Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Union members Left, Right, Center Unite to fight City/UFT Leaders in Healthcare battle with Desparate Lies and Distortions as they Blame Retiree Resistance

UFT Ex Bd member Ibeth Mejia at Ex Bd meeting, Nov. 21, 2022
Most retirees do not want to be forced into a privatized Medicare Advantage plan where some health insurance company can get even richer on our backs. Strong unions like the UFT should be taking on these insurance giants... this is clearly a splitter issue. It is the MLC leaderships and their supporters against the rank and file retirees.....

Arthur Goldstein at NYC Educator:  MLC Takes Us for Carnival Rubes

Given Mulgrew's walkback of the contention that all doctors who took Medicare would take the Advantage plan, we know the advice he gets and relays to us is less than reliable. As far as I know, those same people are still sitting around, getting paid by our dues money, and giving him the same awful advice. There is no way I want to be at the mercy of some company whose profits are more important than my health....Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw this NY Times article comparing traditional Medicare to Advantage plans. I'd figured Medigap programs must be prohibitively expensive. Otherwise, why would all those members be queuing to pay 191 bucks a month? How much was it? 500 bucks? A thousand? Here's what the NY Times says on that:
Medigap policies are not inexpensive; a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that they average $150 to $200 a month.
So not only were we not being offered a particularly good deal, but the price we were being charged was on the high end.

[Let me chime in on Arthur's point - the $250 a month I pay for two of us for the UFT drug plan (it was $300 for years). We were reimbursed $840, a little less than half, so the actually cost was $80 dollars a month. We were reimbursed . ... I could get a similar or better plan at Costco.... so I don't get the taketh away and giveth back policy -- why not just charge $80 a month? Unless there's something going on I can't see ----- Like let's find a gimmick to make the union look like it's giving us ice water in the winter -------Norm]

Nick Bacon, UFC Ex B at New Action blog:
Unity Caucus Votes Down UFC Resolutions to Fund Our Healthcare... 

Question period: Ed Calamia: What is our exit strategy if the amendment to 12-126 does not pass?

Geoff Sorkin (head of UFT Welfare Fund): Cannot give you answer right now. MLC is working on it. Right now our focus is on changing the administrative code.

Lydia: Which companies answered the RFP for in-service healthcare? Who are we actually considering working with?

Geoff Sorkin: I signed a nondisclosure agreement, so not available for public consumption at this time.

Oh, boy, our union leaders can't tell us which blood-sucking health industry giant we want to hand our money too  because they signed a NDA. Nick posted the entire United for Change reso which called for looking for alternate sources and the debate that followed here. A short closing resolved:

Be it further resolved that the UFT will take the lead urging the MLC to wage a full-scale campaign, by organizing rallies, protests, and buses to Albany to push the City and State to institute or restore these revenue sources, which could be used to secure the continued stability of our members’ and retiree’s health care. Signed by: Ronnie Almonte, Nick Bacon, Ed Calamia, Lydia Howrilka, Alex Jallot, Ibeth Mejia, Ilona Nanay

I love this crew and I schlepped to the meeting from Rockaway to support them Monday night. Look to the sources of rising healthcare prices like a stock transfer tax.

I especially appreciate Ibeth, who hit all the hot points in her brief speech (read it all at Nick's post). She made a great political point by quoting a political mix of City Council members who oppose changing the Admin Code: a Republican, a left wing Democrat and a more moderate Democrat

Council Member Joann Ariola (R-Queens) told Work-Bites she had fielded thousands of queries from constituents on the Medicare Advantage controversy and that it was running 10 to 1 against making the change in the Administrative Code sought by Mayor Adams and the MLC leadership.

Brooklyn Council Member Charles Barron, (D-Brooklyn) said he was “100 percent with the retirees…because I think they have to keep the commitment they have because it’s beneficial for those who paid their dues and I think the Medicare Advantage approach is privatizing."

"Healthcare costs are out of control,” said Council Member Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan). "I have been lobbied by both sides but at this point, I am supportive of the retirees.”
It's not just the city council but rank and file union members across the city unions uniting right leaning uniformed with left leading teacher dissidents. Who ever thought you'd find MORE and police on the same side? The UFT, as it often is, is on the wrong side of history. 
I copied this from Breaking Points segment on Nov. 22 where they pointed a recent piece by Josh Hawley of all people urging Republicans to go after the working class by criticizing corp profits -- just propaganda I believe but interesting and a sign of a reversal as Dems (and their partners leading the AFT/UFT) suck up to corp donors. Dems did some light work in this regard in the election which I think actually helped in the end when Biden pointed to the energy industry profits. Our union leaders should be leading the way on health industry profits.

UFT, Dems tail as Americans of both parties turn against banks and corporate greed -- Krystal and Segaar take a look at this segment --- or watch the entire 20 minute worthwhile piece at
Let's Blame the retirees instead of the health insurance industry
And let me point out Nick ran with Unity in 2019 - just think of the people the leadership has alienated (Daniel Alicea voted for Unity in 2019) who have become leading lights of the oppo. I'm certainly glad Nick is on our side:
In 2018, UFT leadership went even further, when it lied to membership about our new contract, telling us all that there were no givebacks, only to sneak in a backroom deal to annually find hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare savings. Even with an expired contract, we are obligated to find these savings for the City. In the plethora of propaganda that has been shoved down our members throats, nowhere has it been explained why UFT would ever agree to reduce the City’s healthcare spending in the midst of record inflation. Something just doesn’t add up. 
It sure doesn't add up.

UFT leadership, seeing they were losing in their campaign to change the admin code in the city council so they can charge retirees almost $200 a month for the same plan they have been getting or force then into a MedAdv plan, has gone into full scale panic mode by sending out notices to chapter leaders to call the city council using threats to their own healthcare. I heard rumors of a phone meeting held in Queens where misleading propaganda was given out. One Queens chapter leader posted "I was at last night’s Zoom meeting with the Queens UFT. I’m going to share the latest court ruling with my chapter Wednesday morning and the script to NOT change the code. We had a very negative meeting with the head of the Queens UFT last year, which no one in my chapter has forgotten…"
Defending the indefensible as health care costs rise way beyond the currently high inflation.
Amazing how UFT leadership lines up with corporate greed instead of pointing to it as a chief cause of rising healthcare costs. Why? These corps are big donors to the Dem (and Rep) party. We did see some virtue signalling from Mulgrew in private meetings about corp greed but when push comes to shove they cave and try to force the costs on to us.

Nick brings home the bacon with this point:

We’ve suspected for a while that UFT Leadership’s ‘strategy’ is to let healthcare implode and scapegoat opposition when it does, an absurd act that would put millions of members and their families at risk all for political gain. But what options do they have? After all, our union is on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in annual healthcare savings, and grassroots retiree organizations have blocked the specific ways that the UFT/MLC tried to make those savings on the backs of our most vulnerable members. Any solution, like taxing the rich, is too radical for UFT leadership. To be clear, I responded to Sorkin. So did many others in the opposition. Sorkin had no real response, other than name calling. Let’s hope the people in charge of our union and the MLC wise up and fix this before it’s too late. The lifeline we gave on stock transfers and corporate taxes is still on the table. Please use that, Mr. Sorkin. Don’t let healthcare fail, then falsely scapegoat opposition for political gain. 

Sorkin and Mulgrew under cones of silence by signing non disclosure agreements they claim as their excuse for not informing people. At the Nov. 8 Retired Teacher meeting Mulgrew was asked by a retired secretary who cannot afford to pay over 2K a year to opt out of the forced MedAdv plan why the botched rollout originally and why should she trust him now and he punted it to blame the city and  Emblem and his signing  a Non Disclosure.  
The job of union is to defend members, not the employer and corp greed. Sorkin called the unique MedAdv plan "Revolutionary" -  for sure when union leaders team up with the employer to mess with member healthcare and then hide behind Non disclosure agreements. The Health insurance industry makes massive profits and raise costs and UFT leaders want to help them do even better with a fat contract while they should be exposing their profits and high exec salaries and stock buybacks on our backs. Demand they reduce high profit margins before we pay a dime more. Don’t whine about high health care costs. Fight them instead of us.
I copied this from Breaking Points segment on Nov. 22 where they pointed a recent piece by Josh Hawley urging Republicans to go after the working class. Dems did some light work in this regard in the election which I think actually helped in the end when Biden pointed to the energy industry profits. Our union leaders should be leading the way on health industry profits.

UFT, Dems tail as Americans of both parties turn against banks and corporate greed -- Krystal and Sagaar take a look at this segment --- or watch the entire 20 minute worthwhile piece at
Let me close with Jonathan's comments:

Today Mayor Adams, Harry Nespoli (Sanitation), and the UFT’s own lame duck, Michael Mulgrew, are off trying to change the law, as an end-run around the ruling. Section 12-126 of the administrative code protects workers and retirees against exactly the type of scheme these guys are trying to force on us. Call, email, tweet, write – let your city council member know how you feel “Do Not Amend 12-126. Do Not Amend the Code.”

Today Adams, Nespoli, and Mulgrew are trying to smear their opponents – the members, the retirees, us, the people who have so far blocked their plans to cut our healthcare.

Today Adams, Nespoli, and Mulgrew are off trying to find a new vendor for Medicare Advantage. They will eventually find a vendor – the deal is too good – take federal money – and the more procedures you deny, the more $$$ doesn’t get spent on healthcare – the bigger your profits will be.

Lame duck Mulgrew? I have a half-written  blog called Whither or Wither Mulgrew. Should be a fun Thanksgiving weekend.

 One more from

The Chief:

Appeals court backs retirees in Medicare skirmish with city
Council support for administration's plan uncertain

Retirees rallied in February near City Hall in opposition to a proposal by officials to shift to a health-care consortium-run Medicare
Advantage plan from a Medicare plan run by the city.

Posted Tuesday, November 22, 2022 7:08 pm

An appeals court panel has sided with city retirees in their battle with Adams administration officials over a planned switch of their traditional Medicare health plan to a cost-saving, private-sector Medicare Advantage plan.

In a unanimous decision issued Tuesday, a state Appellate Division panel upheld a trial court judge’s determination in March that the municipal code does not permit the city to charge retirees for their health benefits.

“The court correctly determined that [the administrative code] requires respondents to pay the entire cost, up to the statutory cap, of any health insurance plan a retiree selects,” the five-justice panel wrote in a two-page decision.

The administration, following consent by a split Municipal Labor Committee, earlier this year enlisted the City Council in a bid to amend the municipal code in a way that would allow the city to charge retirees the difference between a Medicare Advantage plan and any retirees’ plan that costs more. The difference has been estimated at $191 a month.

Taking up one of the administration’s arguments, the appeals panel also found that “[n]othing in the statutory text or history supports respondents’ interpretation that the provision is satisfied so long as they pay for the costs of one of the health insurance plans offered to retirees, which they have determined to be the Medicare Advantage Plus Plan.”

Jonah Allon, a City Hall spokesperson, said that while the administration was “disappointed by the court’s decision,” city officials were considering their legal options.

“We continue to maintain that the city’s position is firmly grounded in law, but today’s decision further underscores the urgency for the City Council to act and approve the administrative code change required to preserve a choice for retirees,” Allon said. “The city is facing serious financial challenges and we need the partnership of the Council to provide this sensible path forward to contain skyrocketing health care costs.”

Support is uncertain

It’s unclear whether the proposed amendment would find enough support among Council members.

Asked about the decision during the press briefing preceding the Council’s meeting Tuesday, Speaker Adrienne Adams said little beyond what she had already articulated early this month, namely that the Council considering the matter.

“We are still discussing the issue internally and we’re receiving briefings,” she said. “So, we are moving deliberately and thoughtfully because we want to protect health care for our current municipal employees and retirees.”

In an Oct. 28 letter to MLC Chairman Harry Nespoli, city Labor Commissioner Renee Campion said that if the Council had not made meaningful progress on legislation by Nov. 4 ahead of passage later in the month, the city would ask an arbitrator to order the “immediate implementation” of a cost-saving Medicare Advantage plan and eliminate other plans.

The city, Campion wrote, is losing $50 million each month the new plan is not in place.

Disagreement among unions

While most union leaders, including the United Federation of Teachers’ Michael Mulgrew and District Council 37’s Henry Garrido, were behind the effort to change the code and charge retirees, some were decidedly opposed.

Oren Barzilay, the president of District Council 37's Local 2507, which represents city emergency medical technicians and paramedics, said charging for health care would certainly harm retirees, but potentially also active city workers. "It is clear that our retirees have paid their dues in return for their earned and guaranteed healthcare,” he said in a statement.

“If all of the parties in this dispute could simply have gotten together, including having retirees represented at the table, we very likely could have solved this issue amicably and collectively.  However, some parties clearly prefer not working together."

Jacob Gardener, the lawyer representing the retirees, said the Appellate Division’s decision represented “a complete and total victory.”

“We're going to keep fighting like hell to make sure that retirees get the health care benefits they desperately need and are entitled to and were promised,” said Gardener, an FDNY firefighter for eight years before turning to law full time in 2015.\\Addressing the administration’s effort to pass an amendment to the municipal code, he said, as have the retirees’ groups, that the city had not sufficiently explored other ways to save on health-plan costs.

“I think what they're missing is that there are ways to achieve health-care savings, significant health-care savings, that don't involve depriving elderly and disabled, retired civil servants of the health-care benefits they were promised decades ago,” Gardener said. Municipal retirees, he said, “have an interest in ensuring the city's financial success, just like everyone.”


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