Thursday, March 31, 2022
I saw this earlier. Comptroller Lander is not registering Mulgrewcare and returning the contract to the mayor. He uses the words "at this time," in his statement so this is not over but for now, this is positive news.
Statement from Comptroller Brad Lander on Medicare Advantage Plan Contract
“Due to the legal and budgetary uncertainties that remain while litigation over the City’s contract with Anthem Insurance Companies continues, the Comptroller’s office does not have sufficient information to register the proposed Medicare Advantage Plan contract at this time.
“Over the last 30 days, our Bureau of Contract Administration has posed detailed questions to the Office of Labor Relations (OLR) regarding various questions about the documentation and budgetary impacts of this proposed contact, and we appreciate their cooperation. However, given that planned cost savings are currently unknown, as OLR acknowledged, due to delays in the implementation of the new Medicare Advantage Plan and the court decision to invalidate the requirement for retirees to pay additional premiums to keep their old health plans, our office cannot currently assess the total cost to the City and fulfil our mandate to confirm that the contract is fully funded.
“We are asking for the Law Department to confirm that their prior approval as to legal authority is still valid, given the court’s decision, and for the Administration to provide a new cost estimate for the program, which may not be possible until issues raised in the litigation are resolved.
“As a result of these outstanding questions, following a rigorous review of the City’s proposed contract with Anthem Insurance Companies to provide health care services to City retirees, my office is returning the contract to the Administration.”
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
There is some hopeful news right now from Albany on mayoral control of our schools as the April 1 deadline for a state budget is almost here.
This is from City & State earlier today:
While bail reform highlights divides between Democratic legislators, they appear united against gubernatorial priorities like a four-year extension of mayoral control of New York City schools.
I very much doubt the New York State Legislature will do right by the children of NYC by ending mayoral control but at least they aren't giving into Governor Kathy Hochul's request for a four-year extension. Here is the full piece on education in the state budget:
The governor and state lawmakers are not fighting over Foundation Aid like they used to, but they remain apart on other issues. This includes extending mayoral control over New York City schools for four years, as Hochul has proposed, or a “New Deal” for CUNY and SUNY that both chambers backed in their one-house budget resolutions. Hochul might not back the plan’s call for tuition-free college, but she might warm up to other aspects like a push to help deteriorating campuses fund repairs. One area of agreement is expanding the Tuition Assistance Program to cover incarcerated people, but mayoral control and other contentious issues might have to wait until the second half of the legislative session.
In addition to being a member of the UFT, I am also in the CUNY teachers union called the Professional Staff Congress. The PSC is urging full member involvement in this fight for a New Deal for CUNY. I was asked to lobby my state representatives and given their phone numbers earlier today. The PSC has had many actions in this fight.
When was the last time the UFT asked us to get involved in anything as a collective? A long-long time ago. For example, the unions say they want Tier VI pension reform. Why aren't the union leaders telling hundreds of thousands of government workers in New York to be on the phone daily to pressure the legislators to make Tier VI equal to Tier IV?
Saturday, March 26, 2022
Thursday, March 24, 2022
MULGREW IMPROPERLY CUTS OFF TWO WOMEN WHO CHALLENGE HIM AS HE CONTINUES TO ACT LIKE A DICTATOR AT THE DELEGATE ASSEMBLY
For the Unity people who read this blog, we want to give you a little primer on some of Robert's Rules. This is especially for the guy who asked about a higher authority at yesterday's Delegate Assembly. Unity's new line of attack is that we in the United for Change opposition to Michael Mulgrew's Unity Caucus want to disrupt meetings while Unity wants to get on with the work of the Union. Nothing could be further from the truth. We want the rules of democracy followed while the chair acts like a bully.
President Michael Mulgrew filibustered for about an hour and twenty-five minutes yesterday and Secretary Leroy Barr took a few minutes more in an hour and forty-five-minute meeting. There was little deliberation in a body that according to the UFT Constitution in Article VII, Section 6: "The Delegate Assembly shall have the power to legislate all matters except those pertaining to the admission, suspension or expulsion of members of this organization." The DA is a legislative body that does not legislate because the President is incapable of yielding the floor to anyone who doesn't agree with him. The Unity faithful blame the opposition who made a few procedural motions (that is the only way to get the floor because the chair never calls on the opposition) that took up less than five minutes. Worse still, he cut off the two women who rose in a very rude way.
One of the ways to get the floor without being recognized by the chair is called a Parliamentary Inquiry. Can a Parliamentary Inquiry interrupt a speaker? This kind of inquiry according to Robert's Rules on page 293 is "in order when another has the floor if they require immediate attention." For those who don't know what a Parliamentary Inquiry is, here it is right from page 293 of Robert's Rules Newly Revised: "A Parliamentary Inquiry is a question directed to the presiding officer to obtain information on a matter of parliamentary law or the rules of the organization bearing on the business at hand. It is the chair's duty to answer such questions when it may assist a member to make an appropriate motion, raise a proper point of order, or understand the parliamentary situation or the effect of a motion."
Camille Eterno tried to make a Parliamentary Inquiry yesterday at the DA but as soon as she rose and said, "Parliamentary Inquiry!" Mulgrew responded that he was giving a report so he doesn't have to listen to her. (What?) What was the Parliamentary Inquiry Camille wanted to make but was not permitted to?
"Since this body does not approve the minutes at the start of our meetings which is what is called for in Robert’s Rules of Order, shouldn’t the start of the meeting be the proper time to note an error in the minutes of the February DA? It must be noted that the Minutes from February’s DA reflect that the point of order I made was - “The president’s report is too long.” That is mostly inaccurate. The point of order was that Robert’s Rules says, on page 476, “Strictly speaking in a purely deliberative assembly, the officers make no reports.” Furthermore, on Page 22 it states that the chair is to maintain a “necessary position of impartiality.” The chair is not neutral in his reports or assigning the floor. The record needs to reflect accurately what the point of order actually was. What is the process to correct minutes?"
This next question is for Unity readers: When was the right time to make this Parliamentary Inquiry to correct the minutes?
Mulgrew wouldn't hear the Parliamentary Inquiry and arrogantly stated to Camille that he is giving a report and doesn't have to listen. He then rudely cut off Ibeth Mejia's Point of Order that followed. Ibeth correctly pointed out that Camille was entitled to the floor. The President loudly shouted, "You're out of order!" to her. The chair according to Robert's Rules page 253 should state that the point "is not well taken," not scream at the member, "You're out of order!" Mulgrew didn't listen at all to these two women but later recognized male members who made parliamentary Inquiries and another procedural motion. That has to be noted. Only the two women were cut off mid-sentence.
Let's be real. Mulgrew is still upset that he lost two votes in November at the DA and wants the opposition silenced until after his reelection. The DA is truly the legislative body that doesn't legislate.
This is the Parliamentary Inquiry I would ask:
Parliamentary Inquiry: Since the November DA when opposition Delegates won two votes at this Delegate Assembly, we have not been called on to speak by the chair for three straight months. We’ve only gotten the floor by raising appropriate procedural questions. What do we have to do to be recognized by the chair to raise a motion or speak in debate if we are not friends of your Unity Caucus but instead are members of United for Change? We are a legislative body; there are disagreements and factions. That's how it's supposed to be.
The answer of course is the opposition will never be called on until after the election. The UFT President runs the DA like a dictator. Kim Jong Un or Vladimir Putin couldn't do it better. (Norm has more details at Ed Notes.) Robert's Rules are based on adapting procedures of the United States House of Representatives for other legislative bodies. Could you imagine if Speaker Nancy Pelosi never recognized a Republican? Would you call that a fair Congress? The UFT is virtually a one-party state. The only way to stop it is by voting out Mulgrew. If we don't, it will only get worse.
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Abridged as I can't monitor that closely on phone.
Michael Mulgrew reported on:
Albany budget- Looks good for funding but there are still politics involved before April 1 deadline.
We want tier VI reform- Teachers should not have to work 52 years.
Mayoral control- Law up in June but we want checks and balances. Mayor should be able to convince one of the PEP people he didn't appoint or it probably isn't a good idea. Don't want to go back.
COVID-19. We don't know how the BA2 variant will play out. We should know by spring break. You still get PPE and cleaning and can wear masks. Take the rapid COVID tests.
City schools restructuring:
Superintendents reempowered like before Bloomberg.
Parliamentary Inquiry. Mulgrew didn't take it.
People objected. Mulgrew just went on and said adcom and exec board made the agenda. Says no politics at DA. (What did he say? No politics at a legislative body.)
Calendar tight with holidays.
Medicare Advantage Plus.-Judge said it could go forward (if they offer no other plan). We convinced mayor to hold off until legal questions are resolved.We have to protect retirees and in-service healthcare.
400 person negotiating committee meeting Friday. Thanks people for joining.
Chapter Leader hub information from someone I don't know.
(Meeting started at around 4:20. Report still going with CL Hub info at 5:20.)
When there is debate, why doesn't he call on for and against?
Mulgrew says he calls for and against. We can supercede Robert's Rules. Mulgrew says he does work of union.
Staff Director's Report
Leroy Barr gives a bunch of dates including the election and the anniversary of the UFT.
Question about DOE help desk.
Answer: Call center has to work with them. Optical benefits the biggest concern so we upped that part
Question on school surveys.
Answer: Churn should be most important concern.
Mulgrew asks to keep politics out of it.
Question on alternative calendars and virtual learning.
Answer: Need to tell parents on alternative calendars. Some kids thrive in virtual learning. We need to have system in place as we are not tech experts.
Question: Will we continue to use election buddy
Negative CAR what happens to vacation days?
Answer: We are back in arbitration.
Question:Paras career ladder
Answer: Some paras are already qualified teachers.
Question: OTPTs owed pay for work done.
Answer: Filing Union Initiated Grievance.
New motion period:
Diwali holiday for this month's agenda.
580 yes 164 no on phone, it carries in person too.
For next month on COVID money.
Peter Lamphere speaks against but instead tries to extend motion period.
Frustrated opposition people demand democracy while Mulgrew ends the meeting.
(Mulgrew ends meeting. Says room has to be cleared. Unity has to tell their people how to vote at the NYSUT RA)
It gets worse and worse month by month.
Monday, March 21, 2022
Ballots for the UFT election will be mailed April 8th. United for Change is working to be able to get email access to all and should be leafleting in the schools this week.
Support Camille and everyone else, please.
Introducing the United for Change highly qualified high school slate:
It is very important to update/confirm your UFT mailing address asap. Go here to see how you can do this.
Email email@example.com if you need literature to distribute. We will try to help you help us to spread the word.
We also need donations to run the campaign. Please give what you can.
Friday, March 18, 2022
TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE USELESS PD DAYS MULGREW DIDN'T FIGHT AT THE HEIGHT OF THE COVID PANDEMIC IN NYC
I really don't understand why voting out Michael Mulgrew is even a debatable issue to anyone except for those on the UFT's payroll who are trying to hang onto their jobs. For everyone else, Mulgrew showed two years ago that he would put collecting union dues ahead of member health.
This is part of what we wrote two years ago on March 17, 2020, criticizing the useless three days of professional development that were foisted upon Department of Education employees:
PLEASE, PLEASE STAY HOME FROM SCHOOL TOMORROW AND THURSDAY!
I have heard all kinds of reports from friends and family in schools today. Teachers reported being sent to classrooms to plan for distance learning but nobody told me they were doing work or having meetings that couldn't have been done at home on a computer or phone. It was very irresponsible, in fact dangerous, for the Department of Education to send so many people to work today and not immediately close completely for tomorrow and Thursday too.
Under these circumstances and with a shelter in place order being imminent, I see no reason at this point to risk spreading the COVID-19 virus by going to work in school buildings.
Camille stayed home those two days. Many others went to work and too many became ill with COVID-19 and far too many passed away in the spring of 2020.
What did UFT President Mulgrew do when UFT members had their health put in jeopardy at the height of the pandemic in NYC in March 2020?
This is from another blog post from March 2020:
The Daily News published a message from UFT officials sent to District Representatives Saturday, March 14. This message was sent after the time the UFT now admits they knew buildings were unsafe. They sent it out because members said they were going to be absent en masse.
But UFT officials are privately warning members against that move, arguing it could be interpreted as a violation of state labor law, according to a message reviewed by the Daily News.
UFT officials told union representatives Saturday to "advise against" a planned call out on Monday.
“A coordinated sick-out will be interpreted by the DOE as an organized effort in violation of the Taylor Law and the Triborough Law,” union officials wrote its leaders.
“They will perceive it as a labor action and strike. Each participant is subject to a fine of two days’ pay for every missed day and arrest. However, even worse, the UFT will suffer greatly with fines and penalties. Please advise against.”
The UFT told the truth when they said that it was even worse that they would suffer greatly with fines and penalties. This blog noted that the Taylor Law prohibition against strikes was not going to be invoked in the middle of a pandemic.
The 2022 UFT election is simple choice:
We are not just talking about COVID here. There are many other unsafe conditions Camille and United for Change will not put up with.
You can vote for Mulgrew-Unity and just continue with further concessions, no matter the consequences.
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
State Senator Robert Jackson is a long time supporter of public schools and teachers. We have been informed that the UFT is considering supporting Jackson's primary opponent, Angel Vasquez who works for the Union. Why would someone who works for the UFT challenge one of our strongest backers in the State Senate?
Bruce Markens was a longtime teacher and served as UFT Manhattan High School District Representative for a decadewhen the position was elected by chapter leaders. Bruce is retired now and lives in Manhattan. He sent us this report.
Robert Jackson's primary opponent in the Democratic State Senate primary, Angel Vasquez, has served as a special adviser to the UFT, pulling in a salary of $118,765 according to the 2021 LM-2.
More importantly, he served as chief of staff for IDC stalwart Marisol Alcantara and most likely helped her solicit funds from Jeff Klein and other IDC members as well as from Democrats for Education Reform (the pro-charter, corporate Democratic group). In addition, Vasquez worked for a charter school conglomerate in Colorado called Strive Prep, according to his Likedin bio https://www.linkedin.com/in/angel-vasquez-29153092.
Jackson defeated Alcantara in the 2018 Democratic primary, despite a UFT endorsement for Alcantara. All the progressive Democratic clubs on the Upper West Side have endorsed Jackson, who has consistently fought against charter schools and for full funding of New York City Public Schools.
This is from KTSP TV in Minneapolis.
Leaders of the Minneapolis School District say they have no more money to offer as teachers continue to picket outside schools.
Wednesday marks the ninth day of the strike, and students have been out of the classroom for more than a week.
Teachers are planning to hold a rally outside Minneapolis City Hall Wednesday morning as the district and union leaders continue to work on making a deal.
The struggle between the union and the district seems to be at a standstill because of money.
However, the union argues it’s more about Minneapolis Public Schools holding power.
“This is not just about a raise,” said Greta Callahan, President of the Teachers Chapter of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers. “This is about dignity. This is about respect. This is about treating those that are closest to the students with the respect and the love that they deserve and that they give to our students every single day.”
The school district hasn’t sent back a counter to the union since this past weekend because they say they can’t afford to.
“While MFT would like a counter-proposal from PMS, we do not have the finances to expand our contract proposal,” said Kimberly Caprini, treasurer for Minneapolis Public Schools.
Foodservice workers could soon join the teachers and other support staff on the picket line.
We support the Minneapolis teachers. From the union's website, these are the class size demands:
Lower class sizes are a contract issue in Minneapolis.
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
IS THE STATE LEGISLATURE FINALLY WAKING UP TO THE FACT THAT MAYORAL CONTROL DOESN'T WORK AFTER 20 YEARS?
I watched much of the March 4 State Legislature Joint Public Hearings on Mayoral control of the NYC public schools. The law that gives the mayor full authority sunsets in June. Mayor Eric Adams is pushing for a four-year renewal. He and Chancellor David Banks testified in front of the Legislature who didn't seem overly impressed. Norm Scott has an analysis up at EdNotes.
Norm cites parent Activist/Class Size Matters leader Leonie Haimson who pointed out the fatal flaw in the Adams-Banks argument at her blog:
Another problem that both Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks encountered is a glaring contradiction in their rhetoric. Both repeated their now-familiar refrain about how terrible our schools are, especially for Black and brown kids. But of course, if true, this failure persists after twenty years of mayoral control - the very system that they claim is necessary to solve the problem.
Banks tried to get around this evident contradiction, by testifying that all the deficiencies exhibited by our schools are the result of the system that earlier prevailed, more than twenty years ago: "We are still dealing with the remnants of the past world before Mayoral Accountability was adopted. Corruption, patronage, and inequity ruled the day, and our students suffered greatly. That is evident in some of the glaring disparate outcomes we still see, especially for communities of color."
Yet this argument didn't seem to be particularly convincing to the legislators. In fact, in the first five hours or so of the hearings, while I was still watching, only one of them expressed strong support for continuing the current system for another four years, Senator Luis Sepulveda from the Bronx. A four year extension is what Gov. Hochul has proposed and of course Adams and Banks would prefer: The attitude of the other legislators seemed to range from slight skepticism to clear opposition, at least during the portion of the hearings that I was able to observe.
Mayoral control might not sail through the Legislature in the April budget bills where most Albany legislation is passed but may have to wait until June. Mayoral control was not included in the one-house budget resolutions.
POLITICO was the first to report the news on Friday ahead of the official release of one-house budget resolutions. The lack of enthusiasm from the Legislature came despite the backing of Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has proposed a four-year extension that would span Adams’ entire term.
It represents perhaps the widest gulf as far as education budget priorities between legislators and Hochul, who have enjoyed a far better relationship than lawmakers did with former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
That doesn’t necessarily preclude the possibility that it could still end up in final budget negotiations, but it’s a devastating blow to the Albany agenda of Adams, who had been pushing for another extension of mayoral control.
We need to bring democracy to the schools by ending mayoral control of our schools. Chicago just did that. The UFT's position is to tweak it a bit. Did Michael Mulgrew ask you how you feel about mayoral control? I don't think so. That is why we also must democratize our Union so it isn't just one person talking through most UFT meetings. We'll have more on that soon. Maybe we can end mayoral control of the schools and Mulgrew control of the UFT.
Monday, March 14, 2022
CAMILLE WILL NOT THINK TWICE ABOUT USING THE POWER OF THE UFT PRESIDENCY TO REIN IN ABUSIVE PRINCIPALS
We have another story about the abusive principal at PS 211 in the Bronx.
This is in the Daily News:
Parents and teachers are calling for the ouster of a Bronx elementary school principal they say has bullied educators, denigrated kids and parents, and turned a once warm and loving school culture into a hostile and chaotic environment.
Staffers at Public School 211 in West Farms say principal Tanya Drummond has waged a years-long war with teachers, sparking a mass educator exodus and prompting 55 of the school’s 64 unionized employees to sign a scathing letter of no confidence in 2019 blasting the “toxic work environment,” according to records reviewed by the Daily News.
Drummond has made derogatory comments toward and about kids and families — reportedly calling one eighth-grader a “Trayvon Martin gangbanger” and frequently describing parents as “ghetto” — while eliminating beloved programs and turning a blind eye to escalating safety concerns, the parents and staffers allege.
“We’re thrown under the bus, intimidated, threatened,” said Ramona Jones, a 20-year veteran educator who started at the school in September and got so fed up and overwhelmed that she submitted her resignation on Saturday, in the middle of the school year.
If you elect United for Change in the upcoming UFT election, Camille might not be able to immediately stop the multitude of abusive administrators that have been allowed to rage out of control by Mulgrew-Unity Caucus for years in New York City. However, Camille will change the UFT culture on day 1of her presidency from a culture of allowing administrators to get totally out of control to one where she will use the power of the UFT President to expose and fight back when our Chapters are under attack.
Camille knows what it is like to be under attack by an abusive administration.
This comment thread from Saturday's blog post tells some of Camille's experience:
We had a potential CL running but I had serious reservations when she was not successful in her own battles against the school.
How can we trust that Camille will be successful in our battles against abusive Principals, excessive paperwork, and the rest, when she allowed Principal Ayetiwa to just steamroll over everyone? You give her a lot of credit for being a strong delegate but rumor has it that he was fucking one his subordinates and he let her personal grievances dictate the way he treated people which included getting rid of anyone who she thought was getting in her way, including the Chapter Leader, an AP, a few teachers, and last but not least Ms. Eterno herself, all black and brown people. I know she won some of her cases, but she went on leave and then became an ATR, right?
Isn't it unethical for a Principal to have an affair with a Principal? Why was he allowed to get away with all of his abuse and is there any plan to rectify any of this? It's been a long time, but he ruined a lot of lives.
Sunday, March 13, 2022 5:15:00 PM
Glad you raised Humanities and the Arts. For the record, Camille was Delegate at the time and not Chapter Leader.
Here is a list of some of the people in the UFT Camille reached out to for assistance right from the start of Ayetiwa's regime:
James Vasquez, Rona Freiser, Amy Arundell and more. Camille stood with anyone who fought back and then was subject to viscious attacks.
In addition, she spent an afternoon with VP Janella Hinds at the 2016 UFT election count. Janella said she would be in touch to plan a strategy. We are still waiting.
We went to UFT Secretary Leroy Barr's office. He told us the UFT would not expose an abusive principal in public. He said we had to fight in new and creative ways. In essence, the UFT did virtually nothing to help the chapter.
Camille took a group from the school to Senator Leroy Comrie's office and there was some positive feedback but at that point she also needed to fight to defend herself which she did brilliantly. Her record was completely cleared. She helped others along the way too. There was a successful lawsuit.Any rumors of affairs happened after she left.
If Camille is elected president, she would use the power of the UFT presidency to expose any administrator who is abusive toward our members.She lived it and knows what it's like for a chapter to be under attack and receive virtually no assistance from the Union.
Sunday, March 13, 2022 6:15:00 PM
There were people in the Grievance Department who did help Camille with her personal defense. Then director Ellen Proceda was very supportive.
Then Queens Borough Rep Rona Freiser also assisted. It was the Chapter that was left basically hung out to dry by the UFT.
Sunday, March 13, 2022 6:23:00 PM
Sorry I missed the zoom.is there a recording?
Sunday, March 13, 2022 10:49:00 PM
I believe you James. The UFT representatives failed me. They also failed my colleagues. We fought abusive administrators ALONE. Janella Hinds promised support that never came. She wasn't alone. Anthony Klug and Mary Atkinson were equally useless. My point is that if different people were in charge of the UFT, maybe I wouldn't have had to fight alone. Like Camille, I will always speak up for myself and others. I'm voting for her. Everyone I know is voting for her. A union with a weak leader is no union. Good luck
Sunday, March 13, 2022
Some don't want to talk COVID any longer but this NIH study is something we should all keep in mind as we try to keep airborne diseases under control.
Saturday, March 12, 2022
UFT elections are in April. Please stop complaining about Michael Mulgrew and get involved with United for Change. We have an historic opportunity to fix the UFT by ousting Mulgrew's Unity Caucus from power.
You can meet the United for Change High School Executive Board candidates on Zoom on Sunday at 4:00pm.
Friday, March 11, 2022
We have had requests for PDF's of United for Change campaign flyers.
PDFs of two campaign leaflets are available at unitedforchange.vote in both color and black and white.
Please print them and give them out in your school. All we ask is that you email us the name of the school. You can go through ICEUFT@GMAIL.COM.
We will be in the schools ourselves distributing starting next week.
Email us if you would like leaflets.
If you are in one of these areas, come meet us.
Thursday, March 10, 2022
The Queens Chronicle has a very detailed article on the defeat of Mulgrewcare (Medicare Advantage Plus) in court.
Justice Lyle Frank of state Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled last week that the city could not charge retired city workers who don’t want the new Medicare Advantage Plan $191 a month for opting to keep their current Medicare plans.
Based on the court’s reading of city Administrative Code section 12-126, “so long as the respondent is giving retirees the option of staying in their current program, they may not do so by charging them the $191,” said Frank. “The city will pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees and their dependents, not to exceed one hundred percent of the full cost of HIP-HMO.”
City Corporation Counsel Sylvia O. Hinds-Radix said the city filed a notice of appeal on March 4. “The city ... is seeking a stay at the court’s decision while that appeal is considered,” Hinds-Radix said via email. “As the city considers its options, the Medicare Advantage Plus Plan will not be implemented on April 1.”
The plan, which was negotiated by former Mayor Bill de Blasio and representatives of the city’s unions, was initially set to take effect in January but was stalled until April 1, due to legal action.
The Chronicle explains why Medicare Advantage is not a good health plan:
The city has been paying for those health insurance plans, but they were going to stop as of April 1, but the court held that you cannot discontinue paying for them,” said Jacob Gardener, the attorney representing the retirees. “Anyone who opted out of the plan was going to have to pay a $191 a month premium and no longer has to.”
The plan had a limited provider network and a prior authorization requirement, said the attorney.
“In order for them to get certain services that they need the insurance company has to approve it,” said Gardener. “It creates procedural hoops that could be denied and prior authorization has been associated with all sorts of health risks. The insurance company gets to decide whether the patient gets the services that the doctor orders.”
A retired 30-year veteran teacher of the city Department of Education who lives in Forest Hills, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that he read about at least one retiree dying while waiting for a test to be approved.
“He was waiting for a test and it took so long that he died before the approval came through,” said the source. “That was absolutely horrendous.”
The best way to avert new healthcare concessions is to vote United for Change in the upcoming UFT election. We will draw a line in the sand and say no new healthcare concessions.
Free healthcare with a choice of plans is in the UFT Contract. The city cannot offer less unless we agree to change the Contract. Reducing health benefits for retired teachers in NYS without cutting active teacher health benefits is against state law.
Why Mulgrew agrees again and again to healthcare concessions when the law and Contract are on our side leaves me scratching my head. We can do better.
Wednesday, March 09, 2022
There is a good video on why you should never sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. The only part of this that doesn't apply to Mulgrewcare (Medicare Advantage Plus) is the primary care physicians needing to make referrals for specialists. The pre-authorization for certain procedures is here. So while we normally don't publish commercial anything here, this sales guy gets it right.
Tuesday, March 08, 2022
I have heard over the last few days that Mulgrew's Unity Caucus supporters are accusing United for Change of overpromising. Unity says the steady hand of Michael Mulgrew is a better alternative in the April election. With Mulgrew, you know he will agree to more concessions on healthcare and subpar salary increases. In addition, you can safely bet that UFT member working conditions will continue to deteriorate.
Camille knows she can start moving the ball in the right direction but to truly improve conditions for UFTers, she will need everyone's help. She hinted in a speech what it will take to improve working conditions. This is a major part of what she said:
My name is Camille Eterno and I am running to be the next president of this once great union. I have been an ELA teacher in NY since 1996. I have been a UFT chapter leader or delegate for 18 years. I have had to witness at close range this once militant Union that was not afraid to shut down the city through collective job actions deteriorate into a pathetic organization where President Michael Mulgrew couldn't even keep his members from being sent into unsafe buildings at the worst stage of the pandemic. In March of 2020, many of us became sick and scores of UFT members died from COVID-19 in part because of Mulgrew's inaction.. It is the members and student safety first if I am elected President and United for Change is running the Union.
On day one of a Camille Eterno presidency, if there is a school that is deemed unsafe for any reason by our Union experts including our people working within a particular school building, not the paid shills at the Department of Education, I will go to that school myself or have one of the other officers outside the building. We will be screaming as loud as we can to parents, UFT members and students that the UFT experts have deemed this school building to be unsafe and we recommend you do not go inside. If it is deemed unsafe by our people in the middle of the day, we will advocate that we all leave immediately! I don’t give a damn about the anti-strike provisions of the Taylor Law that President Mulgrew is so afraid of. Our lives matter more!
Those anti-strike provisions that include loss of two days pay for every day a member is out on strike in 2011 were ruled to be a human rights violation by a United Nations agency called the International Labor Organization. You won’t hear Michael Mulgrew complaining that this New York State law violates our fundamental human right to organize but any politician who wants a dime of UFT political contributions or help from our phone banks must agree to support repealing this inhumane provision of NYS law when United for Change is in power.
Whether I am the president or Annie Tan (candidate for UFT Secretary) or Luli Rodriguez (UFC Treasurer candidate) or anyone else is, it won’t mean a thing if we cannot inspire the rank and file that it is in their interest to become active participants in their Union. Unions derive their power from the ability of the rank and file to take action collectively. You see there are 180,000 of us in the UFT. Our goal on July 1 when you elect the United for Change coalition into office is to organize that 180,000 strong force into a united collective that is ready to fight for what we believe in.
I am not going to make any promises that I alone can deliver a raise that keeps up with inflation or that we can lower class sizes to numbers that the Department of Education agreed to in settling a lawsuit for class-size limits of 20 in grades k-3, 22 in grades 4-8 and 25 for the high schools. I can’t by myself reduce guidance and other UFT title caseloads either or win us a fair evaluation system or make the schools as safe as they can possibly be. I can’t stop the healthcare cuts for active people and Medicare privatization for retirees by myself either. I can’t do anything alone but all of us together can draw a line in the sand and say no more concessions and then we can win back everything that Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew and their Unity Caucus followers have given away since I became involved in this Union.
Monday, March 07, 2022
The email below went out last week to UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Camille invited Mulgrew to debate her on March 1. Camille is patiently waiting for a reply as time quickly passes.
Update: As of Wednesday evening, March 9 at 11:51, still no reply.
March 1, 2022
Dear Mr. Mulgrew,
As the 2022 UFT Election is rapidly approaching, I would like to invite you to a live-streamed debate with a mutually agreed-upon moderator following rules that are acceptable to both of us. This debate should be made available to every UFT member.
Since there is so much at stake, I am committed to working with you to ensure that all UFT members know where we stand on the issues that matter most to them. This election should be an honest contest of ideas, and I hope you’ll accept this offer to give members an opportunity to hear for themselves about our visions for the union.
There is precedent for an event such as this between presidential candidates during election season. As you are aware, your predecessor participated in presidential debates in 1999 and in 2001. In addition, two Executive Board candidates debated on WBAI in 2007; there was a candidate forum in 2010 featuring representatives from multiple caucuses running in that election; and there were regular meet-the-candidate question-and-answer sessions when UFT District Representatives were still elected. The UFT has a long tradition of open discussion that needs to be revived.
I await your response. In order to make the necessary preparations, I ask that you notify me of your decision no later than March 8, 2022. I look forward to hearing from you, and I am anticipating a vigorous debate.
Sunday, March 06, 2022
United for Change officer candidates Camille Eterno and Rosie Frascella were among the healthy contingent of United for Change UFTers who marched in today's St Pat's for All parade from Sunnyside to Woodside in Queens. Ballots for the UFT Election will be mailed out in early April.
This is your chance to vote out Mulgrew. Stop complaining and start spreading the word.
Listen to our daughter Kara lead the chant of, "Vote for my mom!"
Saturday, March 05, 2022
Starting Monday masks will be optional in NYC schools for anyone age 5 and over who hasn't tested positive or shown symptoms for COVID-19 in the last ten days.
Come Monday, hundreds of thousands of public school students in the nation's largest district and their educators can ditch face masks indoors, Mayor Eric Adams said Friday as he announced the looming end of one of the most profoundly impactive and longstanding mandates of the COVID pandemic.
Businesses throughout the five boroughs won't have to check vaccine cards at the door either starting next week, though they can continue to do so if they choose.
Face masks will still be required for students younger than the vaccine-eligible age of 5, though, the Democrat announced, which affects some pre-K classes, all 3-K classes and many daycare and kids' programs overseen by the health department.
Parents of kids affected by the mandate's lifting can still send them to school with masks if they prefer, and schools will have face coverings handy for anyone in need. Adams acknowledged it may take time for some to feel comfortable without masks in certain settings and he says the city fully supports their right to discretion.
Kids of kindergarten age or higher or staff who return to school after testing positive for COVID or experiencing symptoms also have to wear masks until 10 days have passed since the diagnosis or symptoms.
I asked my two kids what they want to do and they told me they both wouldn't mind continuing to wear their masks at school. We'll see how they feel on Monday.
The positivity rate is low now in NYC. That is good news. However, if anyone denies the impact of COVID-19, look at the CDC excess death figures cited in the Washington Post on February 15:
The United States has recorded more than 1 million “excess deaths” since the start of the pandemic, government mortality statistics show, a toll that exceeds the officially documented lethality of the coronavirus and captures the broad consequences of the health crisis that has entered its third year.
The excess-deaths figure surpassed the milestone last week, reaching 1,023,916, according to Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The center updates its estimate weekly.
Although the vast majority of the excess deaths are due to the virus, the CDC mortality records also expose swollen numbers of deaths from heart disease, hypertension, dementia and other ailments across two years of pandemic misery.
“We’ve never seen anything like it,” Anderson said.
In 2019, before the pandemic, the CDC recorded 2.8 million deaths. But in 2020 and 2021, as the virus spread through the population, the country recorded roughly a half-million deaths each year in excess of the norm.
The virus emerged in China in late 2019 and began killing people there in January 2020. It did not spread significantly in the United States until that February, and it wasn’t until the final week of March 2020 that it began to send the excess-deaths metric soaring.
Steven H. Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, said Tuesday that his published studies on excess deaths during the pandemic have consistently shown that 80 to 85 percent were caused by the virus directly. The remainder can largely be attributed to disruptions caused by the pandemic, he said.
“The economic and psychological stresses of the pandemic take their toll,” Woolf said.
The pandemic exacerbated existing health disparities and led to much higher mortality among Black and Hispanic people, particularly early in the crisis, research has shown. A Washington Post analysis last year found that at the time, in the 40-to-64 age bracket, 1 in 480 Black people, 1 in 390 Hispanic people and 1 in 240 Native Americans had died during the pandemic, compared with 1 in 1,300 White people and Asian people.
The United States on the whole has an unusually high rate of chronic health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and has a long-recognized “health disadvantage” compared with other wealthy nations.
That disadvantage was exacerbated by a weak and scattershot response to the pandemic, Woolf said. Other countries that reacted more quickly or took more aggressive postures to control viral spread early on were able to limit their death toll as well as long-term economic impacts, he said.
“We did not handle it well. That’s glaringly obvious,” he said. “The other countries got hit by the same virus, but no country has experienced the number of deaths we have, and even if you adjust for population, we are among the highest in the world.”
If some are reluctant to say let's just move on and try to forget about the last two years, it's understandable.
Friday, March 04, 2022
The UFT election starts in April and ends in early May. Ballots are by mail. Electoral politics might be playing a role in the UFT convincing the city to delay the implementation of Medicare Advantage Plus (Mulgrewcare). Michael Mulgrew had been promoting Mulgrewcare until a judge ruled Thursday that the law says the city cannot charge retirees or active city employees for healthcare unless it is above the cost of the HIP plan. This is the language the judge used in citing the city's administrative code:
This section states unequivocally that “[t]he City will pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees and their dependents, not to exceed one hundred percent of the full cost of H.I.P.-H.M.O. on a category basis.2”
The city and unions (the Municipal Labor Committee) were violating the law by agreeing to charge retirees who wanted to keep their current Senior Care supplemental Medicare insurance $191 per month if they opted out of the new privatized Mulgrewcare. The unions led by the UFT were trying to save the city hundreds of millions of dollars on the backs of retirees. Read the email below from the UFT and pay close attention to the words "until further notice" as to how long city retirees on Medicare can keep their current healthcare plan. The city and MLC could possibly try to force all retirees into Mulgrewcare and not offer them a choice. My educated guess is any changes will take place only after the UFT election.
United for Change will fight any and all healthcare givebacks if elected to run the UFT. We will use every resource the Union has including mobilizing our members. Active or retiree healthcare coverage must not be diminished in any way. What Mulgrew is going to do if he is reelected is unknown but look at his record. He has made cost savings on healthcare, otherwise known as givebacks, a major part of his negotiating strategy. It is reasonable to conclude that new healthcare givebacks for both active and retired UFTers will be coming when "further notice" from Mulgrew and Mayor Eric Adams is given.
It's not fear-mongering to warn people that Mulgrew agreed to healthcare savings in the last two contracts and now must find more. United for Change will not be bound by past UFT folly and will use all legal means to preserve the healthcare coverage we are entitled to.
The latest from Mulgrew and Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy:
Retirees will remain in their current health plans until further notice
After the judge issued his ruling on Thursday, we have argued that the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus plan should not take effect until all of the legal issues arising from the court case get sorted out. Now we have just received word from the city that the new plan will not be implemented on April 1.
Medicare-eligible city retirees do not need to opt out of the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus plan in order to remain in Senior Care or their current health plan. All retirees will remain in their current plans at the current rates until further notice.
The city’s decision is the best course of action under the circumstances. We know this whole situation has caused great stress for UFT retirees, but we hope this latest news brings you some relief.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew will share the latest information at our next RTC membership meeting on Tuesday, March 8. If you have not already done so, please use this online form to register.
One of the opposition groups in United for Change is the Retiree Advocate. They have been against Mulgrewcare all along. They will be holding a Zoom meeting on Sunday evening.
*This post was updated.
Thursday, March 03, 2022
Mulgrewcare appears dead for now with one of its chief architects, the UFT, issuing this statement after the judge made his ruling earlier today saying the city cannot legally charge its retirees to keep their current senior care plan.
Make no mistake about it, Medicare Advantage Plus was in large part the UFT's plan and now Michael Mulgrew appears to be stung by this defeat in court. He admits in the statement that the savings were coming on the backs of our retirees who would have to pay for healthcare that is now paid for by the city.
I am wondering why all along the UFT could not read a simple part of city administrative code cited by the judge:
This section states unequivocally that “[t]he City will pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees and their dependents, not to exceed one hundred percent of the full cost of H.I.P.-H.M.O. on a category basis.2”
The city pays, not us.
While Mulgrew sounds down, look at the first line of a CBS2 story on the decision:
NEW YORK -- There was a major victory Thursday for 250,000 retired city workers.
Workers win, UFT leader down. Something is mixed up here.
City retirees who want to keep traditional Medicare without paying a monthly premium scored a victory in court today. Medicare Advantage Plus is the privatized healthcare plan Michael Mulgrew and other union leaders agreed to with the city. This plan has gatekeepers who must approve many procedures that now in traditional Medicare are approved by a doctor and a patient usually. The city wants Medicare-eligible retirees to be automatically enrolled in the new Medicare Advantage Plus It is what we call "Mulgrewcare". In addition, the city and unions agreed that Mulgrewcare would be the only free plan available for city retirees 65 and over.
Tens of thousands have already opted out of Mulgrewcare so they can maintain traditional Medicare and stay in GHI Senior Care for supplemental insurance but the city wants to make them pay $191 per month to keep what they have. A judge didn't agree with the city and its union partners.
This is from the NY Daily News via AOL:
A Manhattan judge ruled Thursday that Mayor Adams’ administration cannot slap a financial penalty on retired municipal workers who opt out of the city’s controversial new Medicare plan, marking a significant win for a group of retirees who fought the health insurance switch in court for months.
The effort by the administration to levy a $191 monthly fee on retirees who want to keep their current coverage instead of enrolling in the new Medicare Advantage Plan runs counter to longstanding local administrative law, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank wrote in a decision.
The law in question, Frank continued, requires the city to “pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees and their dependents.” Any attempt to impose a premium or other cost for coverage is thereby illegal, he added.
“This Court holds that this is the only reasonable way of interpreting this section,” the judge wrote.
Steve Cohen, a lawyer for the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, said the judge’s order validates the concerns of his clients and amounts to an “incredible victory” for them.
“The city got greedy, and held a sword over the head of retirees and said, ‘If you don’t accept your new plan, we’re not going to pay for your health care,’” Cohen said. “The judge saw right through that and said, ‘No way, you can’t do that.’”
According to data reviewed by the Daily News, more than 45,000 retired city workers had opted out of Medicare Advantage Plan as of mid-February despite the now-rescinded financial penalty they would face.
Without the $191 monthly fee, how many will now opt out of Mulgrewcare to preserve what they have now?
This is not over yet as the city can appeal but the interpretation of the administrative law is quite clear. The city can also try to take away the option of keeping the current plan since they can no longer charge for that. (See a large portion of the actual decision for details.)
Is Mulgrew going to have the gall to try to spin this as another great UFT victory that he fought for? I hope not.
Here are significant details from the decision:
However, based on this Court’s reading of New York City Administrative Code Section 12-126, so long as the respondent is giving retirees the option of staying in their current program, they may not do so by charging them the $191 the respondent intends to charge. This section states unequivocally that “[t]he City will pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees and their dependents, not to exceed one hundred percent of the full cost of H.I.P.-H.M.O. on a category basis.2” Respondent and nominal respondent aver that the definition of “health insurance coverage”, as defined in Admin. Code§ 12-126 (a), stating “a program” as opposed to “any program” means that the City of New York need only pay for the entire cost of one program. This Court respectfully disagrees. NYC Admin. Code § 12-126(b)(1) is simply unequivocal and does not use terms like “provide” or “offer”; rather it uses the term will pay and it provides parameters of such payment. The definition in NYC Admin. Code§ 12-126 (a)(iv) simply provides what constitutes a program or plan that the City of New York is required by law to pay for, by defining the contents of such a plan. This Court holds that this is the only reasonable way of interpreting this section.
Of course, none of this is to say that the respondent must give retirees an option of plans, nor that if the plan goes above the threshold discussed in NYC Admin. Code § 12-126 (b)(1) that the respondent could not pass along the cost above the threshold to the retiree; only that if there is to be an option of more than one plan, that the respondent may not pass any cost of the prior plan to the retirees, as it is the Court’s understanding that the threshold is not crossed by the cost of the retirees’ current health insurance plan. This is buoyed by the fact that the current plan has been paid for by the respondent in full to this point.