champeny, director of city studies at the fiscally conservative Citizens Budget Commission. “It’s important to come to a consensus about how to control the costs, and how to possibly reduce the retiree health costs too.”

But retiree advocates say the deal in the works is too high a price for members to pay.

“Somehow you’re going to save $600 million, and the 200,000 Medicare retiree recipients are going to somehow get no worse and maybe even better service?” said Stuart Eber, president of the Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations.

‘People Don’t Know’

The city Office of Labor Relations received eight proposals for Medicare Advantage plans, now winnowed down to two finalists: Aetna and Empire BlueCross BlueShield, multiple retirees said they’ve been informed by their unions.

Cost-cutting employers have been gravitating toward Medicare Advantage, created in 1997 under then-President Bill Clinton. As of 2018, 39% of New York State’s Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.

“Employers have been gravitating towards Medicare Advantage plans to save money on their retiree health obligations,” said Tricia Neuman, executive director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program on Medicare Policy. “New York is not alone.”

Neuman notes that Medicare Advantage plans rely on a list of in-network doctors. “They’re likely to be more limited in their provider network than traditional Medicare coupled with a Medigap policy,” Neuman said.

Some union officials have attempted to obtain information on their future access to services such as lab tests and rehab facilities, to little success.

“We haven’t gotten specific answers to those questions, and because we’re not privy to the negotiations, we don’t know that they’re not an issue,” said Neal Frumkin, a retiree leader with DC 37, the city’s largest public employee union.

‘Fewer Services’

Achieving the $600 million savings could involve requiring pre-approval from insurers for certain procedures. “That would mean fewer services that would be covered by the plan, potentially,” Neuman said.

More than half of Medicare Advantage participants are enrolled in plans that require prior authorization for ambulance rides, mental health services, inpatient hospital stays and other services, according to a Kaiser analysis.

CUNY retirees are mobilizing against the Medicare Advantage shift, at least until more details are known. At the end of the April 5 meeting, over 93% of attendees voted to request a moratorium, saying that retirees “have not been provided adequate and timely information” about the details of the proposed change.

None of the unions represented among the Municipal Labor Committee’s officers responded to requests for comment, nor did the city Office of Labor Relations. They include the United Federation of Teachers, the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, DC 37, the City Employees Union and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.

Frumkin said that DC37 president and Municipal Labor Committee co-chair Henry Garrido voiced his support for the proposed change at the union’s March executive board meeting.

“Garrido’s position is that it’s a must do because that savings is necessary to stabilize the health benefits for the entire city of New York; the city has to be able to afford to do what they’re doing,” Frumkin said.

“The argument that Garrido makes is that the city fiscally is in a dangerous place, therefore we are trying to come up with savings to enable them to get over this financial problem that they have.”

 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

UFT Mayoral Endorsement: Sunday 7 PM Educators of NYC Zooms in on Endorsement Process; Monday, special Ex Bd and DA

I wouldn't endorse any candidate who is for continuing mayoral control. But none of them want to give up that vast power over so much of the budget so I don't think it will every go away. Also the educational/industrial complex has a lot of money riding on continuing mayoral control which is a lynchpin of ed deform and undermining public schools. Like, given the performance of de Blasio, is there more or less support for public schools? Case closed.

Daniel Alicea of Educators of NYC has invited all caucuses to a zoom meeting tonight at 7PM to hold an open discussion regarding the process used in the UFT for the mayoral endorsement follies. Only room for 100 so sign up fast.

One of the ideas being floated is why endorse at all? MORE Caucus and friends is obviously backing Diane Morales, complained about why she was not included in final four but Yang was. A petition is being circulated calling for her to be interviewed Monday at the DA. I wonder if the UFT HAD picked Morales if we would be hearing complaints about process. 

But anyway, we know the process sucks no matter what because fundamentally, Mulgrew or his designee makes the choice and then the UFT figures out a process to ensure his choice gets the nomination. Most people think it will be Stringer and Wiley in some order since some top UFT officials are clearly backing Wiley.

We reported on the failure to endorse at the DA the other day -  

 In the meantime, the leadership has attempted to counter the critiques of the endorsement process with this:

 

Educators of NYC posted About this event

There's been a lot of discussion in the media and in all corners about our UFT political endorsement process. Everyone has their opinions on the process and who we should or shouldn't endorse. How can the process be improved? Should we even be in the business of endorsing politicians?

This Sunday, April 18th, at 7 PM, let's talk about it.

Join the discussion with our panelists of UFT leaders, chapter leaders, delegates, rank and file members and allies from all over the city, and our many diverse caucuses.

We will share our lineup of special guest panelists, shortly.

RSVP today. Space is limited to the first 100 participants. We will also live stream the event on Facebook Live as a watch party.

A Zoom link will be sent on Sunday to those who RSVPed.


This event is organized by Educators of NYC. We are a community of concerned and professional NYC public school educators.

Reimagine our schools with us.

Equity,democracy,accountability,responsiveness,unionism, and professionalism & pedagogy


Also James posted at ICE/UFT blog:

INDEPENDENT UFT MAYORAL FORUM SUNDAY AT 7:00 PM

There is a special Delegate Assembly on Monday afternoon to endorse a UFT candidate for mayor. Everyone guesses the UFT will endorse Scott Stringer with some believing Maya Wiley has a chance to be second. Is this the right decision? Is the UFT top-down endorsement process fair?

If you are looking for a real discussion on the mayor's race and the Union's involvement, you will most likely be out of luck at the DA as it will more than likely be tightly controlled by Mulgrew. I predict a very long Michael Mulgrew filibuster where he will tout his chosen  candidate(s) as greater than FDR and JFK combined and then the hand picked Unity Delegates will be called on to agree with everything that Mulgrew says.  A dissident just might get to speak for 2 minutes but don't expect more than a token opportunity for someone to voice opposition to the Mulgrew's chosen candidate(s).

For a complete discussion of the UFT's political endorsement process, join Daniel Alicea's Educators of NYC on Sunday evening on Zoom. Daniel is bringing together representatives of a number of groups within the UFT, including ICEUFT for this forum. My wife Camille will be representing our caucus. I will certainly be on the Zoom.

https://www.mobilize.us/theeducatorsofnyc/event/384450/?fbclid=IwAR2DQ56Mc1PMk0mNwDgb-uwHcVT1MzuaNcHht7HBcuo0WpQt-pw8o_3lr4Q


And here's the petition from the Morales supporters

Petition circulated by Morales supporters in UFT

Sign on if so inclined!

Calling for Morales to be debated at the special Delegate Assembly (happening Monday after school!) and a transparent democratic process for endorsements:

 

Friday, April 16, 2021

UFT Leadership Shaken, Not Stirred: Electronic anonymous voting threat, Endorsement Chaos, Unity defections, is mayoral endorsement in trouble?

Analysis from a retired teacher:

I think that anger over the current UFT mayoral endorsement forums was a contributing factor to the rejection of Unity's endorsement reso at yesterday's DA.

First you had Unity Guy Pecararro throw a wrench into the works by feeling compelled to speak against the reso (ironically because of an anti-democratic, arbitrary Unity rule about amending resos, or unbundling endorsements, or something).

Then, the other speaker was also against the reso, and both he and Pecarraro were well spoken and clear. That presented a very negative overall picture before the vote. 

Add to that, that there is an institutional memory of similar DA objections to Unity endorsements in the past, often made very eloquently by Jonathan Halabi.

Then there is the burn factor: The fact that the UFT's mayoral endorsements are the kiss of death. (By the way, do you remember that Bill Thompson's education advisor, and probable choice for Chancellor was Meryl Tisch? Yes, Meryl fucking Tisch! And UFT endorsed him!)

Then there is the pandemic era anonymous digital voting that lets Unity members have some cover to vote their conscience.

And the cherry on top was the mayoral forum charade where Yang - because of "viability" - was invited at the expense of other more progressive, more pro-labor candidates; as though all the forums (crappy as they were) leading up to the "Final 4-um" meant nothing. All that mattered was public polling. That pissed off more people than Mulgrew realized.

Add it all up and you've got an endorsement smackdown and a very shaken Unity leadership..... Comment on ICE/UFT Listserve


 

 Friday, April 16: 

I wish I had written the above.

The UFT world was shocked when 55% of the delegates at Wednesday's DA rejected the laundry list of endorsements, a protest over process and some of the candidates. Can the leadership safely wade into the waters and guarantee a successful vote for their choice for mayoral endorsement? Clearly, the only way you get 55% against them is with some Unity Caucus defections.

See my post the other day for more background: (UFT Delegates REJECT Endorsements, including Johnson for Comptroller, by 55% - Is there a crack in Unity?

I included these points from a Politico report:

Union members tell us the endorsement process this year has been less than ideal — much of the traditional screening process has been via Zoom, and Dianne Morales, an unapologetic leftist and the only former teacher running for mayor, was not included in the union’s final four picks.

Union President Michael Mulgrew defended the process as thorough and inclusive.

So there is a lot of unhappiness with the leadership, from all quarters. 

MORE Caucus headline:

UFT Delegates Buck Leadership on Key Endorsements

Frustrated with package deal endorsement resolutions, rank and file reps reject leadership resolution in a historic vote as the union continues to consider a mayoral pick

The MORE press release expresses concerns over the UFT picking Yang or Adams. Everyone else seems to know that the choice will be Stringer and Wiley. MORE does complain about its real choice - Diane Morales, the designated leftist in this campaign and the only former teacher. I'm certainly considering her as one of my two choices, despite my nagging feelings over her taking a job with Joel Klein at some point. MORE (see below) disparages the UFT mayoral sweepstakes, but if they had picked Morales, who sat for an hour interview with MORE (maybe the final kiss of death for her with the UFT leaders - in addition to their being allergic to any leftists) but if they had picked Morales, there would be cheers.

While the significant rejection was over the Comptroller, does the outcome threaten the upcoming mayoral endorsement? Anonymous electronic voting is a threat to their control.

I imagine Mulgew might want to get the DA back to in person meetings ASAP - maybe with three feet apart.

I was wondering why they didn't just do it on Wednesday because time is running short and the May DA is too late. Maybe they were nervous about this outcome, though reports coming in indicate the leadership was taken by surprise. The assumption is that there will be an emergency DA next week to maximize the exposure, with the "winning" candidates - or losing if you consider the UFT record - being on the zoom to accept the nomination.

When they hold their emergency DA this week can they be sure of the outcome? They must be in touch with China for emergency software to monitor who votes and how.

See my comments on the mayoral endorsements with UFT officials running a fund raiser for Wiley --  UFT Mayoral Election Update: Wiley/Stringer vs Yang/Adams With a Twis.

I'll close with a pre-DA missive from MORE about the mayoral endorsement:

What Does a UFT Unity Endorsement Mean Anyway? Unfortunately, Not Much.

They slam the Unity leadership over the process which left out Diane Morales, clearly the MORE choice though from what I remember from my years there, we always decided to not get involved in an endorsement for office. Maybe that policy has changed with the influx of DSA Democratic Socialists who have had such an impact challenging the Democratic Party at the grassroots level. I imagine DSA would be for Morales, though most don't expect them to put their resources into the mayoral election, especially since Morales has no chance of winning.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

UFT Delegates REJECT Endorsements, including Johnson for Comptroller, by 55% - Is there a crack in Unity?

I have been involved in UFT Delegate Assemblies since 1994. I never recall the Delegates rejecting a leadership recommended endorsement until today... James Eterno at ICE/UFT blog:
LIVE BLOGGING FROM THE APRIL DA (Delegates Vote Down UFT Leadership Recommended Endorsements for Comptroller and Other Positions)

The factions represent various constituencies within the union: The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE-UFT) is a social justice caucus that advocates for racial justice. New Action focuses on social justice as well as economic working conditions and benefits. UFT Solidarity focuses on issues that affect members’ working conditions.--- Politico

Hmmm, I'm getting a kick over the description of the different caucuses. The reporter should have talked to ICE/UFT too since that blog gets quite a lot of traffic.

And I bet certain UFT officials have egg on their faces.



It is important to note that voting at these remote meetings is anonymous so Unity Caucus member votes can't be tracked. Knowing the size of the Unity block, which can include up to 300 retirees, there is not doubt that a number of Unity people had to vote NO. I bet Mulgrew can't wait to get these people back in person, 3 feet apart.

It is also important to note that one of the points of objection was about the process - lumping all the candidates together - and that Unity retiree and often pain in the butt Dave Pecoraro who tried to get the endorsements separated but a motion is out of order at remote meetings so he spoke against the motion and also the endorsement of Corey Johnson and in favor of David Weprin. Pecoraro is a delegate because he runs on the UFT retiree slate as one of The Three Hundred - and if you read my last post, Retiree Advocate is challenging that Unity slate in the chapter elections. I wonder if Unity will keep Dave on the slate for fucking up their endorsement process. Here is James' report from the DA.

Special Orders of Business

Brooklyn borough rep Elizabeth Perez spoke in favor UFT endorsement for various candidates for city offices. Corey Johnson for Comptroller and others. A speaker endorsed Alvin Bragg for Manhattan DA. David Pecoraro (Unity Caucus retiree) tried to amend to separate the Comptroller from the others but Mulgrew said amendments are not permitted. David then spoke out against the Johnson endorsement because David Weprin is giving up his assembly seat and he is well qualified and he actually wants the position. He added we need a fiscal expert and Johnson is not one. Another Delegate spoke against saying doing multiple candidates at one time is wrong. 

55% No and 45% Yes.

The 5 candidate endorsements the Delegates voted against were:

-Corey Johnson: Comptroller

-Alvin Bragg: Manhattan DA

-JoAnne Simon: Brooklyn Borough President

-Selvina Brooks-Powers: City Council D31

-Dweinie Esther Paul Dorsainvil: Judge Brooklyn

None of the above were endorsed today - the leadership oligarchy may find a way to bring them back for individual endorsement in what I assume will be some emergency DA for a mayoral endorsement because the next DA in May will be pretty late. I mean how much effort to do these one by one, which we always used to do? Some people are getting pretty lazy in how they are running this union.

I assumed the favorite in the Comptroller race was the too liberal for the UFT Brad Lander but Corey threw a monkey wrench into that and I hope he loses. This may help that happen, though an actual UFT endorsement often helps the opposition.

Arthur includes this in his DA report 

Political endorsements--Elizabeth Perez--Great honor and pleasure to present this reso. Political teams worked diligently to select best candidates. Can't say enough of hard work political teams have put in. Asking this body to join me in endorsing these people. 

Carmen Romero--Would like to endorse Alvin Bragg for Manhattan DA. Got overwhelming support of UFT for accountability and transparency. 

Mulgrew--Thank you. Not just about him.

David Pecoraro--Wants to divide Comptroller endorsement from remainer.

Mulgrew--Can't do that.

Pecoraro--Then speaking against resolution. Cannot support speaker Johnson. Favors David Weprin.

Thomas McDonough--Also speaking against motion. Endorsing seven at a time is rushing things,. Should vote individually.  Disagree with several endorsements.

55% no. Fails.

I'm going to do a separate report on the mayoral endorsement process but here are two Politico pieces worth checking out. First,

THE CITY’S TEACHERS UNION is leaning toward Scott Stringer as its preferred mayoral candidate, multiple union members have said, but rank-and-file teachers already dissatisfied with the union’s politics have criticized the endorsement process as opaque and unreflective of their values. The union’s finalists — Stringer, Maya Wiley, Eric Adams and Andrew Yang — recently participated in its final town hall after a series of candidate screenings held behind closed doors. The United Federation of Teachers’ 3,200-member union-wide Delegate Assembly — chapter leaders and delegates — votes on the candidates. And their final decision could come this week. But some members tell POLITICO the system for endorsing in the nearly 200,000-person union, governed by president Michael Mulgrew, does not capture the genuine sentiment of members. POLITICO’s Madina TourĂ©

For the second piece Madina Toure spoke to opposition people for her article and they all slammed the process as undemocratic. But with former Cuomo operative Cassie Prugh running the UFT political machine why expect democracy?

Here is one highlight from Madina's report:

political factions within the union have bucked under Mulgrew — though the well-known president won his own re-election in 2019 with 38,591 votes, or 86 percent of the votes cast.--- 

Jeez. Only 86% just two years ago. I bet it ain't 86% today but who's to say the opposition won't screw it up again in next year's election, though with unhappiness with Mulgrew growing throughout the union maybe Randi will kick him upstairs --- how about NYSUT - maybe Mulgew should start looking for an apartment in Albany - except Unity doesn't have a deep bench to replace him. Here's the entire Politico article.

As teachers union readies endorsement, members complain about process

The city’s teachers union is leaning toward Scott Stringer as its preferred mayoral candidate, multiple union members have said, but rank-and-file teachers already dissatisfied with the union’s politics have criticized the endorsement process as opaque and unreflective of their values.

The union’s finalists — Stringer, Maya Wiley, Eric Adams and Andrew Yang — recently participated in its final town hall after a series of candidate screenings held behind closed doors. The United Federation of Teachers’ 3,200-member union-wide Delegate Assembly — chapter leaders and delegates — votes on the candidates. And their final decision could come this week.

But some members tell POLITICO the system for endorsing in the nearly 200,000-person union, governed by president Michael Mulgrew, does not capture the genuine sentiment of members.

“[It] just seems that it’s been a series of backroom deals and backroom occurrences without much membership input ‘cause a lot of times honestly under Mulgrew, a lot of things have been secretive, and it’s the faction that gets the information and spreads it out, and once the race is spreading like wildfire, then we get a communication from the union,” said Ramdat Singh, a teacher at Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy in the Bronx.

The union’s pick for mayor will be its most significant political endorsement since 2013 when it backed Bill Thompson, who ended up getting trounced in the Democratic primary. Mulgrew has enjoyed a much better relationship with Mayor Bill de Blasio than former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, though they’ve had a handful of public disputes — most notably during the last year as the Covid-19 pandemic threw the city’s education system into chaos.

And political factions within the union have bucked under Mulgrew — though the well-known president won his own re-election in 2019 with 38,591 votes, or 86 percent of the votes cast.

The factions represent various constituencies within the union: The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE-UFT) is a social justice caucus that advocates for racial justice. New Action focuses on social justice as well as economic working conditions and benefits. UFT Solidarity focuses on issues that affect members’ working conditions.

Lydia Howrilka, a founding member of UFT Solidarity, said the process “was very closed off.”

"Any mayor that has promised teachers anything has often gone back on their promises,” she said. “We've seen it with Bill de Blasio in particular, and the candidate that the rank and file would support is the candidate that would eliminate mayoral control of schools.”

Mulgrew defended the effort saying it was thorough and transparent, adding 10,000 people participated in the process before the final forum and pointed to “hundreds if not thousands” of new volunteers working in the union. He said some amount of dissatisfaction was more or less standard in a union of the UFT's size and diversity.

“Every single endorsement has come from a committee of volunteers who did the questioning and vetting process on their own and nobody has changed their recommendations,” he said. “Every one of their recommendations has come through. I don't know what else to do. How about no matter what we do, there's gonna be a problem."

Among the criteria for the union nod were a candidate’s fundraising, polling, voter engagement, endorsements, the candidates allies, policy and campaign proposals on education and labor, their Covid-19 response, equity issues, homelessness, job loss and affordable housing.

The union said the process entails members submitting comments before, during and after the town halls to the political action teams in each borough and filling out post-town hall surveys. More than 10,000 UFT members participated in the first four town halls held between February and April and the screeners asking candidates questions were UFT volunteers.

For the Delegate Assembly vote, the union creates a list of all of its delegates who use their phones to vote, which are tallied by a third party vendor.

Most members told POLITICO Stringer will emerge as the victor, but some said Wiley has a shot— both are candidates with union-friendly campaigns.

Michael Shulman, chair of New Action — the union’s oldest opposition caucus — said he would support Stringer or Wiley. His litmus test, he said, is the relationship of the various candidates to charter schools and vouchers.

“I think pretty much I would say they would eliminate Yang, and I think Eric Adams seems close to the charter movement, so I think there'd be a real problem there,” Shulman said.

Mulgrew wouldn’t confirm who the union was leaning toward.

"If we're looking at policy, knowledge on educational policy or policy for the city labor relations, economic policies and the big issues that we always bring up, I'm assuming you can figure out who…,” Mulgrew said, not finishing the sentence.

Critics within the union have raised concerns over the decision to include Yang in the final four — who does not seem likely to win the nod based on criticisms of the union’s role in school re-openings and his pro-charter statements — and the decision to not include Dianne Morales, who is among the most progressive candidates in the race and a former teacher.

“[Mulgrew] did say that Andrew Yang, he’s just another Bloomberg and that was last Wednesday… it’s sad because it tells you this guy is talking out of his mouth,” said Dermott Myrie, a UFT chapter leader and part of the MORE-UFT caucus. “There’s a disconnect between leadership and whoever is on these political teams.”

He added he doesn’t know why Morales “was discriminated against by the UFT and excluded,” Myrie said. “This is straight up marginalization… [a] Latinx woman of Afro descent is ignored, and this is not new.”

[Ed Note: No surprise here that Myrie focuses on Morales' identity instead of her fairly progressive policies - though I would still want to know more about her time working for Joel Klein. As for why the UFT didn't include Morales, we know that too left is not right for the UFT leadership and hasn't been for, oh, 60 years.]

Mulgrew said electability and fundraising had to be considered in the union’s choice. Someone who hits all the right notes but can’t win would be a bad move for a union who hasn’t picked a winning candidate since former mayor David Dinkins in 1989.

He admitted the inclusion of Yang and Adams in the final four was, in part at least, to give the union a chance to grill the candidates on their stances.

“I think it's important for people to hear us saying to him, 'You said this and you are wrong.' Now how do you respond to that?” he said.”

But plenty of members said the union’s process was thorough and inclusive, given the dynamics of the race and the challenges of the pandemic

Shulman said the process was “done fairly well” given a “very complicated and mixed race,” calling the Zoom meetings “terrible.”

[Ed Note: It's nice she gave Shulman some serious attention - I've been working with him on the reinvigorated Retiree Advocate.]

“You don't have that [interaction], what do you really have by the way of a democratic process?” he said. “So that's my frustration with it… I'm not necessarily faulting the union leadership for this. I think that's just the way it is."

Ife Damon, an English teacher at Curtis High School on Staten Island, argued the process has been inclusive.

“I personally appreciated the approach because it allowed me to find out about them all in one place,” Damon said.

 Ed Note: I smell Unity shill.