Sunday, January 29, 2023

UFT Contract Update Yin-Yang - Jan. 29 EONYC 7PM PEP Rally, UFT Rally Monday Outside Whitney Museum - Reality Bites

The UFT Culminating January Contract Teach-in offensive takes place Monday with a rousing press conference outside the Whitney Museum at 11:30. (See press advisory below) with a preliminary pep rally sponsored by Educators of NYC, zooming tonight at 7. And you can still get on board:  UFT CONTRACT TEACH-IN PEP RALLY

SUNDAY, JANUARY 29TH @ 7 PM
A ZOOM ONLINE FORUM EVENT
 CLICK HERE TO RSVP

There has been debates in the alternate non-Unity Caucus universe over this UFT initiative and I have an entire blog post just about ready to go diving deeper into it. Some have been supportive as the UFT leadership finally doing some basic organizing around the contract. 

Others have been more skeptical, seeing the Teach-In as a show and tell event.

I'm somewhere in the middle, hearing from all sides. Unity crowd very excited, Oppos people not so much. But these are the activists on both sides. I offered the leadership some love last week: Fighting for a Fair Contract

Getting readings from the rank and file, the fact that so many people signed up for the UFT training is a sign of widespread interest.

And the interest in tonight's PEP rally has also been heavy with possibly 200 people expected, with an all-star panel of people representing all wings of United for Change - and as Nick Bacon has pointed out (Understanding the ‘Politics’ of the UFT’s Progressive Opposition), UFC is not monolithic, so expect the kind of debate you won't often hear at UFT events. UFT high level officials have been invited but as of this posting have not responded. But we may see a surprise stand-in presenting their side of things.

I'd like to see some history of previous contracts discussed: the 1995 voted down the first time, the major giveback 2005 contract, the 2014 and 2018 healthcare givebacks. Do you see a pattern here? I think there will be a discussion of whether a vote NO means a strike (which the leadership will try to tell people.).


The Agenda

Monday, January 23, 2023

UFT Contract Teach-In Jan. 30 - Showing leadership some love, Revisiting Jan. 9 Ex Bd and Jan. 18 DA

 


 A Key takeaway from recent UFT Ex Bd and DA:

When Carl Cambria raised the idea to bring contract discussions to the schools at the Jan. 9 Ex Bd meeting, many of us in the opposition cheered, even the skeptics - like me. I liked working with Carl who chaired the UFT election committee last year, so let's give him some love for this imitative.

So I was proud to be part of the crew that discussed the issue and decided to show the leadership some support for a change by holding a pep rally for the next day's activities Sunday night, Jan. 29 where a range of issues related to the contract will be discussed. A great panel is being put together with lots of ideas for how to make the next day's teach-in more meaningful. Mike Schirtzer, an Ex Bd member who ran on the Unity slate in 2019 and 2022, is on board. There might even be input from some people in the leadership. Kumbaya!

Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

Jan. is always an intense month with the highlight being my wife's birthday coming up in a few days. My deceased dad and her deceased mom and her young cousin all fell in the same week - some of the family is gathering at a steak restaurant/butcher in New Jersey this week where we go to the counter to pick out our own steaks. Luckily they don't have live cows to choose from. Jeez, time flies. Daylight is getting longer and I can see March around the corner - and my 78th birthday. 

I wanted to write about the Jan. 9 Exec Bd meeting (Who actually needs time to read a contract anyways? – Executive Board Meeting, 1-9-2023) where some significant events occurred and here we are with another Ex Bd meeting tonight. And I also haven't written about the Jan. 18 Del Assembly, (Mulgrew to Members: Prepare for Premiums – Analyzing the 1-18-2023 Delegate Assembly), which I missed due to a cold.There are too many threads to deal with which you can see if you clicked the links above, so let's focus on the contract teach-in. 

Nick has a related contract item at New Action:

Friday, January 20, 2023

DA Links, No CIty Council Vote on MulgrewCare on Jan. 19 - Mulgrew should take credit - I was just kidding all along, Deal With Aetna falls apart

NYC Council has no plan to pass bill that would let Mayor Adams charge retired city workers for health care: ‘It’s dead’ - Daily News

She cast doubt over the Jan. 26 deadline floated by the administration, though. “It’s not even clear that the deadline was ever [active],” she said before lamenting that the administration hasn’t yet provided the Council with a detailed contract for its preferred Advantage plan. “One of the questions at the hearing was, ‘Where’s the contract?’ ... We didn’t even have a contract to deliberate on as a body, so for me, that was a very important piece of information that we would need to go forward in any decision.”

What a failure of the UFT political machine which Mulgrew tried to activate to pressure the city council. Watch segments of the hearing on the VIDEO.

Add this hit:

Mulgrew, after pushing co-pays as part of the solution, actually tried to take credit for the ruling. James has the story with a response from Marianne:

I have an idea for Mulgrew: Declare victory like he did when co-pays were ruled illegal.

 

Mock UFT Press release: Major victory for UFT as City Council Won't be bringing up and voting on a bill he advocated for

Michael Mulgrew praised The NYC City Council for not voting on the UFT promoted bill urging them to change the code despite his desperate efforts to get it changed. He announced he was just kidding all along and never wanted to have the city code changed so retirees who want to opt out of Mulgrew's fantastic Medicare Advantage Plan could pay $200 a month. "Do you think I'm dumb enough to alienate UFT retirees who are the backbone of Unity Caucus support?"


We heard from Marianne that the city council would not be taking the expected vote on changing the City Council Admin code and most likely will let it die. This is a big defeat for Mulgrew who tried to get UFTers to bombard the city council will pleas to change the bill. But would it shock me to see Mulgrew shrug and take credit as in the faux press release above?


 

 

 

There was a DA on Wednesday (Retiree Advocate was out there handing out leaflets) which I missed because I had some symptoms - I am negative so probably a mild cold. James and Nick have those stories

Monday, January 16, 2023

City Council Healthcare Hearing Update - Links to Video, Exposing UFT Leadership hypocrisy, And Much more

The City Council hearing on Monday went very well.  We filled the Council chamber with about 250 retirees, plus we had about 300 people outside chanting, "Let us in!"  Our government liaisons were able to get the retirees into 250 Broadway so they were warm and could hear the hearing.  As people left the chamber, retirees were permitted to come across the street to the chamber to testify.

We had retirees testifying until 9 pm!  We were heard.    We were also blessed to have Wendell Potter testify with us.  Wendell, is a nationally known whistleblower in the insurance industry.  Here is his newsletter about the hearing.  

The hearing lasted almost 12  hours long.    If you want to watch the full testimony of the day click here.  VIDEO.  ....NY
Monday, Jan. 16, 2022
 
I just checked out the VIDEO of the hearing - it's 12 hours of drama that would make a mint on Netfix. I got to go near the end at 9:54 -9:57 -  But also check out the woman before me - Laura I think her name is - called Mulgrew and crew out and out liars. Her husband has cancer and told her to say don't change the code - fight them. They're trying to privatize like you wouldn't believe and they are watching us - and that code is protecting us and if we let them do it here it opens everything up for them -- truly a wonderful speech. And UFT Ex Bd member Ibeth Mejia who came over from the UFT Exec Bd meeting with us speaks right after me - find other ways to save money. Mulgrew by zoom is around 4:30. Marianne panel follows them at 4:40 and goes on till 5:40 as she is questioned intensely and holds her own. Renowned critic of Medicare Adv Wendell Potter is also part of her panel. If you want a full picture, check out that segment. 
 

I got some pretty good responses to my 2 minutes, plus phone calls and emails from people I hadn't heard from in a while.

I've been trying to write this report of what happened last Monday at the NYC City Council Healthcare issue for a week but kept getting tangled up with the constant flow of information and the report grew and grew until it became totally unwieldy. So I'm starting over.
 
I reported the morning of Jan. 9 as I was watching the hearing from home and writing my testimony:  
I left off as I was about to leave to catch the ferry into the hearing and had just sent in my written testimony at around 12:30. I got there around 2:30 and had to go through various checkpoints - the first policeman told me the hearing was over and to go to 250 Broadway -- so I went there and was told they were about to bring down the people from the overflow room so I should go back. I went through 3 different police who all asked me what I was there for: I came to help save yours and my health insurance - and they all laughed and knew exactly what I was talking about and were supportive.
 
So I came in as Marianne was testifying and filled out a form to get on the speaker list. I was told I was at the end and around 5:15 I left to go to the UFT Ex Bd where I had a delicious meal of pork and potatoes --- oh, yeah, some other shit happened worth reporting. I have a few words to say about the Jan.11 UFT ex bd (the good, the bad, the ugly about Unity actions) but will do that in a separate post - you can catch up with James and Nick reports on Jan. 9 EB:

As the Ex Bd was ending around 7:15 I received texts from Jonathan and my friend Shelly in San Diego telling me my name had been called, so I went back to the council and pretty much got to speak almost immediately. A bunch of us from Retiree Advocate left together. Some had been there since 8 AM.

James has a weekend update from Marianne who also appeared on Daniel and Leonie's WBAI program Sunday night with an email update:
  • The latest email from the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees:  They are advising us to be patient. The most important paragraph from the email: We have asked you all to NOT call City Council.  We are allowing them to absorb this week quietly, and we will advise you to our strategy next week.   Monday is a holiday, and we will be in meetings on Tuesday.  We will advise you of our next steps soon.   In the meantime, look back on all we accomplished together!   You wanted to be heard, and boy did they hear you!   Things are looking good...  just give us a few days..  Be hopeful!   WE ARE!  
 
Jonathan also has a few words: JD2718 A Healthcare Week - a pretty full healthcare week.
 
Stories kept breaking all week. We are prepping for a Jan, 19 rally if a vote comes up but that is still in flux.

A biggie on Jan. 12 was another loss for the city and Mulgrew with the judge ruling on co-payments:
Even funnier was Mulgrew's attempts to take credit for the ruling after he was instrumental in inserting co-payments and bragging about doing so. Does Mulgrew have a memory issue where he forgets what he says ten minutes before? James has the funny take with Marianne's video mocking Mulgrew:

Even funnier than funnier was Mulgrew's own retirees trashing MedicareAdv and pleading in their testimony arguing they desparately want the option of not being forced in MedAdv by the actions of their own union leadership - arguing both for and against the UFT position. They testify at 6:30 point.

 Arthur did a piece on the same issue destroying the leaderhip. 

 MORE News and links:

Left/Right Coalition at Council:

Don't discount the significance of right wing Republicans and Democratic Socialists coming together, a story that might stimulate national interest: 

You know your for-profit, privatized Medicare Advantage health insurance plan really sucks when right-wing Republicans and left-wing Democrats actually unite to defeat its imposition on municipal retirees. 
Medicare Advantage has been exposed as a vehicle to enrich for-profit insurance. You don't hear the truth on corporate MSM. You get the truth, unvarnished on Work-Bites https://www.work-bites.com/view-all/in-nyc-theyre-lining-up-left-amp-right-to-defeat-medicare-advantage

The 9AM press conference  

Friday, January 13, 2023

Republicans, UFT/AFT Hate Medicare - but not always - Unity at City Council Hearings Beg to Keep Medicare as their caucus tries to take it away

Adams’s cynical attempt to load the dice so that they always come up snake eyes for retirees was evident in the pleas of a handful of cancer victims so desperate to stay out of Medicare Advantage that they demanded Council members change the law so they could pay for the Medicare/Senior Care plan they currently get for free.  ..

Marc Kagan: Is Adams’ Medicare Advantage ploy ‘a game of chicken?’ - The Chief

These pleas were coming from UFT/UNity Caucus retirees, all of whom have been on the UFT payroll and may still be.It's an old comparison but recall the old joke about the guy who kills his parents and pleads for mercy on the grounds he was an orphan. 

Friday, Jan. 13

 


One of the more astounding events at the NYC City Council hearings on Jan. 9 was the testimony of 4 long-time UFT/Unity Caucus members who were part of the UFT/Unity machine for decades pleading to have the admin code changed so they could choose to opt out of the Medicare Advantage plan Michael Mulgrew has been touting as the best plan in the history of the world - he testified earlier by Zoom (not wanting to hear the jeers of UFT retirees in person). 

So here have these Unity stalwarts telling the council the positions they held in the UFT and also detailing their illnesses and how they fear being put into a Medicare Advantage plan advocated by their own union -- and please allow us to pay to put out by changing the code -- even if many UFT members with lower pensions could not opt out.

Really astounding performance. As they left one of them said to me "I want my choice."

If you look at the UFT official position in pushing a Medicare Advantage program, we see they fundamentally line up with some Republicans and the corp dem party.

The AFT and UFT are taking contrary positions to what they proclaimed in the past -- watch what they do not what they say:
 
Paul Krugman has a column today asking

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/12/opinion/why-republican-politicians-still-hate-medicare.html

 self-identified Republicans say that they are vehemently opposed to “socialism.” But when an Economist/YouGov poll asked them which programs they considered socialistic, none of the big-ticket items made the cut. Social Security? Not socialism. Medicare — which is, by the way, a single-payer national health insurance program, which we’re often told Americans would never accept — also isn’t socialism.

A Scam of the Century: What’s Wrong with Medicare Advantage? Everything

 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

More Bad News for Mulgrewcare - An Injunction for Copayments for Senior Care

Judge blocks NYC from charging retired city workers $15 co-pays in latest Medicare setback for Adams

Holy crap. The Hits Keep coming to Mulgrew and RandiCare.

 I've been working on a blog about Monday's city council hearings and this pops up tonight - I mean last night as it's 1 AM tomorrow - I mean today. We were invited out to dinner tonight and I had two hard drinks. So I get a ping and this news pops up and I assume it's the liquor. 

If I were Lyle Frank I'd hire a food taster.

James posted the news on ICEBlog:

COURT GRANTS RETIREES INJUNCTION TO STOP SENIOR CARE COPAYMENTS

Judge Lyle Frank has granted Medicare eligible City retirees an injunction to halt the GHI Senior Care  copays that the City imposed in 2021 and the unions agreed to. This is another defeat for Michael Mulgrew. We The new copays violate Administrative Code 12-126 which says the City has to pay the full cost of healthcare for City retirees, active employees and our dependents.

Don't change 12-126, City Council!

We understand the City has already appealed but their record against the retiree's lawyers is not good. The legal outlook is positive based on how I read the decision based on 12-126. 

That leads to two important questions:

1-If copays are not legal for Medicare eligible retirees, how are they legal for non Medicare eligible retirees and active City employees?

2-Aren't all of us covered by 12-126? My non lawyer guess is we have accepted the copays for so long the City will say they are now the staus quo. That was their argument with the retirees buy the judge rejected it. The rest of us have accepted the copays for years and years. The moral is to never give the City an inch for a second.

As for City Medicare eligible retirees only, this is from Marianne on Facebook:

Marianne is advising you to bring a copy of the injunction with you to the doctor if asked for a copay.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Monday MulgrewCare/RandiCare Update - City Council Hearings ARE ON -- Big crowd outside moved to overflow room - You can live stream

This Carmen De La Rosa is a hack. This is horrifying already -- comment on twitter

We are on a slippery slope here. If we allow the city to make sub-minimum contributions to our health care, it's not likely to end there. The MLC, with the full support of our union leadership, made a short-sighted cost-cutting deal with the de Blasio administration. Though Mulgrew assured us in 2018 copays would not go up, some have doubled since then. Where can they go from here? The sky's the limit.... Arthur Goldstein, NYC Educator, -- Tell the City Council to Vote NO and RETAIN the City's Minimum Contribution to Our Health Care

Watch the hearing live but have nausea pills ready: https://council.nyc.gov/livestream/. The people from the city are testifying and something the woman said caused the audience to break out in laughter - she might as well be a saleswoman for Aetna.

Jan. 9, 2022

Blogs to check out: 

10:40 AM - 

I'm still home because I knew it would be a zoo and just got a message there are 150 people waiting outside to get in. I will get there this afternoon when things lighten up. My written and hopefully spoken testimony is below but first I just received this from a friend's city council member Shahana Hanif, district 39. I've told you that the left and the right are our most adamant supporters. Actually, I see more issues on a broader basis coming - even the House insurrection crew offers interesting possibilities which I will explore -- sort of an anti-corporate mentality counter to mainstream Republican and Democrats.

Stand With Our Retirees

This week, I was proud to stand with our City’s retirees in opposing changes to the City's administrative code (specifically admin code 12-126). In a callous “cost-saving” effort, the Mayor is attempting to strip hard-earned healthcare from thousands of our retirees. After months of court cases, arbitration, and back-and-forth between the City and unions, legislation has been introduced in the City Council to allow the City to privatize healthcare for thousands of retired City workers. Moving from the City health plan to Medicare Advantage will increase costs for retirees and lead to worse health outcomes for individuals across the board. As a City employee myself, I cannot in good conscience support legislation that will strip hard-earned benefits from our public employees. I believe healthcare is a human right, from Medicare-For-All to the New York Health Act, and I will only vote to support legislation that moves us in that direction.

 

At the moment, this legislation has simply been introduced, but there is a hearing scheduled for tomorrow, Monday, January 9th, at 9:30 AM (you can register to testify here or watch on this link). I will keep you updated as this legislation moves and the efforts by those opposed to ensuring our City’s retiree healthcare is protected!

All you right wing readers remember Shahana.


Friday night's Marianne video.

https://fb.watch/hULazAcpLy/


Monday is an important day.
We hope as many of you as possible can join us at the public hearing to give testimony on why the city's proposed amendment to Admin Code 12-126 should not be passed by the City Council. If you can come, we will be meeting at 8;30 in front of City Hall. Or come when you can.
You also can submit testimony on-line. The info is below.
Thank you.
Retiree Advocate-UFT Organizing Committee

Testimony Info for January 9, 2023

City Council hearing on health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees, and their dependents.

The New York City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor will hold the legislative hearing on Monday, January 9th, at 9:30 AM in City Council Chambers, City Hall, New York, New York

The hearing is posted online HERE

If you are planning on testifying live in person or via video conferencing, YOU MUST register in advance of the hearing at https://council.nyc.gov/testify/

Please Pledge to Share Testimony To City Council To NOT AMEND CODE 12-126
If you are a city worker, retiree, or have a loved one that will be impacted by the change to code 12-126, submit testimony in-person, virtually, or written, this Monday, 1/9/23!
----------------------------
Testimony Info for Monday, January 9, 2023
The New York City Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor will hold the legislative hearing on Monday, January 9th, at 9:30 AM in City Council Chambers, City Hall, New York, New YorkThe hearing is posted online HERE If you are planning on testifying live in person or via video conferencing, YOU MUST register in advance of the hearing at https://council.nyc.gov/testify/
• If you plan to testify in person, it is recommended that you bring twenty (20) copies, double-sided, of your written testimony to the hearing.
• FACE COVERING MUST BE WORN
• In-person testimony instructions: there is a 2-minute time limit on oral, in-person testimony.
• Please include your name, address, and district, if applicable, on all written testimony.
• Written testimony may be submitted without registration by emailing it to: Testimony@council.nyc.gov or via the Council’s website at https://council.nyc.gov/testify/ up to 72 hours after the close of the hearing.
The entrance to the hearing and restrooms at City Hall is fully accessible: there is no access to snacks or drinks inside the chambers, so come prepared.
For questions about accessibility or to request additional accommodations, please contact Nicole Benjamin, NBenjamin@council.nyc.gov, or 212-482-5176 at least 72 hours before the hearing.
All other questions about the hearing can be directed to Elizabeth Arzt, EArzt@council.nyc.gov, and Nicholas Connell, NConnell@council.nyc.gov.
------------------------ 
RSVP: MAKE A PLEDGE TO SUBMIT ORAL, VIRTUAL, PHONE, OR WRITTEN TESTIMONY NOW
This Monday, January 9, 2023, beginning at 8:30 am, the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees and other allies will gather at City Hall to get through security, followed by a press conference at 9 am.
We need as many who can make it *in-person* to show up at CIty Hall this Monday! This is THE DAY.
If not, please be prepared to give testimony over the phone or on Zoom. And, of course, written testimony will be accepted as part of the public record, also.
Then, beginning at 9:30 am, in the Council Chambers at New York City Hall, the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, chaired by Council Member Carmen De La Rosa, will be holding a public hearing on proposed legislation to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees, and their dependents.
 
 

Norm Scott Testimony regarding changing administrative code 12-126

 

Jan. 9, 2023

 

My name is Norman Scott. I support keeping 12-126 intact while we continue to negotiate for quality healthcare, and savings. 12-126 ensures an equal subsidy for all city employees and has done so for over half a century, no matter the vicissitudes of city finances and has done so by a defined price threshold set in a city law. If insurance costs less than the threshold we are covered. If it's more than the threshold, we pay the difference. Changing the code allows the city to reduce this threshold. Keeping 12-126 allows the most vulnerable among us remain in publicly run Medicare and doesn't force anyone into the private, regional, for-profit Medicare Advantage ecosystem.

 

My union’s (the UFT) attempts to lobby the city council to change the administrative code comes from the top leadership, not the rank-and-file working members or retirees. At no point have we had a vote or any say in the decision.

 

I retired from the NYC Department of Education 20 years ago after 35 years of service as a teacher. I’ve been on traditional Medicare for almost 13 years I attribute my relatively good health to having a solid, supportive medical plan. Medicare pays 80% and my supplemental 20% has been paid for by my city managed Senior care. So far, I’ve had no denials of medical service and every doctor I go to accepts my current plan.

 

Amending the code would give me the “choice”  to pay almost $400 a month for my wife and I for the same plan we’ve had. I understand the desire to save money but why on the backs of retirees? Working to cut healthcare costs should be the goal. Attempting to change the admin code is being sold as offering retirees an option, for a fee, but also taking away any option for the numerous retirees who cannot afford the fee to opt out of a Medicare Advantage plan: In essence, not having an option at all, but only an option for the well-off, turning the delivery of healthcare services into a means test: Medicare Advantage for the disadvantaged who would have no real choice at all. A two-class system.

 

In addition to having the security of a strong healthcare safety net through traditional government managed Medicare, I also support the concept of traditional Medicare as one of the few public options available, unfortunately, only to retirees. Medicare is a government run program like social security and is supported by taxes we pay into both plans throughout our lives. Medicare has much lower administrative costs compared to private plans and a professional civil servant unionized workforce that can focus on addressing the needs of patients. Medicare sets standards of payments to control costs.

 

The advantages of Medicare for higher efficiency and control over rising costs should be extended to all Americans. Every month I get a statement where a physician or hospital might input an enormous charge and Medicare only pays a fraction. Yet almost every doctor and hospital accept what Medicare pays. Medicare is one of the best ways to control runaway healthcare costs.

 

Medicare Advantage plans are privately owned and managed profit-making operations, with much higher administrative costs than Medicare and with shareholder value being of higher value than patient care. We see expensive and extensive advertising with highly paid spokespeople for these plans and exorbitant executive salaries, dividends, and stock buybacks, often at the expense of patient care though denial of certain procedures and creating delays in gaining access to some procedures. Add the massive cost of lobbying politicians and even union leaders.

 

Recently, the mainstream press, led by the New York Times, has taken up the cudgel of exposing Medicare Advantage plans. The City Council is urged to reject all attempts to expand privatized Medicare Advantage plans and shrink highly successful traditional Medicare.

 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Diane Ravitch, Arthur Goldstein: Why Is My Union Selling Out Its Members’ Healthcare?

First they came for the retirees. And if you don’t think they’re coming for current employees next, I have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. --- Arthur Goldstein, NYC Educator

I think Mulgrew has already bought that bridge in Brooklyn, using stabilization fund money to buy it.

Oh, the fur is flying, with Monday's hearings on the bill to change the admin code coming up for comment. I hope to go, though actually having the opportunity to give testimony is going to be iffy. I'm working on my statement and will post it in a follow-up blog Monday with more links as the press has been picking up the story. My sources sent me a list of where the council people are voting - it's running 50-50 it seems, with the right and the left backing retirees while the whishy middle is - well, wishy.

In the meantime, here are a few to tide you over:

Here is Nick at New Action – UFT

Open Letter to Members of NYC City Council -

Eterno on ICEUFT Blog

CITY COUNCIL HEARINGS ON MULGREWCARE MONDAY MORNING -
You can testify in-person or on Zoom. Sign up here, please. The New York City Organization of Public Sector Retirees is organizing and along with other groups will be there at Monday's Civil Service and Labor Committee hearing.
Arthur has been back in action with an editorial in the Daily News. Arthur packs a lot of wallop and can't be hurt by Diane Ravitch joining the fray in support: (check the comments)

https://dianeravitch.net/2023/01/08/arthur-goldstein-why-is-my-union-selling-out-its-members-healthcare/#comments

The City of New York wants to cut the cost of health benefits to retirees. The unions support the cuts. This is hard to understand. Many retirees worked for decades at low salaries, assuaged by the guaranteed benefits after retirement. The United Federation of Teachers has taken a leading role in pushing members, active and retired, to switch from Medicare to a for-profit Medicare Advantage plan. Some retirees have fought back, knowing that not all doctors are part of a MA network and that they will have to get pre-approval for major care.

This article was written by veteran New York City Arthur Goldstein and published in the New York Daily News and reposted on Fred Klonsky’s blog.

I have a personal stake in this issue. I am on Medicare. My secondary is my wife’s union healthcare plan. She worked for 35 years as a public school teacher, principal, and administrator in New York City. In 2021 I had open heart surgery. Neither my referring cardiologist nor my cardiac surgeon are part of the city’s MA plan. The total bill for the surgery and a month in the hospital was over $800,000. Medicare paid almost everything and probably negotiated a lower price. The secondary picked up whatever Medicare didn’t pay. The surgery and rehab and six weeks of at-home care cost me $300. Seniors like me who face serious health issues stand to lose a lot if the city sand the union force them off Medicare and into a for-profit Medicare Advantage plan.

Arthur Goldstein wrote:

There was a joke in the movie “Sleeper” about how UFT President Albert Shanker started World War III. Our current union president, Michael Mulgrew, won’t be starting any wars. In fact, Mulgrew is now battling to have the city pay less toward our health care. What’s next? A strike for more work and less pay?

Union can be a powerful thing. It empowers working people. It raises pay for union workers, which tends to raise pay for non-union workers as well. Union enables weekends, child labor laws and workplace safety regulations. There are reasons why wealthy corporations fight us tooth and nail. Without union, they can hire Americans at minimum-wage with no benefits.

Mulgrew wants to move all city retirees backward from Medicare to a distinctly inferior Advantage plan. Far fewer doctors take Advantage plans. If Mulgrew gets his way, retirees will have a NY-based plan like we working teachers have. Retirees, unlike working teachers, often live elsewhere. If they do, they’d better not get sick.

As a working teacher, I’m good in New York, but outside this area I’ll find few to no doctors that take my plan. In fact, while trying to persuade me that Advantage would not be so bad, a union official told me he lived in Jersey and had a hard time finding doctors who accepted our plan.

Then there are the pre-approvals. When you’re over 65 and having a health crisis, you probably don’t want CVS/Aetna deciding between your health and their profit. Mulgrew says there will be a quick appeal process. But what if you lose? Is dying quickly now a benefit?

It’s tough being union when your leaders actively campaign for management. You’d think they’d campaign for improved health care at a lower cost to us. Instead, they’ve gotten the City Council to hold hearings on changing the law so the city could contribute less.

This all stems from a 2018 Municipal Labor Committee deal. Rather than insist the city pay us cost of living raises, the MLC geniuses agreed to fund them ourselves, via health care cuts. On Oct. 12, 2018, Mulgrew told the UFT Delegate Assembly his deal would result in no additional copays. Time has proven that untrue. He also promised no significant costs to union membership. Yet any couple wanting to keep traditional Medicare, under Mulgrew’s plan, will pay almost $5,000 a year.

How can we trust our leaders when they clearly don’t know what they’re doing? Are they simply incompetent, or outright lying?

Rank and file had no voice in the MLC deal that was done behind closed doors. It seems the backroom dealing continues. Weeks ago, the Council was “lukewarm” about revising 12-126, which sets a minimum the city must meet for our health care. Now, they’ve done a rather sudden and spectacular turnaround.

What has changed? I can’t help but suspect my union leadership, along with others, quietly reached out. Maybe those union contributions would slow for Council members who voted to uphold health care contributions. After all, it isn’t us, but rather leadership holding union purse strings. And will Council members get funding from Mayor Adams for their pet community projects if they don’t vote his way?

Mulgrew wrote us an email saying we would have to pay $1,200 a year if we didn’t change the law and screw our retired brothers and sisters. This is a classic zero-sum game. America has never achieved universal health care because that’s how it’s presented. If we give those people health care, it will damage yours. Frequently based on racism, Americans accept these ideas and thus reject proposals that would improve things for all of us.

A fundamental notion of union is that a rising tide raises all boats. Rather than embrace that notion, Mulgrew threatened us. If we didn’t support diminished health care for retirees, our own health care would be diminished. By pitting one union faction against another, Mulgrew and other union leaders took a fundamentally anti-union position.

Union ought not to be in the business of abbreviating health care for its members. Union ought to be in the business of not only expanding our care, but also ensuring the rest of our community enjoys the same benefits we have. That’s why it’s sorely disappointing that Mulgrew opposes the New York Health Act, which would provide health care for all New Yorkers. Rather than work out differences with its sponsors, UFT takes shortcuts. In doing so, we hurt the most vulnerable of my union brothers and sisters.

First they came for the retirees. And if you don’t think they’re coming for current employees next, I have a lovely bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

 

Thursday, January 5, 2023

MulgrewCare Update: CM Carmen DeLaRosa Wages War on Labor (NYC Retirees and Active workers) - video

A slideshow from Wednesday's successful rally!

 





More pics - ttps://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1PwCs1D7Lu4zUlCOINW6_3AOix7GyPRaq?usp=sharing

News & information.

This Monday, 1/9, at 10 am in the Council Chambers at City Hall, there’s a hearing by the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, on “A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees, and their dependents.” For convenience, here’s a pdf of the legislation file that’s linked at the hearing notice above. If you want to testify, visit this link for instructions.

This is the next step in the saga of the City and the major municipal labor unions’ attempt to shift retirees over to a Medicare Advantage plan from the current coverage. Here is a link to my December 19 statement on Medicare Advantage (also printed in a previous edition of this newsletter) and related coverage in The Chief (“Retirees’ Medicare Fight has Council Ally”).


 
How? By putting forth a proposed code change to Administrative Code 12-126 that would put ALL our healthcare in the hands of TWO unions (DC37 & UFT). 
 
 WE WILL CALL ALL PROGRESSIVE CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. UNTIL THEY SEE A NYC RETIREE EARNED AND PAID FOR THEIR BENEFITS ND WE ARE NOT FOR SALE. LET THEM HEAR YOU. BECAUSE IF THEY SUCCEED IN CHANGING THE CODE, COME ELECTION TIME, THERE WILL BE MANY NEW COUNCIL MEMBERS; SEATS FILLED BY PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT SENIORS AND THE DISBLED. WE ORGANIZATED OVER 100,000 RETIREES IN TWO YEARS AND RAISED MILLIONS. LOOK FOR OUR ENDORSEMENT, OUR SUPPORT. RETIREES WILL HELP ANY COUNCILMEMEBER THAT PROTECTS US, AND THAT PROTECTS YOUR BENEFITS TOO! 
 
 
1 Hon. Christopher Marte CMarte@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7259 District Office: 212-587-3159 2 Hon. Carlina Rivera clrivera@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7366 District Office: 212-677-1077 3 Hon. Erik Bottcher ebottcher@council.nyc.gov District Office: 212-564-7757 4 Hon. Keith Powers Powers@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7393 District Office: 212-818-0580 5 Hon. Julie Menin JMenin@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-6865 6 Hon. Gale Brewer GBrewer@council.nyc.gov District Office: 212-564-7757 7 Hon. Shaun Abreu SAbreu@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7007 District Office: 212-928-6814 8 Hon. Diana Ayala dayala@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-6960 District Office: 212-828-9800/ 347-297-4922 10 Hon. Carmen De La Rosa CDeLaRosa@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7053 District Office: 917-521-2616 11 Hon. Eric Dinowitz edinowitz@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: (212) 788-7080 District Office: (718) 549-7300 12 Hon. Kevin Riley kriley@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: (212)-788-6873 District Office: (718) 684-5509 or 347-326-8652 13 Hon. Marjorie Velazquez MVelazquez@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7375 District Office: 718-931-1721 14 Hon. Pierina Sanchez PSanchez@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7074 District Office: 917-409-6376‬ 16 Hon. Althea Stevens AStevens@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-6856 District Office: 718-588-7500 18 Hon. Amanda Farias AFarias@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-6853 District Office: 718 792-1140 22 Hon. Tiffany Cab├ín tcaban@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-6963 District Office: 718-274-4500 25 Hon. Shekar Krishnan SKrishnan@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7066 District Office: 929-293-0206 26 Hon. Julie Won JWon@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7370 District Office: 718-383-9566 27 Hon. Nantasha Williams NWilliams@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7084 District Office: 718-776-3700 28 Hon. Adrienne E. Adams aeadams@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-6850 District Office: 718-206-2068 29 Hon. Lynn Schulman LSchulman@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-6981 District Office: 718-544-8800 31 Hon. Selvena N. Brooks-Powers sbrooks-powers@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7216 District Office: 718-471-7014 or 718-527-4356 33 Hon. Lincoln Restler LRestler@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7348 District Office: 718-875-5200 34 Hon. Jennifer Gutierrez JGutierrez@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7095 District Office: 718-963-3141 35 Hon. Crystal Hudson CHudson@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7081 District Office: 718-260-9191 36 Hon. Chi Osse COsse@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7354 District Office: 718-919-0740 37 Hon. Sandy Nurse SNurse@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7284 District Office: 718-642-8664 38 Hon. Alexa Aviles AAviles@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7372 District Office: 718-439-9012 39 Hon. Shahana Hanif SHanif@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-6969 District Office: 718-499-1090 40 Hon. Rita Joseph RJoseph@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7352 District Office:718-287-8762 41 Hon. Darlene Mealy DMealy@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7387 District Office: 718-953-3097 43 Hon. Justin Brannan jbrannan@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7363 District Office: 718-748-5200 45 Hon. Farah N. Louis flouis@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-6859 District Office: 718-629-2900 46 Hon. Mercedes Narcisse MNarcisse@council.nyc.gov Legislative Office: 212-788-7286 District Office: 718-241-9330