I just looked over the July 5, 2018 issue and saw an article on the Municipal Labor Committee's healthcare concessions that will be used in part to fund the less than stellar raises for the next UFT contract. City employees will be saving the city another $1.1 billion in part by putting all new city employees on HIP for their first year on the job. This precedent changes the UFT contract in a significant way. Article 3G1 says in part:
Choice of Health Plans
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.
The choice was down to HIP and GHI for no cost plans but now that is even gone for new employees in year one. They are now forced into managed care. Forget about having an option to keep your own doctor.
In addition, according to the New York Teacher, "The savings over the next three years will come, in part, from increased use of services outside of hospitals, such as in health centers and doctors' office, for procedures including arthroscopy, colonoscopy, radiology, ambulatory surgery and cataract removal." Less choice for us is a major concession on the part of the municipal unions.
According to UFT President Michael Mulgrew, this is another major union victory. He says in the NY Teacher, "Working with the city and other municipal unions, we managed to come up with a health care deal that will provide excellent services while reducing overall costs." He goes on to say, "All of the health savings will be ploughed back into the next round of municipal contracts to benefit our members." Translation, we are paying for much of our own raises.
Our President thinks it's real fine that we will be paying for salary increases with healthcare concessions when the City of New York has an $8 billion surplus. The city's economy has never been better but we will have to pay with givebacks for raises that won't beat inflation now running at 2.8% annually and expected to be around 2.6% for the year. Is Mulgrew guilty of incompetence or being in bed with management? Does it even matter at this point?
We already know pretty much what those raises will be because DC 37 set a pattern contract for city civilian workers of 7.25% raises over 44 months. It may be a little higher because there is .6% added in for other needs but our next contract for all intents and purposes is done in terms of the financial parts because of pattern bargaining. One municipal union settles on a contract for a round of collective bargaining and it establishes a pattern that all of the other unions are stuck with. Pattern bargaining has been upheld by numerous arbitration panels over the years. Do we need a strong union for this? My 4 year old son could go in and say to the city, "Me too" and get the DC 37 pattern in about three seconds.
Look on the UFT news page and you won't find information on the DC 37 contract anywhere. UFT likes to keep you in the dark about this. They only will admit contract talks have begun.
I gather some comments will probably respond here by saying that we should all protest by leaving the UFT and withholding dues. I have read so many insightful comments lately. I understand where everyone is coming from. The best line among many powerful ones to me is from Bronx ATR who said:
I don't want to leave the union, I want to belong to one.
I concur; I want to be in a union too. The current version of the UFT in many ways is a union in name only. However, getting in bed with the Koch brothers and other right wing groups who are funding the drive to kill the unions is not the answer. They would take away everything we have left if they could.
That said, I fully understand that NY is not like traditional right to work states. The government here is not trying to kill the unions. Why should they? We don't fight the government. The reality is in NY the government and unions are cozy with each other. Under these circumstances I believe the status quo Unity dominated union is still better than nothing in that it is structured in such a way that it could be a real tiger, not just a paper tiger (I won't even say a toothless one) if it wanted to be. Weakening a feeble,yet ironically bloated, bureaucratic union doesn't help unless you can replace it with something better.
If people who are unwilling to accept our plight are ready to come out of the shadows to start some alternate version of a union or challenge the leadership, then you might have something. Just withholding dues to save $1500 per year and stick it to Mulgrew is as big a dead end as any. Talk about what you are willing to organize if you are serious because the power of a union comes from people collectively standing up for ourselves.