2002 and 2005 UFT Contracts settled any health care changes beforehand and were attached to Agreements. Read the language for yourself below this article.
The new language in the 2007 Agreement is different from what we had in the past two Agreements. Furthermore, in our old Contract in Article 3G1 it says, "The Board agrees to arrange for, and make available to each day school teacher, a choice of health and hospital insurance coverage from among designated plans and the Board agrees to pay the full cost of such coverage." (emphasis added by us)
The new Agreement would seem to potentially eliminate this robust provision. We don't think we are being paranoid in saying that the Contract that we were presented with to vote on this week is incomplete and if we approve it, we are giving Randi a "blank check" to force us into payroll deductions for basic health care that is now free. Look at how co-pays for drugs and doctor visits have risen in recent years. While we acknowledge that Article 3G permitted the city and union to incorporate changes into the health agreement, we never had language talking about a future "cost containment initiative."
What does this mean?
Shouldn't we be able to see what it means before we vote on the Contract?
The transit workers were able to vote as part of their contract package on whether they should have to pay for health benefits that previously were free. All we're asking is for UFT leaders to be open with us about this issue. When we raised the subject at the Executive Board, we were accused of fear mongering by Randi. We just want to be told the entire story.
The NY Times printed an article Wednesday, November 8 entitled, "New York Looks at Worker's Health Costs." The first line says, "After announcing a tentative contract with the teachers' union late Monday, the Bloomberg administration signaled yesterday that its next major negotiating goal was to achieve savings on health coverage for 300,000 municipal workers. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is quoted in the Times article as saying, "Randi [Weingarten] has said a number of times she has a commitment to try to see if the city can't provide better benefits more economically." Later in the article the Times says, "In the past, Mr. Bloomberg has said he would like to persuade the unions to have municipal workers start paying part of the premiums for health coverage." It seems perfectly reasonable to worry that other city unions are having a clause like our Section 17 (see below) in their Agreements and that when enough unions settle, Randi as head of the MLC will then negotiate away our free health coverage and there's nothing we will be able to do about it.
We're not the private sector. Many UFT members settled for lower salaries to be able to work with young people as well as to get stable benefits and some degree of job security. Tenure protections have been steadily eroded in our Contracts. Lately so have our health benefits. The city has 300,000 workers. It can afford large group rates. With the city swimming in black ink, there is no reason to even consider health benefit modifications. Does anyone at Unity ever mention how higher co-pays for drugs and health care have eaten into our supposed huge salary increases? Meanwhile, many more of us are going to need the health plans because the abysmal working conditions we toil under are making us sick. One thing we can all do to stop this:
2002 Contract Section 5-Health Insurance and Welfare Fund
"a. The Health Benefits Agreement, dated January 11, 2001, is deemed to be part of this Agreement. The side letter agreement between the City Commissioner of Labor relations James F. Hanley and UFT President Randi Weingarten, dated February 8, 2001, is deemed to be part of this Agreement. Pursuant to those Agreements the parties have agreed to a series of payments to the Welfare Fund. Such payments are delineated in APPENDIX B.
b. Pursuant to the Municipal Labor Coalition Benefits Agreement, the Union Welfare Fund shall provide welfare fund benefits equal to the benefits provided on behalf of an active welfare-covered employee to widow(ers), domestic partners and/or children of any active welfare -covered employee who dies in the line of duty as that term is referenced in Section 12-126(b)(2) of the New York City Administrative Code. The cost of providing this benefit shall be funded by the Stabilization Fund."
2005 Contract Section 5-Health Insurance and Welfare Fund
"The Health Benefits Agreement, dated July 22, 2005, is deemed to be part of this Agreement. The side letter agreements between the City Commissioner of Labor Relations James F. Hanley and UFT President Randi Weingarten, dated June 30, 2004 and July 13, 2005, are deemed to be part of this Agreement."
Now look at the change in language on health insurance from the new Agreement which has been split into two sections.
2007 Agreement- Section 5 Welfare Funds
(This section describes Welfare Fund Improvements paid for according to the Department of Education with "UFT generated internal funding." What does UFT generated internal funding mean?)
2007 Agreement- Section 17 Continuation of Certain Health Benefits
"The parties acknowledge that collective bargaining regarding health benefits is within the purview of negotiations between the Municipal Labor Committee and the City. Cost-containment initiatives and program modifications in the City Health Benefits program shall be discussed with the Municipal Labor Committee."