Monday, June 24, 2024

Mulgrew Offers Tepid "I Give" on Medicare Advantage, Bennett, Marianne and Arthur response

I disagree with President Mulgrew's analysis. UFT retirees are neither fearful nor anxious. We are clear-eyed and steadfast in our opposition to the privatization of our public Medicare benefits. We are not the panicked old fogies that President Mulgrew pictures us to be....Bennett Fischer, newly elected CL of the RTC/UFT responding (full text below) to Mulgrew's withdrawing support for Medicare Advantage

Dear Norm,
I cannot believe the letter I got from Michael Mulgrew.  He is trying to put forward that only the City and the Mayor were pushing this plan.  After everything, he still thinks we are stupid sheeple.  What a lack of respect.  It would be funny if we didn’t know about the Herculean struggle the retirees waged to save their healthcare.  How does he have the chutzpah to say these things.  I cannot believe it.  It makes Unity’s credibility even weaker.  They really do think the membership is brainless.  It is such an insult. 

Susan Steinmann, UFT retiree

Monday, June 24, 2024

I'm getting ready to leave for a Retiree Advocate retreat today to try to make sense of what just happened. People are reaching out from all over and there is lots of talk about what it would take to defeat Unity in next year's election. But RA is going to focus on how best to run the 70k chapter, with or without help from the official union. We have lots to talk about.

There is more than a bit of sweet irony in Bennett's election and response since the last time he communicated with Mulgrew on the healthcare issue, Bennett was fired from his part-time UFT job.

Yesterday Mulgrew sent out his announcement. Today there is supposed to be an emergency meeting of the MLC (Municipal Labor Committee) today - I wonder why? There are also leaks that MLC is going broke due to enormous costs associated with hiring healthcare consultants' high fees for giving advice on how to create an abyss. MLC should ask for their money back.

Here is a video response Marianne made. She is somewhat magnanimous thanking the UFT for relenting. I find it funny that Mulgrew called me a liar at the May RTC meeting when he refused to take my leaflet. Mulgrew time and again claimed MedAdv was no different from Medicare -- "It's Medicare Part C," he would say - time and again. Exactly who is the liar?

Please read through the fantastic analysis by Vincent of the RTC meeting at the end of this piece.

 And Bennett's response:


Statement from Bennett Fischer, Chapter Leader Elect of the UFT Retired Teachers Chapter
June 23, 2024

Retiree Advocate / UFT stands firmly against Medicare Advantage. We won the recent election in the Retired Teachers Chapter by a wide margin – and the main issue was opposition to Medicare Advantage. I am the Chapter Leader elect because UFT Retirees reject Medicare Advantage.

In the wake of this historic election, UFT President Michael Mulgrew is withdrawing his support for Medicare Advantage for NYC retirees and is also withdrawing from the on-going healthcare negotiations for the city's in-service employees. I welcome these developments.

President Mulgrew should have acknowledged that he is changing his position because elections have consequences. He could have acknowledged that he is taking these steps because Retiree Advocate wrested control of the 70,000+ Retired Teachers Chapter from his Unity caucus, and because he sees that his control of the UFT is slipping away.

The delays that President Mulgrew cites as his reason for withdrawing his support for Medicare Advantage and the in-service health benefit negotiations, are not due to any dawdling by the city, nor to any disagreements he has with the city, as he claims in his letter to the MLC. Until now, Michael Mulgrew and Mayor Adams have been on the same page.

In his separate letter to UFT members, President Mulgrew correctly acknowledges that the delay in implementing Medicare Advantage for NYC retirees is entirely due to the grassroots organizing done by NYC municipal retirees and by the successful lawsuits filed on their behalf by the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees.

I disagree with President Mulgrew's analysis. UFT retirees are neither fearful nor anxious. We are clear-eyed and steadfast in our opposition to the privatization of our public Medicare benefits. We are not the panicked old fogies that President Mulgrew pictures us to be.

As always in politics, watch what they do, not what they say. This whole health benefit mess was brought on by President Mulgrew himself. He made a unilateral decision to fund UFT raises with money from the City's Healthcare Stabilization Fund and agreed to pay it back, and then some, by scuttling retirees' health benefits.

This would never have happened if President Mulgrew had involved UFT retirees in the union's decision-making process.

UFT retirees need to be intimately involved in all UFT policy decisions that directly affect them. This is the platform that Retiree Advocate just won an election on. We call on UFT President Michael Mulgrew to support legislation in the NY City Council, and in Albany, to protect our Medicare & Supplemental health benefits on both the city and State levels.

The way forward must be together.

Bennett Fischer
Chapter Leader Elect, UFT Retired Teachers Chapter

# # #

Media contact:
Bennett Fischer

 See Jonathan latest: Won in court, won at the ballot

 Here is Arthur's response

Mulgrew Says UFT Withdraws Support for Medicare Advantage:  Given his electoral losses, he has little alternative. But keep your eye on what he does.

I just got interesting news from the UFT. It appears that Mulgrew is withdrawing his support for the NYC Medicare Advantage program. He says the UFT is doing this, which is interesting. As usual, there’s no vote, no consultation, no nothing. Just Michael Mulgrew exercising his imperial power.

There’s also no move to support our bills in the city council or state legislature. Getting them passed would mean a lot more than hearing Mulgrew reverse his position.

I hear there is an emergency Municipal Labor Committee meeting tomorrow, so all the bosses can try to cover their butts for their disastrous anti-union action. We’ll see how that shakes out.

From what I understand, Mulgrew’s blaming the city for his change in position. They’ve been dragging it out and such, he says. However, while he’s stepping back from this program for the moment, Mulgrew has not actually said he opposes Medicare Advantage altogether. He indicates willingness to negotiate further with the city.

This is not a done deal, no matter what he or his BFFs in the MLC say.

Of course, it is not the city dragging its heels that’s caused this situation. MA has been halted because of multiple lawsuits, and they are far from over. Whatever Mulgrew says, we have to watch what happens.

We cannot, will not forget that it was Michael Mulgrew who initiated this. We will not forget that his Unity Caucus supported him every step of the way. We will not forget our voices being shut out from our own union meetings. We cannot forget the ridiculous UFT Facebook group that discusses vacations and does not allow members to discuss their feelings on being sold out.

We will not forget that, when we stood up for our health care, we were answered with personal insults, guilt by association and red-baiting. We cannot forget that Mulgrew lied, over and over, to sell this, and we cannot forget that he is now going to paint himself as a hero.

We will not forget Unity’s abysmal treatment of opposition voices, the paraprofessionals and OT/PT chapters.

Mulgrew is not a hero. Mulgrew has chosen to work against us rather than with us. He cannot be trusted, his caucus cannot be trusted, and we will hold their feet to the fire as needed.

Next week we will learn whether or not Mulgrew intends to deal with us in good faith. We will give him every opportunity.

However, we will continue to follow the words of Norm Scott—we will watch what they do, not what they say. Our activism has brought us here, and we cannot give that up. We need to be driving our own destiny. I don’t know about you, but I would not trust Mulgrew to drive my bicycle, even if I added training wheels.

Watch what they do. I will keep you posted as events unfold.


Vincent C. Wojsnis
Yeah, we heard her too. After listening to Weingarten speeches over the years I've learned to "listen between the lines." Randi is a talented orator. In her speech, she emphasized the importance of electing Biden over Trump in order to protect Medicare and Social Security, which I agree would face an existential threat if Republicans were to take control of the government. We can all agree on that. But let us not be fooled here. Randi, Mulgrew, Unity all support Medicare Advantage. They haven't moved from that. They continue to maintain that Medicare Advantage IS Medicare just as she has been on record defending UFT/AFT support for charter schools as "public charter schools" (while the only thing "public" about them is the public money they take to line their private pockets.) I HEARD HER TOO, when she pointed out that cities across the country are moving their retirees to MA. It's true that more than half of all Medicare enrollees are now enrolled in MA plans. How is this a good thing? Why isn't the AFT fighting this? In her speech, Randi referenced lessons from history. She wasn't wrong. As a former history teacher I can appreciate that. I too have a history lesson to share with Ms. Weingarten. In the 1960s big insurance companies opposed the creation of Medicare. "Socialism," they called it. They had Ronald Reagan do media spots warning of the "slippery slope." Unable to kill it, with the aid of both Republicans AND Democrats, in 1997 they found a way to "embrace" it. Embrace it, much like the way a python "embraces" its prey. And so, Medicare Part C was formed. That hasn't changed. I also agree, there were many "gracious" moments at the RTC meeting. But the vote wasn't even close. THAT'S what they heard. Years ago, as a new chapter leader, I never formally joined Unity (Thank you, Angel Gonzalez.) but I almost did and I was close enough to witness how they viewed the opposition. I can assure you whatever "unity" they're projecting here is not what they're saying among themselves and they will be actively planning how they can stop us. Kumbaya? "Don't listen to what they say. Watch what they do." (Thank you, Norm Scott.)


Bronx ATR said...

Great post! Everyone seems to have a different opinion on this, but there’s a few things that I think should be kept in mind. Firstly, Mulgrew lost and lost Big. The thing is, he knows he could lose even more. His reversing course is not, however, a mea culpa- he takes no blame or gives any apologies for his actions, his views, his insults or his lies. It’s just basically another con job. “It's the City’s fault! I’ve been negotiating and fighting for all of you!” I’m 100% sure that Randi made him write that letter in order to ensure that this situation doesn’t get even more out of hand. That’s for her benefit and his. It has nothing to do with you, me or any suffering teachers or retirees. Of course, I’m happy that the UFT did reverse course. But he still considers us sheep. The thing is he’s not a shepherd- no matter how hard he makes believe he is. When the wolves started encircling us, he refused to fight them off. Worse, and totally unforgivable, is that he joined them on the attack. Many were shocked by this. But it was totally predictable, of course, because it’s his modus operandi. He has a long history of screwing over members and groups of those he thinks he can. From ATR‘s to veteran teachers, to allowing teachers to be sent in for a useless training at the height of Covid to changing the rules on the fly after elections - his motives are always apparent and abject. If nothing else comes out of his ridiculous letter, it should be a resolve from each and every retiree and working teacher, who is paying attention, to vote this DISGRACE out of office at the earliest opportunity. 

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew is so much like Trump

Anonymous said...

The actions of Trump, with the brain of Biden.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew is on WBAI this morning and is not honest.