Monday, February 28, 2022

UFT Executive Board Minutes - Mulgrew speaks for 15 minutes - 2-28-2022 - Nick Bacon, New Action

See Mikey - you can do it. 

Meeting ended at 6:45, which means Mulgrew didn't spend an hour giving a pres report. It was maybe 15 minutes.

Note comments from Schirtzer and Mindy -- formerly associated with opposition. I'm still proud of them for giving some life to a fairly dead ex bd.

I agree with George Geiss on a reso for Ukraine- but George, how about a reso for Yemen and condemning Saudi Arabia?

Report from CL Nick Bacon who is running for HS Ex Bd on the UFC slate.

2-28-2022 UFT Executive Board Minutes

Nick Bacon (open mic): Seeks support from and consultation with UFT leadership for his school. Speaks on the need for a robust PINI program and organizing committee, so that schools in need can rely on a real targeted response from the UFT when chapter organizing or district/borough conversations fall short. This is important for morale in chapters that have done everything but seen no results. If we do the work to build–really rebuild–our city-wide organizing infrastructure, we can co-organize with schools in need and show solidarity. Says he would sign up to picket with another school in need any day, and knows other members across the city would do the same. Also speaks on the importance of giving real say to teachers in the C30 process to prevent foreseeable issues. Thanks executive board for hosting him.

Leroy Barr: Thanks Bacon for coming and notes that staff will be in contact for next steps for school issues. 

Motions to approve adcom minutes are approved unanimously. 

Michael Mulgrew: (president’s report): Says he hopes everyone took advantage of the break. Says March is the busiest month in terms of union activity, as every weekend is full of events. 

Masks: working closely with the AFT to push the CDC to come out with some sort of criteria with areas to look at for schools. We’re in NYC, but imagine at the AFT level where some parts of the country are all political. It gets ugly. That’s the reality for AFT work. Thankfully, the CDC listened and came up with a color coding. If you’re green, you may start looking at lessening restrictions on masks. Important because we plummeted in positivity in New York. 

We decided before the break that we wanted everyone to have test kits, then continue to do the surveillance program. We’re going to take this week and see if the numbers continue to get lower than look at possibly lessening some of the restrictions. 

Brings up graph: discusses the omicron spike, which turned out to be less serious (but is still serious), then we had a much more rapid decline than expected. It was like we ‘stepped off a cliff.’ But are there other variants? The variants out there of omicron are less serious than omicron, so our doctors are telling us that we can start looking at loosening restrictions – that’s how we get out of a pandemic. Keep your monitoring in place, but you can start loosening your restrictions. So we’ll do the testing – another 85,000 tests done in schools this week – people can still report the at-home tests.

To be clear, if that decision is made, it’s not our decision, but our doctors have said that if that data remains steady, if there’s no spike after break, then we can loosen restrictions. All of our other safeguards will stay in place (masks, testing, etc) if that happens. If we loosen up restrictions and we get to Spring Break and see nothing in our surveillance, we could maybe–cross your fingers–be getting there. But if something happens, you’re gonna have to move in a different direction. Our doctors are telling us we should not fight the administration if the city decides to unmask. But you should be able to wear a mask if you have a situation. We had teachers being disciplined for wearing masks before the March shutdown. We’re not in that situation anymore.

The state mandate will be lifted on Wednesday, after which we’ll be talking to our mayoral administration. We have members who like masks and don’t like masks. The majority of members who communicate with me tell me as long as the data is there and the doctors are ok with it, they just want to know about the particulars. 

That’s it on the masks. I’m apprehensive and optimistic at the same time. I have way too many conversations in my life about this – takes up a lot of my work time. Two other times before we thought we’d be leading our way out of this, and that didn’t turn out to happen. So we’ll do the surveillance and look at the data and go from there. Possible that on March 7th we’ll have an optional mask program in the schools. But you can see the drop there on the graph. 

Negotiating committee, first meeting is on March 30th.

No one is talking about the socio-emotional problems that came out of the pandemic, but I keep talking about masks. Reality is there was a lot of damage. As a workforce we’ve also been damaged, and if they would listen we’d love X, Y, and Z so we can ‘do the work.’

Ugliest negotiations we’ve ever had with NYU. A lot of work went into it and we were highly active throughout the entire practice. Last Thursday, they were able to get their contract ratified, but it was a difficult negotiation.

Mulgrew – Question Period:

Mike Schirtzer: (1) We passed the resolution at EBoard and it never made the floor at the DA, the resolution on distributive scoring being kept in home schools. Need to move that up because it’s about to happen. What’s the protocol, can we move that up here at Eboard?

Mike Mulgrew: Not sure, might be called out of order, which seems to happen a lot lately. But, assuming we as an executive board – we can make a motion to move that up the agenda at the next DA. 

Schirtzer: Makes motion to move up the aforementioned resolution at the next DA. Seconded, no debate, question called, motion passes.

Mulgrew: this is how the agenda gets set, so it was appropriate to do it that way. 

Schirtzer: (2) Speaking as a social studies teacher, social studies is under attack all over the USA. We have great committees here. How do we go about making a resolution to teach history as it already happened, especially with all the laws being passed across the country to the contrary?

Mulgrew: That resolution was already passed at the AFT level, but we can take that resolution and go from there.

Janella Hinds: Happy to work with Mike. We love writing resolutions so let’s make it happen. 

Mindy Rosier-Rayburn: Vacation days and 683. Can they be used during 683?

Mulgrew: Think so. The arbitration says we can, so don’t as questions for things we think we already have. 

(Missed name): On masks, hearing diverse opinions, but in schools where vaccine rates are low and maybe a teacher has an immune problem, nervous about this. 

Mulgrew: That’s one of the conversations I’m having. But this decision will not take away your ability to wear a KN95 mask. Vaccination rates are highest in Manhattan, there’s a map out there, it’s public now. So let’s have a campaign to get rates up, because some schools have extremely low vaccine rates (which tend to mirror the neighborhoods they’re in). But, NYC has reached the threshold for herd immunity. But your ability to wear your mask and get your test is still there.

Rashad Brown: Does AFT have a resolution yet on the Florida Parental Rights and Education Bill

Mulgrew: There’ll be some debate at the AFT, but we’ll make sure we put in our own input, but we can do it the opposite way – do our own resolution and bring it to the AFT.

George Geiss: ENL coordinator – any numbers citywide for students who are Ukranian? Can we pass a resolution in solidarity with Ukraine?

Mulgrew: Don’t have that data at this time. Assuming we’ll get an influx of Ukranian students rather quickly. Will work with you.

Camille Edy: Teachers in district 16 are worried about masking. We have low vaccination rates. We’re wondering what the relaxation of the masking guidelines will have on encouraging vaccines. We think the opposite will happen – if they see masking relaxation, parents won’t think there’s a need to get students vaccines. 

Mulgrew: Hear that fear. But there’s a lot of misinformation about the vaccine that you hear in the AFT debates. I’m concerned about 7 districts, including District 16, but remember – members, wear the masks – the 95s. 

Camille Edy: CLs are brainstorming ways to get the students vaccinated. 

Mulgrew: Thanks everyone and closes. 

Leroy Barr: asks for reports from districts. 

Janella Hinds: 4th Herstory celebration this Friday, 4-5:30 – theme is strength, courage, and women. Virtual event. 

Karen Alford: March 19th (saturday) early childhood conference, first time in person in a few years (hybrid event). CTLE hours offered and ask your school for a purchase order if you don’t want to pay for it. 

Leo Gordon: March 15th, CTE awards. First time in person in a while.

Rashad Brown: March 3rd at 4:00 PM, Dr. Monique Morris ‘Pushout’ documentary about criminalization of black girls. 

Motion to adjourn carries. 

RA NEWSLETTER, Feb. 28, 2022 : Vote for United for Change!

Feb. 28, 2022

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"We do the Work"
2022 Unity Caucus campaign slogan.
from New Action Caucus, an open letter to Mulgrew.

Dear Michael Mulgrew,

Unity Caucus claims “[they] do the work.” But over the last several decades, they’ve allowed the DOE to pile on extra responsibilities for all UFT members. In essence, under Unity, we’re overworked.
Let’s take a look at an example. The other day, I was logged in for some mandatory per session. After a long day, I was ready to go home. But, this year, whenever a student quarantines, teachers are obligated to do remote office hours. In many schools, COVID rates are so high that teachers find themselves doing these office hours many times a month if not every week. Yes, teachers can pick which days they work the extra hours or forego their lunch breaks. But this extra work is compulsory. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize what’s happened here – our work days have been extended, and undemocratically at that. Had I had a seat at the table, I would have argued to replace Monday PD time with this new task. (After all, there’s precedent for this – we did something similar last year with ‘office hours’ and ‘co-planning time’ in lieu of long weekly PDs). I also would have pushed for better remote infrastructure in the first place. But, I didn’t get a vote. You’d think the DA would have been consulted, but we weren’t. As usual, you and the rest of the Unity leadership pushed the forced overtime on teachers without consulting us.
So, inspired by Norm Scott’s excellent piece detailing the ways that Unity has ‘not done the work,’ I decided to put together an incomplete list of the ways they’ve also pushed more work onto the rank and file. 
We are overworked, because Unity Caucus:
-Negotiated endless PD Mondays and OPW time on Tuesdays in exchange for one-time wage increases. Years later, our wages have not kept up with inflation, but the extended days remain.
-Let the DOE enforce mandatory per session for office hours (as well as special education recovery services) rather than repurpose already existing extended days.
-Is committed to healthcare givebacks, making us work harder to find providers or get affordable necessary care.
 -Gave the greenlight for tenure to be extended from three to four years minimum, which is now routinely denied or extended by principals and superintendents, even after teachers put in the work to create expansive portfolios that were never required previously.
- Has failed to reduce class sizes or caseload caps in 60 years, even as the instructional techniques mandated by the Danielson rubric (e.g. differentiation, collaborative learning strategies) essentially require small class sizes.
-Stripped us of many of our protections against abusive administrators, such as the PINI program, and the right to grieve letters in the file. 
- Allowed the discipline code to deteriorate, without building up the functioning restorative justice programs we were promised would fill the void. Without any disciplinary infrastructure, teachers have significantly more draining experiences managing their classrooms, and to the detriment of all students (many of whom are traumatized by witnessing fight after fight).
-Let schools reopen at full capacity, without a remote option, during Omicron, leading to thousands of student and teacher infections. As misinterpretations of the new CDC guidance flourish, many of these teachers have been harassed by administrators to come back only five days after testing positive, despite maintaining symptoms. Many others have contracted long-COVID in the unsafe classrooms that Unity rubber stamped, and now must grapple with whether they even have the energy left to continue their teaching careers.

I for one am sick of being over-worked because Unity fails to deliver. Next election, I’ll be voting United for Change. They’ll actually do the work.

45,000 NYC retirees have rejected the MAPP to stay in their traditional free Medicare Plan in spite of the fact that they will have to pay a $200 a month premium.  Why?
-Prior Authorizations  (an AMA report) delay treatments
-Private Insurance Plans are  more expensive
Elizabeth Fowler, Biden's pick to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI)  used to work for insurance company Wellpoint which later became Anthem.  She has always looked after the interests of Private Insurance. 
When PNHP launched this campaign three months ago, the Direct Contracting (DC) program was flying under the radar of both seniors and Congress. But through our tireless advocacy, organizing, and media outreach, we’ve succeeded in making Direct Contracting a toxic name.
CMS had to respond. But instead of rejecting this backdoor privatization model, they tried to push it back under the radar with a new name — “ACO REACH.”
Just like it’s evil twin, Direct Contracting, the proposed REACH program would: 
-Pay third-party middlemen a flat fee to "manage" seniors' health, allowing them to keep up to 40% of what they don’t spend on health care as profit and overhead.
-Automatically enroll Traditional Medicare beneficiaries into REACH without their full understanding or consent. 
-Require beneficiaries to change primary care providers if they wish to opt out of the program.
-Allow virtually any type of company to be a REACH middleman, including those owned by commercial insurers and private equity investors, as well as every company currently participating in the DC program. 
Wall Street is betting on Medicare privatization as their next big score, and it will take a movement to stop.  PNHP
More about ACO REACH  - Accountable Care Organization
From Bloomberg News a brief example of how Wall Street is closely aligned with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation

Clover Health at More Risk on Rollback of Trump Medicare Program OKA "Direct Contracting"

  • Concerns over CMS policy changes threaten Medicare-tied stocks
  • Clover Health shares slide 90% from June peak, Cano down 60%
By Cristin Flanagan, Bloomberg News, February 17, 2022
A potential rollback of a Trump administration Medicare program could threaten a handful of recently listed stocks from the past two years including Clover Health Investments Corp.

Clover, which went public in a blank-check merger backed by Chamath Palihapitiya, has already seen its stock drop 90% from a June peak. But the stock could take another leg downward if a program known as direct contracting -- a payment model that allows private companies to take part in Medicare -- is ended or scaled back, as it accounts for roughly 60% of its sales, according to Citigroup.

Clover is one of several health-care technology and service upstarts that have come to the market with big-name backers and heady valuations recently. But a broad market rotation away from high-growth names in the face of rising interest rates, as well as cooling daytrader interest, has reined in stock prices. Now, potential Medicare changes could further pressure the stock and others, with little room to reverse course. 

Citigroup analyst Jason Cassorla has opened a 30-day negative catalyst watch on a trio of health companies including Clover saying there is “limited upside” from any decision by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The list also includes Cano Health Inc., a medical provider backed by billionaire Barry Sternlicht that gets about 16% of its sales from the Medicare program, and health insurer Bright Health Group Inc., which earns roughly 5% from the program. Both Cano and Bright Health shares are down more than 50% since June. Additionally, clinic operators Oak Street Health Inc. and 1Life Healthcare Inc. -- both trading below their 2020 IPO prices -- could be impacted, according SVB Leerink analysts. All the Medicare-levered names tumbled Thursday amid a broader geopolitically driven selloff; 1Life closed down 12% while Clover tumbled 11% and Cano Health slid 9.3%.

Want Answers?
More on the name switch from Direct Contracting to ACO REACH
PSC CUNY - What's happening with retiree healthcare

FAQs from the NYC Retirees Organization
Updated MLC FAQs
Evidence of Coverage
UFT Welfare Fund
Prior Authorizations
Dark History of Medicare Privatization- article
Court Documents 

Message from United for Change

We will fight to remove private greed from our profession, our livelihood, and our schools. 

  • Reverse privatization of Medicare for NYC municipal retirees. No in-service healthcare givebacks.
  • Support single payer public healthcare. 
  • Rescind mandatory HMO enrollment for new UFT members. Bring back choice.
  • End high-stakes testing. Replace with fairer forms of student assessment
  • Fight the privatization of public education. Reverse the spread of charter schools in public education.
               Retiree Advocate is a member of UNITED FOR CHANGE
Retiree Advocate Platform

  • Protect our Healthcare from being privatized
  • Expand our Social Security benefits and ensure that they are not diminished or removed
  • Win a (single payer) universal health program, support and organize for the NYHealth Care Act
  • Increase our COLA (cost of living adjustments)
  • Take immediate steps to support teachers working under abusive administrators
  • Fight for Pension Equity- tier 1 for all. Equal work deserves equal pensions
  • Restore the Retiree Organizing Committee.
  • Defend our public schools and take a more active role in preventing them from being privatized
  • Say No to Charters, vouchers and any system that creates unequal worker tiers
  • Reduce Class Size! Cut administrator costs
  • Working members should have greater voting weight when electing union leadership
  • Change the current “winner take all” election system using proportional representation for union slate
  • Represent a variety of views and interests in our chapter. Diversity of ideas leads to better decision making (which results in a stronger union)
  • We support The Black Lives Matter movement. End systemic racism and oppression
  • We call for an end to police brutality, real police reform and the end of the militarization of police departments
  • We support raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.
  • The federal government should institute a massive jobs program to address racial and economic disparity. Support economic and health victims of the pandemic
  • Work to cut the excesses in the military budget and redirect monies to expand social services and benefits in local communities.
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Sunday, February 27, 2022

....and just sold out every New York City retiree


Welcome City of New York Active Employees!

This page is specifically for you, the active NYC worker. We want you to know that we were just like you, loyal union members in the City of New York. Many of us have been retired for 10, 20, 30, 40 and even 50 years already. We were made certain promises and had collective-bargaining agreements just like you do. Our agreements stated that the insurance we had in employment would continue into retirement until our death. As Retirees, we are also entitled to Medicare B reimbursement. These are all benefits our unions won for us during our tenure.

Now, sadly it seems the union position which used to be protect its workers and Retirees, is making side deals behind your back and just sold out every New York City retiree.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Digging Behind Mulgrewcare - - Biden [and Mulgrew] Sticks with Trump Scheme to Privatize Medicare

The article below dovetails with MulgrewCare and the UFT lining up with the Biden corporate Dems: Oppose single payer/medicare for all and the NY Health Act and support the private insurance industry. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

The more you examine UFT/Unity Caucus policy the more you see the links to fundamental Republican and corporate Democratic support for privatized schemes that drain funds from public options. (Think of how the UFT didn't rigorously oppose charter schools initially and even started two of its own, both failures). 

And make no mistake about it, the core UFT policy is center-right Democratic Party. Thus the move away from traditional medicare by Mulgrew fits perfectly into the overall plan to scuttle medicare and enrich private ensurers. 

Mulgrew claims the money comes from medicare to the private insurer so it doesn't cost the city money. This is true but ignores that in essence instead of medicare paying directly to your doctors they give the money to the private insurer who then pays the doctor or hospital - after taking its profit. How do they make a profit? Medicare pays an extra 5% to cover the higher administrative costs -- which even Mulgrew admits to. Who cares he might say, it's not out of our pocket. But actually long-term it is out of our pocket.

Every month I get my socials security check from the federal govt. Imagine if they installed a private agency to get my check, take a bit off the top for "admin" costs and then send it on to me.

Private insurers have another way to squeeze medicare. Upcoding, as explained to me by my podiatrist. They use any excuse to upcode the patients -- meaning taking any condition you have that medicare might pay say $100 for and making it look worse so medicare would have to pay say $150 for the same procedure.

Now, the point is you the patient is not getting any better service or care -- in the long run worse care because abother money maker is denials and forcing you to go through a pre-approval process. Now Medicare also has pre-approvals and 85% of MedAdv preapprovals match medicare -- but 15% doesn't -- and therein lies more than a few bucks for the privatizers. 

The end-game is the total dismantling of a publicly managed program and opening up the entire post-65 population to the privatizers. The article below shows how the Biden admin has put a Trump plan into the hands of Nancy Fowler, a chief ally of private insurers in a plan that will join Mulgrew in trying to gut medicare.

I will add one one point and that is the people who are employed by Medicare --