Sunday, October 30, 2022


This is part of Michael Mulgrew's latest email today sent to active UFTers:

The city has dropped a bombshell that puts our premium-free health care in jeopardy. The city’s Office of Labor Relations sent a letter to the head of the Municipal Labor Committee giving the unions notice of its intent to enroll all Medicare‑eligible city retirees in a NYC Medicare Advantage plan and eliminate all other retiree health plans, including GHI SeniorCare. If the unions don’t go along with it, the city has threatened annual health care premiums of roughly $1,500 for all in‑service municipal employees.

Both alternatives are unacceptable. We will not allow the city to divide us by forcing us into a choice between premium‑free health care and health plan options for retirees.

Our fight to amend the city’s administrative code has been to avoid this exact scenario. We need the City Council to amend this code to preserve health plan choices for retirees and save premium-free health care for all of our members. The code amendment will affirm the Municipal Labor Committee’s right to negotiate health care for all municipal union members and the city’s obligation to offer health plan choices for retirees.

An immediate reaction from NYC Educator who said this in his piece: 

So let's see if I've got this straight.  If we don't agree that retirees must pay $5,000 a year per couple to retain the care they've had forever, in-service members will have to pay $1500 a year. It's kind of hard to see the union in that. In fact, it appears we're pitting one section of the union against another. 

The City has no right to impose any change on any of us in the municipal unions. We printed the 1992 umbrella union Municipal Labor Committee-NYCAgreement earlier today and we will print it again tonight. The key line:

It is understood and agreed that the parties will continue to bargain over and determine by mutual agreement the terms and conditions of employee health benefits.

Our friend Marianne Pizzitola from the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees put out this powerful video in response to Mulgrew's healthcare givebacks email sent out on Saturday afternoon accusing Mulgrew of "destroying the labor movement."

Another video from Marianne:

Saturday, October 29, 2022


Thanks to our friends over at the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, we have a copy of the 1992 Agreement between the Municipal Labor Committee and NYC that remains in effect. 

Michael Mulgrew in his misleading FAQs stated the following:

The MLC is asking the New York City Council to add a clause to the administrative code to codify the past practice of the last several decades allowing unions to be able to negotiate health care costs and give health-care plan options to members.

The city code sets a benchmark of spending that the city must adhere to when providing health care coverage. As it stands, the benchmark cost is the cost of HIP-HMO; by adding the clause, unions in the MLC can negotiate an alternative benchmark plan that costs less but offers the same or better quality of care.

The administrative code would continue to require the city to provide a comprehensive, premium-free health plan. The additional clause would only strengthen the current code by clarifying and reaffirming the MLC’s right to negotiate for all members and ensure the city must offer options when it comes to health care plans.

There is absolutely no need to clarify a right we already have or change the HIP-HMO benchmark where NYC currently pays us up to $925 a month for each employee guaranteed and retiree's healthcare is also protected by law. If they change the law, the City could pay a much lower rate. Do you honestly think we will get better healthcare at a cut rate? 

If the City-MLC create a better plan for less, under current law employees and retirees could voluntarily switch to the new plan and the City would save money as they would not have to pay the full $925. We would have the option to keep what we have or switch to the better, cheaper new plan, no need to change the law.

Mulgrew is just wrong saying the law has to change for us to keep the healthcare we have now.

Read this part of the 1992 MLC-City Agreement closely. It says,

It is understood and agreed that the parties will continue to bargain over and determine by mutual agreement the terms and conditions of employee health benefits.

"Determine by mutual agreement" is strong language that prohibits the City from unilaterally changing anything.

It looks like Mulgrew's sole motive in changing the Administrative Code is to save the City money on our backs with givebacks on healthcare.

Any change would also do away with our contractual right in Article 3G1 to a choice of premium free healthcare plans.

The 1992 City MLC Agreement:

Monday, October 24, 2022


Moment of silence for Barbara Miley, retired former District 30 Representative who passed away.  Current DR gives a small tribute. 

Three speakers for Open Mic. 

Speaker 1- Early childhood educators who came to Executive Board on September 12. Tell of meeting with UFT that did not go well. Met with DOE and it didn't go well. Next meeting went better. UFT seemed sincere. All were excessed. We think you are working with the City and not us. We are not trusting leadership. We need to help those who cannot help themselves. Work together to save public education.

Melissa Williams is speaker 2. Unpack what happened Oct 3. Nick Bacon introduced a resolution opposing Medicare Advantage. Ilona gave a heartfelt speech. Reply was to take a sign down and to tell her she had to watch what should be bought. UFT supports the healthcare for all act for all in 2015. Many UFTers lost family members in the pandemic. We've seen how broken the healthcare system is. Why isn't resolution on healthcare allowed to get to DA. Opposition doesn't come from a naive place. We have educated opinions that differ from leadership's.

Norm Scott-We need hours to discuss things. Mulgrew's FAQ is full of fiction. Healthcare costs up 24% going to stock buybacks, higher profits. What do companies have to gain by giving us unique health plan. Mulgrew said administrative costs. 15% administrative costs. Medicare is 2% administrative. This is like charter schools. They want to privatize Medicare. Medicare is public. Using same argument Eva Moskowitz uses to justify private schools. With Republicans in charge, public schools will be on life support. 

Staff Director's Report

Leroy Barr gave a set of dates including Teacher union dates. 

Question Period

Ibeth Mejia-Why do retirees pay any premiums for healthcare.

Joe Ustach: Retirees do not pay a premium for their healthcare plan. They pay but they get it reimbursed.

Second question: Why are we calling for a change in 12-126 when the 1992 agreement protects us with very strong language that says the city and MLC must AGREE on any healthcare changes?

Answer: We have to change the code to keep choice.

Lydia Howrilka: Why has there been no para chapter leader election yet?

Leroy Barr Answer: There is an IA Chapter Leader and there will be an election soon.

Mike Schirtzer: Where is the federal money going as we have no budget for extras like clubs and other extracurricular activities?

Mike Sill answers DOE says federal money will dry up. Extracurricular activities shouldn't be cut. We will look at your school's budget. Where is that federal money for things like enrichment.

Followup: What can we do? We are fine with opening up our books. What do we do with Freshmen who need transition to high schools?

Sill Answer: Money is hiding at City Hall.

Ronnie Almonte: Question about data and NY Health Act. Mulgrew concern is with the numbers. Where are those numbers? Can we see the data? FAQ links to article with pro charter Manhattan Institute. Where are the numbers that show the New York Health Act is something we shouldn't support? Where are objective numbers?

Joe Ustach from Welfare Fund answers that there were discussions at the MLC. There was questionable language in the bill. Questions about step therapies and colonoscopies. This will bankrupt NYS and put us in a financial crisis. This needs to be done on the national level. No checks and balances. He will go back and try to dig up more information.

Nick Bacon: Question on how many teachers are calling Member Assistance Program sfor help and not hearing back?

Leroy Barr answers that he wants to know who has not gotten a call back. Email Leroy but we must acknowledge the great work MAP has done. 

Followup from Nick: Given that GHI may not be the provider, is this problem going to get solved?

Joe Ustach: National crisis with psych assistance. Not enough providers in the nation to support the amount of people who need help. We have partnered with Hello Hero to meet needs. Emblem Health outsources to someone. It is being talked about, discussed, and pushed. We are triaging as we do the health benefit exploration we are doing. Conversations with Emblem about what we are speaking about. Email

Raul Garcia Social Worker Chapter Leader says there is an issue with identifying providers. We had a presentation from Hello Heros. Tina has a connection with them. They are doing an amazing job. 

Ilona Nanay: Thanks rank and filers who came out to speak. Why other members who came to speak did not speak during open mic?

Leroy Barr says he only received three emails. They could have raised their hands if they were in the house. That time has passed. They did not raise their hands when it was time.

Ilona says it is an intimidating space. What are the next steps for the early childhood instructional coaches? They are being replaced by non-union people.

Michael Sill answers that these questions were asked last Thursday. We saw a new crisis last week. They are being shown as in excess but not on other sites. There was confusion. Person wanted to see vacancies throughout the system. DOE taking snapshots of vacancies to show what is available but they used Excess Staff Selection System wrong. Why didn't they tell anybody? They should have shown us this. We wanted to send communication out. They are in excess so they shouldn't be going to the same workplace.  We still didn't hear about vacancies. This is not the year for this reorganization to go in place. Still waiting for DOE response. We will fight to see you don't end up in excess.

Lydia Howrilka: Over 50 teachers came to her were discontinued or didn't get tenured and are being held back from getting other positions. They have to go through OPI. They wait 3-4 weeks while waiting for a position. What will UFT do to move this along?

Mike Sill answers that OPI investigations and nominations. If someone is discontinued, they get a problem code which means a person can't go on automatically to a school's Table of Organization. High schools are a citywide district. Can't get hired in the same district, even if it is a new borough. Acknowledgement protocol goes in. Principal can hire someone then. Principals will sometimes see problem code and then blames system. Principals sometimes try to avoid difficult conversations.  We can move this with the DOE if principal wants to hire someone. 

Amy Arundell adds that District Reps call people and we provide openings for Excess Staff Selection Process. We help people who are discontinued. 

Ilona follows up with CUNY people coming in for coaching. What is UFT doing?

Mike Sill answers and then someone says we are all the UFT.

Pre K teacher with 3k and PreK class and no services yet for this year. If I fill out a sped complaint, am I burning bridges with the administration?

Mary Jo Genese says you or parent can file sped complaint. You can file anonymously.

Karen Alford adds something else. 

Reports from Districts

Several reports including Mary Vacarro talking about how many teacher centers there are. Mike Schirtzer reports on other events including making strides against breast cancer and a meeting for students to introduce them to union jobs. More reports follow. Tom Murphy reported on polls not looking good for the election but urged people not to be complacent and to vote. He added he didn't want to imagine what losing one  or both of the Houses of Congress and how we could lose rights. Carl Cambria (I believe) Anne Goldman credited with work at NYU for the Federation of Nurses. She put staffing ratios into contracts. We've grieved and gone to arbitration to force hospitals into compliance with staffing ratios. 1,000 nurses filed grievances. Hospitals had to pay 734 nurses $100,000 for work they did. Other unions can't grieve staffing ratios. Debbie Poulos reports on SBOs. October 31 on deadlines.

Leroy Barr reports on Smallheiser Award winners. (I didn't catch all of the names but one of them I believe is Mulgrew's wife.) Leroy says there are 3 motions and the final report on the election complaint.

Janella Hinds reports on NYC Central Labor Council's presentation on the election. 1,000,000 union voters in NYC. Worker-based agenda. 76% Democrats, 10 % Republicans, and many unaffiliated. 52% between 35 and 54. Only 31% union households turned out in 2021. 27% of union people turned out but 26% of the general electorate. We are all impacted even if we don't live in NYC. Goal is to ramp everybody up. Need unions to come out for Hochul, Delgado, Tisch James, Comptroller DeNapoli, Senator Chuck Schumer. All our friends. We want a yes vote on all 4 ballot initiatives.

1. Clean air-clean water bond act to sure up infrastructure. These will be union jobs to retrofit buildings.

2-4 are racial justice issues and LGBTQ too. We also want to measure the true cost of living. 

Vote early or on election day. Turn the ballots over to vote yes on the ballot initiatives.

Tom Murphy mentions the bus trip to the Philly suburbs. We will do another one this Saturday and another on November 5 maybe. Murphy asks about the sense of the room at CLC

Janella says labor vote is better in certain district. We are concerned about the downward trend.

Resolution on minority time at the Delegate Assembly moved by Nick Bacon. Resolution would establish a ten minute minority report at the DA from President's Report. Also, if literature is put out, the minority would have a chance to give their view. 16,000 votes.  There is precedent in the US in deliberative bodies. 34% of voters, 42% of teachers and majority of high school teachers who voted went for United for Change. Things we agree on and things we do not agree on. There was a 45-minute presentation. Disagreement on healthcare. Not asking for a lot of time. We get time at Exec Bd. It has been one year since we were heard from at the DA. FAQ on healthcare. responding to opposition says Medicare Advantage is privatized; union says it isn't. 

Philomena asks about automatic adjournment at 8:00. Leroy Barr will look it up.

Sean in Unity opposes. No right to minority report. Resolved shows this is political in nature. 

Lamar Hughes opposes. Can't find logic behind limiting President. 

Ilona says we should set aside time at the DA for all sides. Much discussion about organizaing the rank and file. Hearing about just getting information is antithetical to that. We want to hear dissenting views.

Lydia Howrilka supports the resolution. 114 people on the Zoom and countless others in Shanker Hall. People are hungry to hear all sides. What are teachers in schools thinking. To silence people who don't have the same perspective is anti-union. Why can't we have this space at the DA.

Leo Gordon opposes as there is enough adequate space to allow all sides to speak. We are not representing caucuses.

Ed Calamia says we need all sides to debate. After speeches, only 15 minutes to do work. We must allow the work to be done and allow opinions to be heard. Vote in favor as it will do a lot of good for our union. In the end, we will be stronger.

Mike Schirtzer raises a point of process. Hard to vote and decide if we don't have information in writing in advance.

Leroy Barr says we can't do anything if we don't get things until 5:45. All you need is 5 people to sign something, even if they bring something up the last minute. 

Mike Sill- Can't have it both ways.

Question called: Vote in favor

Motion to have a minority report at DA.

It is overwhelmingly defeated. 

Resolution on pension. Debra Penny calls for an audit of the DOE BERS pension system. Post found this information on the leader at BERS getting a big raise. Trustees said Comptroller resolution to fire leader and deputy leader. We asked Comptroller Lander to audit BERS retirement system. 

Tom Brown follows up and agrees. Over 5,000 UFT members are BERS members. We have an obligation to them to see that their pension is run well. 

Another Unity person does not identify himself but is a UFT BERS members. Occupational-Physical Therapists in BERS. 

Leroy Barr puts it up for a vote and the motion carrries.

Motion to limit question period to 15 minutes.

Amy Arundell argues to limit questions to 15 minutes because people are using the time to advocate.

Two other Unity people speak in favor. Says we are recycling questions. 

Edward Calamia speaks against saying 15 minutes is an arbitrary amount of time. A complicated question may take a long time to answer. That will discourage people from being.

Nick Bacon speaks against. Important questions won't be asked because people want to go home. 

A Unity person says we never needed to have the same people monopolize question period. 

Another Unity person says question period has become a political platform. Same questions every single time. We want to move on. Questions have been answered already.

Leo Gordon calls the question. Unity votes to call the question.

Unity votes in favor of limiting the question period.

Election Complaint. third and final report.

Leroy talks about complaints 2, 8,9,10, 19, 22 and 30. Leroy summarizes. 

2-Unity uses union resources to campaign for Unity with social media posts. 

8-Denial of access to distribute literature. It did not impact election. Concern that literature was removed from staff mailboxes. These cases were resolved. UFT responded and dealt with issues in a timely manner. UFT can't be held accountable for non-UFT members. UFT cannot be held accountable for denied access. Only in two instances could UFC fliers weren't distributed.

9-Allege conduct of Unity Chapter Leaders did not impact the election. Principals must enforce Chancellor's Regulation D-130. UFT had no chance to address them. Newtown and Cardozo, there were no copies of alleged email.

10-Unity Chapter Leaders engaged in conduct against UFC. Denied. Small number of violations but no impact on election. Allegation should be rejected.

11- Union violation on union time did not impact on election. DR gave UFT bag. UFC does not allege impact on election. UFT bags given away does not an improper use of union resources.

17-Beth Norton (UFT lawyer) didn't impact election with her yelling at UFC candidates. Norton says there was no yelling. It is not a violation of LMRDA

18- Mulgrew did not electioneer at the Feb 16 using the phrase of we do the work.  Camille Eterno appealed. Mulgrew called Camille out of order. He called things to go back in order. 

19-Mulgrew ruled Sill out of order when he denounced Ms. Eterno. Mulgrew corrected the violation right there. 

20-Unity didn't engage in electioneering at DA. 

22-UFT absorbed cost of literature. Salesforce is for emails. UFC tried to get Salesforce to talk about UFT account. UFT challenged UFC because political emails would make people unsubscribe. Cost was reasonable under the circumstances. 

30- UFT did not shorten timeframe to return ballots. This was not in election notice.

Mike Sill takes over and asks that the report be accepted. 

Ibeth Mejia says the report is over a month late in violation of federal law. 

Leroy Barr responds that UFC went to DOL already. They hired counsel. This is an independent counsel did the investigation. We will move on. 

Recommendation is voted up by body.

Saturday, October 22, 2022


Yesterday, the UFT put out a Frequently Asked Question document on healthcare.

We have the response from the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees and it is printed in full below.

The reality is healthcare savings=healthcare givebacks. Retirees and then active employees will end up with inferior healthcare if Michael Mulgrew has his way.

Please download and send the Fact Check to every city employee and retiree you know.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022



The UFT won a major grievance arbitration with a teacher from Aviation High School this past summer. Arbitrator Melissa H Biren ruled that the Department of Education must compensate a teacherbwho teaches an extra class daily at the shortage area pay rate and not at the substantially lower coverage rate. The rate is $7,258 per semester for teaching an extra class for a term as opposed to less than $4,000 if it is paid at the daily coverage rate which currently is $45.38 per coverage. 

UFT High School Vice President Janella Hinds testified at the arbitration hearing and proved to the arbitrator that the coverage rate (Article 7N) is only for emergencies but the shortage area rate (Article 7O) is to be paid whether it is in a shortage area or not if someone takes on an extra class for the bulk of a semester. 

Arbitrator Biren properly concluded that teaching a class for a term is quite different than covering for a day or two in that there is planning, teaching, assessing, and contacting parents involved when a teacher teaches a class for a term. 

It was agreed by the Board of Education and UFT way back  in 1998 that non-shortage area teachers could use Circular 6 (professional period) time to teach an extra class in secondary schools. Shortchanging teachers went on for two decades at Aviation and it is probably going on elsewhere as well. 

The UFT won the grievance in 2022 so it should be over, right? No, wrong when the corrupt DOE and weak UFT are involved.  

The arbitrator retained jurisdiction but the DOE has not paid the grievant who won and we learned earlier today that the DOE refuses to hear the grievances of 20 other Aviation shop teachers who have basically the same case as the person who won the precedent-setting case in August. The teachers were all getting coverage pay last term (finding FAA-certified teachers is not easy but shop is still not listed as a shortage area).

The case for the other 20 is as open and shut as it can get. This is from the UFT Contract as part of Article 22C, Arbitration:

The Board agrees that it will apply to all substantially similar situations the decision of an arbitrator sustaining a grievance and the Union agrees that it will not bring or continue, and that it will not represent any employee in, any grievance which is substantially similar to a grievance denied by the decision of an arbitrator.

The precedent is set by Arbitrator Biren on sixth-period pay. 20 other teachers filed grievances. The DOE, however, reneged on respecting the arbitration decision and the Contract. 

The UFT is so incredibly weak that they can't even get a precedent-setting victory enforced. Will they go to court to get the arbitration enforced? We shall see but any union worth its salt would embarrass the hell out of such an employer, would do tit-for-tat and not be cooperating, and would be demanding a substantial interest penalty. Friendly labor relations require both sides to respect the rules. The DOE does not once again and the UFT's answer to the teachers who are cheated is to wait some more. The practice of shortchanging teachers of sixth-period pay has been going on for over twenty years at Aviation. Justice delayed is justice denied again in the DOE-UFT world. 

Monday, October 17, 2022


If you want to see why we are in a fix on healthcare, you have to very closely read the 2019-2021 and recurring thereafter Municipal Labor Committee (umbrella group of city unions) Agreement with the City on healthcare. 

The City and MLC met their targets on savings from this Agreement for the 2019-2021 fiscal years from the last round of collective bargaining. A big part of that was forcing new employees onto HIP HMO for their first year on the job even though this is a huge violation of the UFT Contract that guarantees UFT members a choice of premium-free plans.

The City and MLC were not content to stop there but further agreed to additional healthcare savings (givebacks). Now, we are told we have to replenish the Health Stabilization Fund, a fund started back in 1983 that the City draws from. The City is always going to demand further givebacks on healthcare. Does anyone think it will stop at the Stabilization Fund? The 2018 agreement sets up a Tripartite Committee to recommend more healthcare savings (givebacks). This Tripartite Committee consists of representatives from the City, the MLC, and oh no, Arbitrator Martin Scheinman. 

Yes, that Martin Scheinman. The one who lengthened our 2009-2018 contract to pay for lump sum payments for 2014 retirees because so many people retired rather than wait until 2020 to get the money that was owed to them from work they did from 2009-2011. The same Martin Sheinman who helped the UFT and City broker a deal where they extended the time the City could pay UFTers back for that aforementioned interest-free loan we made to the City for 2009-2011 retro money that we ended up not being paid back in full until the summer of 2021. The same Martin Scheinman who decided UFTers weren't owed money immediately for working through the spring break in 2020 and instead gave vacation days. The same Martin Scheinman who decided to only provide narrow exemptions from the COVID vaccine mandate in 2021. This man is not our friend by a longshot and the City is happy to use him as they almost always get most of what they want from Scheinman. 

Where are we exactly right now with the Tripartite Committee?

Here is part of what City Labor Commissioner Renee Campion and her Deputy Claire Levitt said in a letter to then-Mayor Bill de Blasio last December. First, they boast that they got all of the givebacks from the MLC on healthcare from the 2017-2021 round of collective bargaining (2019-2022 for UFTers). Then, Campion and Levitt move on for more givebacks to replenish the Healthcare Stabilization Fund:

Most recently, the Tripartite Committee was tasked with looking at the status of the Stabilization Fund. An Agreement to set up this Fund was executed in 1983 to help the City and the MLC equalize the costs of the premium-free CBP-PPO (GHI) and HIP HMO plans offered to active employees and pre-Medicare retirees. Under the equalization formula, when the HIP rate exceeds that of the CBP, the Stabilization Fund receives a contribution from the City, and when the CBP is higher, the Stabilization Fund has to cover the increased CBP cost over that of HIP. Over the years, by agreement between the City and the MLC, excess money in the Fund has also been used to cover many of the escalating costs of health care, including the City's PICA program (which covers injectable and chemotherapy drugs), additional contributions to union welfare funds, and the costs of preventive care mandated by the Affordable Care Act. In FY 21 and FY 22, the CBP rate was higher than that of the HIP rate so the Fund will have to cover increased costs, accelerating the decline of the Stabilization Fund which we had anticipated would occur in the next few years. This could affect the City's ability to recover recurring savings from the CBP plan in the future, as they are derived from offsets to the Stabilization Fund assets. For this reason, the FY 21 withdrawal from the Fund, and therefore the savings, were limited to $600 million so that any further CBP-derived savings will remain in the Fund.

To address the Stabilization Fund, the City and the MLC agreed to implement a new retiree Medicare Advantage program which is expected to save about $600 million a year due to Federal subsidization of Medicare Advantage programs. The Medicare Advantage program will provide NYC retirees with a continuation of premium free coverage while providing important enhancements including free telehealth visits, transportation benefits to and from doctor appointments, fitness benefits, meal delivery after a hospitalization, wellness rewards, and coverage while traveling. The City and the MLC agreed to use the savings from that program to help support the Stabilization Fund. 

These are savings (givebacks) on top of the $600 million in savings we already gave back to the City in the 2018 Contract. Campion and Levitt don't mention the problems with privatized Medicare Advantage programs. EdNotes covered these issues as did the NY Times recently

For the city's Medicare disadvantage (Mulgrewcare), there would be pre-approvals needed for procedures that are not required in traditional public Medicare and of course the limited choice of doctors who won't want to accept the new Medicare Advantage. Campion and Levitt also don't say that Medicare-eligible couples would have to pay close to $400 a month to keep their current Medicare-Senior Care plan because charging healthcare premiums unless it is above the cost the city pays for the HIP-HMO plan goes against Administrative Code 12-126. A judge ruled it was illegal to charge anything in premiums unless it is greater than the rate the city pays for HIP-HMO which is currently over $900 a month.

MLC Chair Harry Nespoli says there is no plan B so the MLC and the City are now going to the City Council to attempt to change the Administrative Code which would impact both retirees and active members as the choice of premium free healthcare plans would be basically gone. At that point, who knows how low the city will go in pegging a new benchmark rate for premium-free healthcare if the HIP-HMO rate is no longer used as the rate the city will pay up to for premium-free healthcare?

What are our choices?

Professional Staff Congress President James Davis laid out three of them at the MLC meeting that was leaked.  Davis speaks around the 40-minute mark.

1-Keep the status quo and do not agree to any changes to the administrative code.

2-Give the city the change in Administrative Code 12-126 that it wants and risk much poorer health coverage for city workers.

3-Find cost savings in another way.

Let's now break down all three options.

1-If we take option one and just say no to any change in the Administrative Code, we risk ending up before Martin Scheinman again who will almost certainly side with the City and make drastic cuts to our healthcare.

However, we don't have to go to Scheinman and we can use the Triborough Amendment of the Taylor Law which keeps the status quo in place in any expired agreement until there is a new agreement. On healthcare, this is reinforced by a 1992 agreement signed by the MLC and City which calls for negotiations and agreement before anything on healthcare can be changed.  I believe we could wait it out if we choose to do so.

In addition, UFT retirees are protected by a state law that says retiree health benefits cannot be reduced by school districts unless a similar reduction is made for active employees. If we agree that Medicare Advantage is the only premium-free healthcare option for retirees, then it follows that the same limitation would have to come for active employees. That would obliterate Article 3G1 of the UFT Contract that guarantees UFT members a choice of premium-free healthcare plans. 

2-If we give the City the change to Administrative Code 12-126 it is looking for, we run the risk of having a very inferior benchmark premium-free healthcare plan created by the City and MLC which will most probably be a managed care HMO for active people and there will be a privatized Medicare Advantage plan for retirees. It would be administered by Aetna (Aetna finished second last time when a judge blocked the Alliance of Blue Cross and GHI; the Allliance dropped out recently). Aetna's Medicare Advantage plans do not exactly have a spotless record

The way Administrative Code 12-126 is written currently, the city pays up to the cost of HIP-HMO for all medical plans it offers which right now is over $900 a month. If the code is changed, we have no idea how low the benchmark will go but in all fairness, I believe the MLC would have to agree to it. Do you have any faith that Mulgrew and company will agree to a benchmark that won't limit care and eliminate premium-free options? Anything over whatever benchmark figure they agree to will be paid by employees and retirees.

3- If we go for the third option President Davis talked about, we have to look for other healthcare savings. Here are some of the alternative savings the City and MLC agreed to pursue. Notice Medicare Advantage (b) is only one of the choices for savings. Look at the entire list:

According to MLC Chair Nespoli, Medicare Advantage is the only option. According to the 2018 Agreement between the MLC and the City, this is not true. There are audits and other ways to achieve savings. 

I am personally intrigued by choice c. I have always wondered why there are something like 100 welfare funds for 100 different municipal unions. Why do PSC retirees have the same prescription drug benefits as active PSC members but UFTers do not? If there was one giant city worker welfare fund, wouldn't its buying power be much greater because of the enormous pool of all of the city workers and retirees as opposed to a bunch of separate welfare funds? It is my understanding that this solution was never even looked into. Remember, Nespoli said there is no plan B.

4-Mobilize and fight like real unions with over 100 MLC unions engaging in real actions for healthcare gains and not choosing which healthcare givebacks are the least damaging. The MLC should draw a line in the sand and say, "No more healthcare givebacks!" We would then use all of our collective power to say we demand better healthcare, not cut rate healthcare. (Ok, I'm dreaming again)

Saturday, October 15, 2022


UFT President Michael Mulgrew basically lays out the terms of the debate for the next UFT Contract in his email to members (read in full below). He writes that "city officials told us that in order to get the raises we deserve, we need a health care agreement that shows that we are on the path to achieving savings." 

He neglects to mention who will pay for those savings: Us.

Mulgrew also conveniently forgets that the unions still must generate around $1 billion in healthcare savings that the unions agreed to but have not given back to the city from a 2018 agreement the umbrella group of city unions called the Municipal Labor Committee made with the city. Mulgrew, DC37 President Henry Garrido, and the majority of the union leaders in the city tried to save the city money by pushing retirees into a privatized Medicare Disadvantage plan (Mulgrewcare). The alternative to Mulgrewcare for a married couple would be to pay close to $400 a month to keep traditional public Medicare supplemented by GHI Senior Care which now costs $0 a month. 

A group of retirees from many unions sued and won to stop the givebacks on healthcare because city law protects retirees and active workers premium free healthcare. Now, the MLC majority is trying to change the law so they can once again push retirees into Mulgrewcare and who knows what changes (givebacks) they are ready to propose for active workers? My guess is there will be one inferior premium-free managed care plan with a limited choice of doctors for active employees but workers will have to pay a monthly premium to keep GHI.

The good news is rank and file groups of both active workers and retirees joined by a number of union leaders are opposing Mulgrewcare. The powerful police and fire unions, the Doctors Council, the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY professors), and others voted no on changing Municipal Code 12-126 which protects our premium free healthcare. (Please listen to the leaked recording of the last MLC meeting.) We can put up a resistance. 

Retirees are educating the City Council. Maybe we are getting through. This tweet comes from UFT High School Executive Board member Ibeth Mejia:

Are healthcare concessions in exchange for salary increases that most likely won't come close to keeping up with inflation finally the time Mulgrew has proposed one giveback too many?

Dear ________,

Our 500-member negotiating committee met with the city this Thursday for the first day of bargaining on our new contract. Our team showed up in a sea of blue, making a strong statement to city officials that we are united, prepared and ready to fight for the contract we deserve.

This bargaining process will be challenging. In opening remarks, the city implied that rising health care costs will make it difficult for it to afford pay increases for its workforce. Similar to the message it delivered to District Council 37 during their first bargaining session last month, city officials told us that in order to get the raises we deserve, we need a health care agreement that shows that we are on the path to achieving savings.

This turn of events isn't a surprise as we know the spiraling cost of health care has become a national crisis. But we made it clear to the city that we are prepared to fight to make sure we get the raises we deserve while avoiding health care premiums in the coming years.

We do not negotiate health care as part of the DOE-UFT contract. The Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), the umbrella group of 100-plus municipal labor unions including the UFT, negotiates health benefits for all municipal employees. We will continue to go after health care providers, insurance companies and hospitals to bring costs down. New York City is one of the only municipalities that still offers premium-free health care to its employees, and the MLC has worked hard for years to protect this.

At the same time, we are moving forward with negotiations on the noneconomic parts of the new agreement. In the coming weeks, subcommittees representing individual functional chapters will begin meeting with the city and the DOE about their specific issues.

I want to thank all of you who filled out our contract survey last spring and all of you who wore blue to school on Oct. 13 to show our solidarity and determination to the city.

We are going to need to fight harder than ever to get a fair contract with the raises we deserve. But we are no strangers to a fight. If anyone can take on this battle, it's a union as resilient and strong as ours. Let's get ready to make our voices heard.


Michael Mulgrew

UFT President

Thursday, October 13, 2022


The piece below is from the Daily News. (The article is behind a paywall but we printed it in full below.) The News is reporting that the City Council is lukewarm about changing Administrative Code 12-126. This change would give the City and the Municipal Labor Committee the opportunity to privatize Medicare with a Medicare Advantage plan (enroll in Mulgrewcare or pay around $400 a month for a couple to keep Seniorcare that they have now). Active city employees could also see their healthcare diminished and premium free choices limited. 

For a rare inside recording of an MLC meeting, please watch this video featuring Marianne Pizzitola commenting on a leaked recording of the MLC meeting where they vote to go to the City Council to try to change Administrative Code 12-126. 

The recording is an eye-opener as the union heads look to cover the mistake they made in agreeing to give the Citys additional annual healthcare savings (givebacks) starting in 2021 in order to get the 2018 Contract with its annual 2% raises and then to sure up the Health Stabilization Fund. If the unions don't find the savings from the retirees to pay what we owe the city (go into privatized Mulgrewcare or pay $400 per month to keep what is now premium-free Medicare-Seniorcare), they have to find another way to save the city the money. MLC Chair Harry Nespoli says there is no plan B if we don't save the money on the backs of the retirees. 

There was a roll call vote of the over 100 MLC unions and an interesting coalition is forming that is against the change to the Administrative Code that includes the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY Professors union), the Doctors Council, the police and fire unions and several others. A uniform worker coalition along with professors and doctors might prove to be very popular.

Hundreds of retirees including our own Gloria Brandman, Norm Scott, Bruce Markens, and others were protesting at City Hall and later outside of the UFT Delegate Assembly yesterday to save premium-free traditional public Medicare for Medicare-eligible seniors. 

The UFT and the City-DOE are negotiating today for a new Contract as the UFT Contract expired last month. I don't see any possible way there is a path forward with any kind of raises until the healthcare issue is resolved. We have to fulfill our giveback obligation from the 2018 MLC agreement with the city before the city will even consider new salary increases for any city workers. Sanitation union leader Harry Nespoli makes the MLC position clear in the Daily News piece.  Look how he responds to the EMT union leader:

FDNY Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay, who was among 11 unions in the MLC that voted against asking the Council to amend 12-126, said he’s worried adjusting the law could hurt active municipal workers, too.

The law enshrines free health care for all municipal workers, “and by changing it, the city wouldn’t have to follow that anymore and can start saying at the bargaining table, ‘We don’t want to,’” said Barzilay, whose union represents EMTs. “It could impact everybody.”

Nespoli said such concerns are overblown and argued focus must be on cutting costs. “There has to be change,” he said. “And if not, what’s plan B? There is no plan B.”

The unthinkable alternative is to organize as real labor unions, draw a line in the sand and say no healthcare givebacks!

Concessionary unionism must end now or the city will come after more and more of our benefits.

It was also reported today that Social Security benefits will rise by 8.7% for 2023. City workers will be lucky if they see that total in a three-year contract as Mayor Adams waits patiently for the likely loss in the election of the House of Representatives to the Republicans in November. A Republican-controlled House/Senate is not likely to approve of much spending for NYC. In bargaining, we should be asking to at least beat inflation. If the unions stuck together and truly were ready to shut the city down, we would have real leverage.

Wake up James, you're dreaming again.


NYC Council ‘lukewarm’ on Mayor Adams’ push to change city law as part of Medicare Advantage battle: sources 

New York Daily News
Oct 12, 2022 at 6:11 pm
Mayor Adams and labor union leaders are running into resistance from the City Council over their last-ditch effort to enroll tens of thousands of retired municipal workers in a controversial, privatized Medicare plan, according to several sources directly familiar with the matter.
First proposed by ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city has since last fall tried to move the city’s roughly 250,000 municipal retirees into a so-called Medicare Advantage Plan. The impetus is that the Advantage plan would save the city hundreds of millions of dollars annually because, unlike traditional Medicare, it’d be administered by a private insurance provider.

But a Manhattan Supreme Court judge blocked the city’s Advantage plan this spring, ruling that its proposal to slap a $191 monthly penalty on retirees who want to stay on traditional Medicare ran afoul of a local law requiring the city to give its workers free health coverage for life.
In a bid to sidestep the ruling, Adams’ administration teamed up last month with the Municipal Labor Committee in asking the Council to amend the law in question so it’d become legal for the city to financially penalize retirees who opt out of the Advantage plan.

That request is gaining little traction in the Council, however, City Hall and labor sources tell the Daily News.
On Sept. 21, the MLC, which represents the city’s various public sector unions, privately pitched dozens of Council Democrats on why they should tweak the law, known as Administrative Code 12-126, in order to pave the way for Medicare Advantage. The presentation — given by MLC Chairman Harry Nespoli, DC37 boss Henry Garido and other labor brass — didn’t elicit any outright support from Council members, according to four sources present for the meeting.
“The response was lukewarm at best. Members seemed leery at what the unions leaders were selling,” said one source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the confidential nature of the session.
In an interview this week, Nespoli acknowledged members didn’t seem overly enthusiastic but said his presentation was only meant as a first step. “They weren’t emotionally upset about it, but they weren’t emotionally in favor of it, either,” he said.
For a 12-126 amendment to even be considered by the Council, a member must introduce it on behalf of Adams and the MLC. So far, no members have expressed interest in doing so, according to Council sources. 
One of the only members at the Sept. 21 sit-down who seemed receptive to the MLC’s argument for securing savings was Manhattan Councilwoman Julie Menin, according to the sources at the meeting. 
But Menin told The News her comments shouldn’t be interpreted as an endorsement of the 12-126 proposal.
“I didn’t speak in favor or against any proposed legislation. Rather, I acknowledged the fact that health care premiums are costing the city approximately $10 billion each fiscal year, and I am working on a package on hospital transparency to address that,” Menin said.
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens), who attended the MLC presentation, declined to comment. A spokesman for the mayor also declined to comment.
The MLC and the mayor have argued the savings inherent in Medicare Advantage could hedge against a city budget deficit that could grow as large as $10 billion by 2026. Without Advantage, supporters have said, the city may have to slash other services.
But the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, whose lawsuit prompted this spring’s Manhattan Supreme Court decision, has maintained Advantage would wreck their benefits. The group has pointed to federal studies showing Advantage can put beneficiaries at risk of losing out on “medically necessary care,” and more than 65,000 retired workers had opted out of the city’s plan as of July before enrollment paused because of litigation.
More than 100 retirees gathered outside City Hall on Wednesday to urge Council members to put the kibosh on the 12-126 request. “They need to hear us, and they need to protect us,” said Marianne Pizzitola, a retired EMT who founded the retiree group.
Meantime, opposition to changing 12-126 is mounting inside city unions due to concerns that go beyond Medicare Advantage.
FDNY Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay, who was among 11 unions in the MLC that voted against asking the Council to amend 12-126, said he’s worried adjusting the law could hurt active municipal workers, too.
The law enshrines free health care for all municipal workers, “and by changing it, the city wouldn’t have to follow that anymore and can start saying at the bargaining table, ‘We don’t want to,’” said Barzilay, whose union represents EMTs. “It could impact everybody.”
Nespoli said such concerns are overblown and argued focus must be on cutting costs. “There has to be change,” he said. “And if not, what’s plan B? There is no plan B.”

More on Wednesday's protests from Work Bites. 

Please note this piece was updated to show how the givebacks (savings) from the 2018-21 Contract have been achieved already. The city wants savings from unions now to save the Health Stabilization Fund.