Sunday, March 26, 2023

Is the UFT a company union? UFT/Unity act like Republicans: Anti-Strike, Anti-Public Healthcare; Becoming a Laughing stock of the union movement

There is still time to register for tonight's Retiree Advocate-UFT's meeting at 7pm on Zoom.  Register Here: (Close to 250 people are already registered.)


A Tale of 3 city teacher unions - and UFT/Unity are the losers


Sunday, March 26, 2023 - This  post is loaded, so sit back or just ignore and go out and get some sun

No matter the liberal blather from the UFT (we support the LA teachers for not crossing picket line but would jump off the roof of 52 Broadway of NYC did the same), we have an ineffective right-center UFT leadership compared to the left wing leadership in Chicago and Los Angeles and the compilation I've gathered below proves it, not only ideologically, but in terms of actual political and economic accomplishments. My comment above about changing the leadership does not mean dumping Mulgrew for another Unity Caucus hack but removing Unity from leadership. Note these articles.

In the UFT we have decreased militancy - actually no militancy. Well, if you  consider "wear certain colors certain days" as militancy. 

The increasingly militant autoworkers had their first direct election of a national president and an insurgent won - barely. He said:

“This is the end of company unionism, where the companies and the union work together in a friendly way, because it hasn’t been good for our members ---- President Is Ousted in United Auto Workers Election --

"Company union" increasingly strikes a chord when talking about the Unity crowd. When Marianne appeared on Brian Lehrer the other day, his first comment was how surprised he was that the UFT was teaming up with the Adams administration against its own members. 

We are not surprised.

A long-time UFT activist asked: What would happen if we had direct elections for presidents of the AFT and NYSUT? Right now only winner take all Unity delegates (750) vote in those elections. 

There is actually a new petition campaign in the UFT to bring a level of democracy with a petition campaign based on the UFT constitution calling for a member vote on healthcare changes (as opposed to Mulgrew backroom deals through the MLC).

Teachers in LA actually supported their lower-salaried colleagues by not crossing picket lines and that was a major factor in the massive win for those workers; a sense of working class solidarity that would be impossible to conceive here in NYC where our union leadership works in tandem with our bosses to reduce healthcare. 

And in Chicago, a relatively unknown progressive union organizer is in the final runoff for mayor due to CTU union muscle power. And in both cities the teacher unions are still popular with parents due to their progressive outlook on organizing and reaching out to the community.

Los Angeles proves New York’s union leadership wrong. When we organize together, we can do better. But in the bizarro land of New York, where the union organizes only to get us thrown off our healthcare, while threatening lawsuits to real progressive organizers, we’re told that the only way to truly be ‘union proud’ is to ‘don’t worry, be happy.’ Under the leadership of Unity Caucus, the UFT has become ‘post-union.’ Let’s take a page from L.A. and start acting like a union again. That starts with at least working to win back the right to strike.

The best part? I’ve definitely seen UFT/Unity tweeting and sharing stuff supporting the LA strikes. Just… really? I can’t with these people anymore...reader comment

Nick replies: Agreed. They live comfortably in their contradictory universe. Striking is for others, bad patterns are for us..... Nick Bacon @NAC Blog: Striking is not Antiquated: L.A. education workers prove UFT leadership wrong with 30% Salary Increases

LA teachers willing to lose 3 days pay to support lower paid colleagues while UFT urged a change to city council rules that would create a two tier healthcare system where the wealthier members could opt out while poorer members got stuck. Remember the Unity faithful from the officer ranks pleaded with the city council to be allowed to pay the high fees to avoid Mulgrewcare. I wrote about that farce, as did Arthur.
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.
Chicago teacher union staffer might be mayor while UFT staffer ran against Robert Jackson, the most pro UFT member in state senate. Would Chicago former union staffer and finalist for mayor Brandon Johnson be too left for UFT in NYC?
And then there's Chicago, where the union - with only 20k members, has become a major political player with far more influence than the UFT has here in NY - have one of their own organizers and former teacher in the final two run-off for Mayor. Think disastrous UFT mayoral endorsements over the past 30 years. One day UFT leaders call Adams an existential threat and the next day they prove he is an existential threat to UFT retirees but working with him to attack their health plan. Who is the existential threat, Adams or Mulgrew/Unity?

A CTU staffer reachers run-off. Contrast that to the UFT staffer, Angel Vasquez, who ran against Robert Jackson and is still on the staff as UFT lobbyist and political director. 
I wrote back in March 2022:
 ...the very presence of Angel Vasquez deep in the halls of UFT power is an ad for his campaign. When trolling for funding, the very fact he is so close to Mulgrew increases his fundraising and dampens Jackson's... The UFT has endorsed Jackson’s opponent every time he’s run for the Senate: Marisol Alcantara, even though she was IDC and pro-charter. The first time she won and the second time she lost. Angel Vasquez was her chief of staff. His LinkedIn profile shows that his only teaching experience was at a CO charter school.  Meanwhile, Robert Jackson has always been resolutely anti-charter – as well as the #1 proponent of class size reduction in the Legislature, and the #1 sponsor of S.6296A  which would phase in class sizes caps at much lower levels starting next year.
The Unity crowd may try to crow about being anti-charter, but always watch what they do, not what they say. One of their top staffers  - a political director - has been pro-charter. No wonder the UFT positions on charters has always been wishy washy.
Then there this story where the president of the CSA (supervisor union) explains his NO vote as listening to members concerns -- you know, an elected official practicing democracy unlike Mulgrew's telling us he was elected and screw you if you object.

And note in Nick's report above on the Unity Caucus trashing the idea of not a strike but of strike prep:

Last week, we had the displeasure of hearing the party of our union leadership argue against members having the right to strike. In the land of pattern bargaining, striking is antiquated, said one. It’s white privilege, said another. We don’t need the right, because we’d strike anyways if things were ever actually bad said their caucus president. A few members additionally pointed to cities like LA and Chicago and said—they’re just striking for what we already have here in New York.

So then we read this about another NY union under the Taylor Law:

Transport unions seek right to strike - The Chief

Calling the right to strike a crucial mechanism for securing fair contracts, the Transport Workers Union of America and TWU Local 100 have enlisted lawmakers in a bid to amend state law and  permit work stoppages by MTA subway and bus workers. 

Legislation introduced March 16 by Brooklyn Senator Jessica Ramos and Queens Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato would tweak the statute governing public workers, the so-called Taylor Law, to no longer make it illegal for them to strike. 

The bill’s introduction comes two months before TWU Local 100’s current agreement runs out for its roughly 40,000 bus operators, subway conductors, track workers, station agents and other titles.

Both Ramos and Local 100’s president, Richard Davis, said having the option to strike is an essential bargaining instrument.,50047?cb=1679536243



My final example is the attempt to look socially and economically liberal resolution the UFT leaders are pushing at this Monday's Ex Bd and for the April DA - on paper serious, but when subject to analysis of UFT policy, it is LOL.

While the UFT puts out a message reso addressing issues of health of new borns and mothers, they fight against creating a universal healthcare system that would actually change these conditions. Don't buy their bullshit on why they oppose the universal system here in NY because they want a national system. Randi opposed putting universal healthcare into the Democratic 2020 platform.

In France millions of union members protest attempts to change the protections they have won while here our own union fights to remove our protections.

Here are proposed amendments:

  • Amendment: be it resolved, since mothers, infants, children, elderly are dying from eating processed foods because produce is so god damn expensive and our healthcare is being diminished thru bad labor deals we demand our initial 10% wage increase demand and no more healthcare givebacks.

  • Amendment - whereas France has superior health numbers including life expectancy for newborns and moms Whereas much of this progress is due to actions of strong unions and willingness to strike Resolved uft starts acting like a real union and grow a spine and a pair of cojones

And here's another NYC Municipal union pushing back:

Dear PSC members and retirees, I am writing to urge you to take two immediate actions to protect the current premium free supplemental coverage that all New York City retirees enjoy. First, send this PSC email to Mayor Adams to ask him to choose “Option C” under the new Aetna contract. This option would preserve the current supplemental coverage arrangement, and only came to light when the contract was posted on March 10th (see details below). Second, retirees across the city are calling the Mayor and asking him to choose option C. Please join them! Instructions on how to call in are here. It will only take 1-2 minutes! As soon as the proposed Aetna contract was posted on March 10th, the PSC reviewed it, and discovered details that we believe were not disclosed when it was under consideration by the MLC. The proposed Aetna contract allows the City to continue to offer supplemental Medicare coverage such as Senior Care at no cost to retirees. Contrary to what the public and perhaps the Council were led to believe, Aetna does not require that Senior Care be eliminated or offered only at full cost. Time is short for Mayor Adams to elect this option provided in the Aetna contract. Under the contract’s terms, the City has until April 1 to notify Aetna if it plans to continue Senior Care or other supplemental coverage free of charge. Please email and call right now. Notifying Aetna by April 1 will enable retirees to opt out of Aetna MA effective September 1, and to do so without relinquishing their Medicare Part B and IRMAA reimbursements or their Welfare Fund benefits. Given the importance that many City Councilmembers placed on “choice” in their public statements about retiree health care, we believe that Councilmembers should also be made aware of this provision of the contract so your email to the mayor will be forwarded to your councilmember. There is no time to waste (We have barely a week as of this writing). Please email and call today!   PSC/CUNY | 25 Broadway, 9th Floor, NEW YORK, NY 10004 
Note this:

March 24, 2023


New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees Call on Mayor Adams to Honorably Protect Retiree Healthcare by Choosing Option C on the Proposed AETNA Medicare Advantage Contract. 


(New York, New York) —  Marianna Pizzitola, President of The New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees, released the following statement: 


The NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees urges Mayor Adams to enable retirees to continue accessing Traditional Medicare with a supplement, as outlined in 'Option C.' This bombshell of a provision was never shared with anyone, nor was it shared in the MLC presentations. By denying Option C, Mayor Adams is showing more concern for false “savings” that do not benefit taxpayers, while harming loyal civil servants who are now retired.


Forcing retirees into Medicare Advantage without the option to keep traditional Medicare with a supplement is akin to holding them hostage in a plan that may not meet their needs or requiring them to forfeit their earned and paid-for health benefits. Retirees also lose their reimbursements, which is unfair given that we sacrificed wages to keep our choices of healthcare premium-free. For many retirees with small pensions, paying these costs is not feasible and violates the promises made to us.  Option C allows retirees real choice to keep the plans they currently have at no cost or choose a Medicare Advantage plan.


The limitations of Medicare Advantage, including narrow networks of doctors, high out-of-pocket costs, and steep prior authorization requirements, make it an unreliable option for retirees. This is not just a financial risk, but a grave health risk as well. Forcing retirees into Medicare Advantage without the option to keep traditional Medicare with a supplement is a disgraceful act that shows a complete lack of regard for city retirees. The NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees implores the Mayor to choose 'Option C' and show that he values the health and well-being of the civil servants who dedicated their lives to this City.


The NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees is calling all City Councilmembers to stand with us in urging the Mayor to choose Option C, instead of doubling down on balancing the budget on the backs of retirees.  Option C is the only option that provides real choice while creating real savings as well.



Marianne Pizzitola


NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees

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