Wednesday, November 30, 2022


This came in my email box this morning. Marianne's group is in court again challenging copays on GHI Senior Care. While the UFT is looking to impose more cost savings (givebacks) on retirees and active people, this group is fighting back.

Dear Employees & Retirees,
Last week, the Appellate Court, First Department found for the retirees, like we thought!   We said all along, we were going to win this case because the law is on our side, and we being retirees were very familiar with the statute and collective bargaining.  

The Court unanimously agreed with the Supreme Court, that the City must pay the full cost of healthcare up to the HIP HMO rate for EVERY EMPLOYEE, RETIREE and their dependents.

We are retired City union labor.   Many of us lobbied these laws, worked in offices where these laws were used over the decades.  We know they protect active and retired labor EQUALLY.  And have for over 55 years.   Its not an "antiquated" or "outdated law."   And this retirees group that fought the City and MLC in this case, did what true labor does; organized, rallied, stood in solidarity, got out the word, hired good lawyers, won the support of some of our former unions, rallied, protested, and we won...every. step. of. the. way.  

The UFT & DC37 has been distributing emails to active or in-service workers and their retirees telling them to call City Council and demand they change the Code.  They don't want you to know you are demanding your own diminishment of healthcare!  

To the in service employees, have you researched the history of Administrative Code 12-126?  Do you  know why it exists and the protections it offers?  Do you know if those protections exists anywhere else and why?  Have you read either Court decision?  Do you know the difference between Traditional Medicare and a managed Medicare advantage plan?  If not, stop!  And learn before you follow your peers "off a bridge" selling off your current and future health benefits.  And tomorrow, thank a retiree for saving your benefits!

The fact is, the Municipal Labor Committee negotiated a bad deal and got themselves in a hole.  And they sold off retirees to pay their debt. You will be retired. Are you okay with having your retiree benefit sold off?  We warned you all last year if this deal was permitted to go through, they were coming after you (active in-service workers) next.    You didn't listen.   And today, they are threatening you with premiums and loss of plans and still blaming the retirees litigation to protect what is rightfully theirs and earned pitting employees against retirees.   

WE ARE UNION!   WE ARE LABOR!  WE ARE RETIREES!   And we will continue to fight to protect ourselves, and you, if we must!  We know the laws we are protected by.   Get on board, before the MLC takes your health plan, and narrows the networks for providers you can see, and imposes so many co pays and prior authorizations, you will think you are in an HMO plan in 1980.   Every time they agree to a $30 co pay, or you can only use a certain urgent care, or a certain radiology or a certain "network" or prevent you from going to a specific hospital, or requires approval for just about every test of procedure you physician wants, that is a GIVE BACK.  They are limiting your access to your own healthcare.  

TODAY, Thank a retiree, because they just saved you.   Now let's hope the MLC chooses to get on the right side of the law and protect us all like they used to! 




And because we like a good ONE - TWO Punch....  Tonight we filed another lawsuit against the City over the GHI Senior Care Copays and violating the Judge's order.   
Read/follow that here! 


Yours in TRUE Solidarity, 
The NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees


We were trying to fine tune our 13 year old daughter Kara's high school application this evening. It is one day before the application due date. We couldn't get on the myschools site for hours and when we got on, it only put in a school we didn't want.

We spent the time we were waiting looking at Long Island real estate ads. Yes, one of the last believers in NYC public education may have finally had enough.

They did extend the application through December 5 today but this is an insane process.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022


I normally don't support when people who are not UFTers crash UFT meetings. However, the outright falsehoods that the UFT leadership is telling concerning healthcare impacts on all City workers, their families, and retirees so it needs to be exposed. 

Marianne Pizzitola, the President of the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees was listening to Queens Borough Rep Amy Arundell's latest Zoom session on Monday evening. I could only take so much and was glad to leave to attend another Zoom. Marianne called out lie after lie after misleading statement that Amy and UFT Welfare Fund assistant Joe Ustach were telling in the Zoom meeting.

Everyone needs to watch the video Marianne put up last evening in response to the UFT's very misleading presentation. Amy and Joe are UFT employees so they have no choice but to peddle the company line but at some point we need some truth from the UFT.

Some highlights of Marianne's total takedown of UFTs Amy and Joe

  •  This Queens meeting was dubbed as an information session on why UFTers should work to change Administrative Code 12-126. The meeting is in reality "a bullshit gaslighting session." 
  • Two courts agreed that the Administrative Code protects our healthcare benefits up to the HIP-HMO rate ($918 a month). Why would we want to give up that guaranteed rate? 
  • The UFT found savings by charging us additional copays and narrowing our networks. How is an increased copay a benefit to us? Savings are givebacks. 
  • Ustach's slide says the City is paying $11.8 billion on healthcare this year. Comptroller's documents say the City spent around $8 billion on healthcare in fiscal year 2022. $6.5 billion was spent on active employees. Only $1/2 billion was spent on Medicare part B reimbursements.
  • Joe and Amy's defense of Medicare Advantage Plus (MAP) is more bullshit. The City and MLC tried to force Medicare-eligible City retirees into MAP until a court stopped them because the City was violating the law. 
  • There are no networks of doctors one has to go to in the original government-run Medicare. Doctors don't have to accept Medicare Advantage.  
  • 500 doctors wrote letters saying they would not accept the City's Medicare Advantage Plus plan. 
  • The Medicare Advantage Plus plan the City tried to force retirees into, or subject them to a penalty premium of $192 a month, had 87 prior authorizations where procedures would have to be approved by an insurance company where original Medicare doesn't have prior authorizations. 
  • The Independent Budget Office and Comptroller have stated that the unions and City have used the Health Stabilization Fund as a slush fund.
  • The Municipal Labor Committee and City wanted to put retirees on Medicare Advantage or else force them to pay an illegal $192 a month penalty to stay with what they have now that only pays 20% of doctor's office expenses. The other 80% are paid by the original Medicare. 
  • A judge and 5 appeals judges ruled the penalty premium to stay in Senior Care violated City Administrative Code 12-126.
  • Uniform unions (fire, police and some correction) all voted against changing the Code. 
  • The City Council doesn't want to change the Code because their health benefits are protected by 12-126 just like ours are. 
  • This goes back to 2014 when the UFT Memorandum of Agreement used money from the Stabilization fund to pay for UFT raises.
  • The courts have not limited union collective bargaining rights. City law, the State Taylor Law and the 1992 MLC-NYC letter of agreement all guarantee collective bargaining on healthcare.
  • NYC Organization of Retirees is not a small, vocal group as Amy says. There are around 50,000 of us. 
The ICE blog fact-checked the UFT Contract claim easily and sure enough there it is in the 2014 MOA under H Healthcare Savings:

Stabilization Fund: (1) Effective July 1, 2014, the Stabilization Fund shall convey $1 billion to the City of New York to be used in support of the pro rata funding of this agreement. 

There's more but I suggest you play the video to hear Marianne's passion as opposed to Amy and Joe's clueless attempt to get us to fight against our own interests. 

Marianne fact checks Amy on Twitter:

This story is continually updating and we will provide more information when we get it.

Monday, November 28, 2022


There is plenty of encouraging news in the fight to preserve choices of premium free healthcare for City workers and retirees but the fight is not nearly over.

An appeals court ruled 5-0 that the City cannot charge premiums for GHI Senior Care because the cost of this Medicare supplemental plan does not exceed the HIP-HMO rate. City Administrative Code 12-126 guarantees free healthcare up to that rate for City workers and retirees. Here are excerpts from the decision of the appellate court upholding the original lower court decision that were in a Chief article:

“The court correctly determined that Administrative Code § 12-126 (b) (1) requires respondents to pay the entire cost, up to the statutory cap, of any health insurance plan a retiree selects. ”

Any plan a retiree selects means retirees have a choice of health plans as I read this. 


"[n]othing in the statutory text or history supports respondents’ interpretation that the provision is satisfied so long as they pay for the costs of one of the health insurance plans offered to retirees, which they have determined to be the Medicare Advantage Plus Plan."

Michael Mulgrew and other city union labor leaders are now trying to double-down on going around the courts by having their rank and file call City Council Members to get the  City Council to vote to change 12-126 so the City can offer a cut rate privatized Medicare Advantage plan (Mulgrewcare) and then make everyone who doesn't want the cut-rate plan have to pay up for something better. This change would likely not just affect retirees but active workers would also probably have to settle for a cut-rate premium-free plan or pay to keep what they have now.

A number of unions see through the Mulgrewcare scam and are urging members to call and tell the City Council not to change 12-126. These enlightened unions want to preserve the guarantees that are a part of city law. These unions come from across the political spectrum.

This came our way from the Retired Lieutenants Association:

Below is part of an email from the President of the Professional Staff Congress, James Davis, who also opposes changing the Code:

"As you know, the PSC was among the few MLC unions that voted against the proposed Administrative Code change, and we continue to oppose it. PSC members have sent nearly 5,000 letters to City Council representatives - send yours today if you have not done so already."

Call your Council Member. Tell them not to change 12-126. 

Full disclosure, I am a proud PSC member as well as being a member of the UFT and my brother is a member of the NYPD Captain's Endowment Association who also oppose changing 12-126. We differ on a number of issues but as City retirees, my brother and I agree on preserving 12-126. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


 Just got the news the appeal decision is out.

Here is a link to EdNotes.  

The statement from Marianne:

Today, the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees won their case in the First Department NY Appellate Court.   The Court was very clear Code § 12-126 (b) (1) provides: “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 H.I.P.-H.M.O. on a category basis.”

The court correctly determined that Administrative Code § 12-126 (b) (1) requires respondents to pay the entire cost, up to the statutory cap, of any health insurance plan a retiree selects.

The Retirees applaud the decision.

Marianne Pizzitola


NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees

We need to keep up the fight because the UFT leadership is doubling down on its misinformation/disinformation campaign with the City Council.

Monday, November 21, 2022


The Executive Board was in-person only tonight but not Executive session. I did not attend. 

However, reports are filtering out that the 7 opposition high school representatives introduced resolutions on standing up to abusive administrators and for the UFT to reverse course and oppose changing City Administrative Code 12-126 to protect healthcare for active and retired UFTers.

Unity naturally voted against the resolution on standing up to abusive administrators. 

Unity also voted down opposition's resolution to keep Administrative Code 12-126 to preserve our healthcare.

You can read a full report on tonight's meeting from New Action's Nick Bacon, a High School Exec Bd member.

Aviation High School Chapter Leader Ibeth Mejia has allowed us to print in full her argument in support of the healthcare resolution.

Ibeth Mejia, Aviation HS, High School Executive Board:

I support the UFT changing course to come out in opposition to amending Administrative Code 12-126.  Most retirees do not want to be forced into a privatized Medicare Advantage plan where some health insurance company can get even richer on our backs. Strong unions like the UFT should be taking on these insurance giants. 12-126 gives us a nice benchmark plan with the HIP-HMO rate. Leave it alone and find savings elsewhere. The Taylor Law protects healthcare collective bargaining rights. It is a mandatory subject of bargaining.The moratorium clause is part of a state law that protects school district retirees in NY. I am not a lawyer but I like our chances if the City or Arbitrator Sheinman try to impose something unpopular on our retirees or active people. Privatized Medicare is unpopular. This is from Workbites.

Council Member Joann Ariola (R-Queens) told Work-Bites she had fielded thousands of queries from constituents on the Medicare Advantage controversy and that it was running 10 to 1 against making the change in the Administrative Code sought by Mayor Adams and the MLC leadership.

Brooklyn Council Member Charles Barron, (D-Brooklyn) said he was “100 percent with the retirees…because I think they have to keep the commitment they have because it’s beneficial for those who paid their dues and I think the Medicare Advantage approach is privatizing."

"Healthcare costs are out of control,” said Council Member Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan). "I have been lobbied by both sides but at this point, I am supportive of the retirees.”

That is a Republican, a left wing Democrat and a more  moderate Democrat I just cited.

Now I would like to cite a past UFT President: the legendary AL Shanker. He said the Union should avoid splitter issues. By seeing what the Council Members are saying, this is clearly a splitter issue. It is the MLC leaderships and their supporters against the rank and file retirees.

Change course. Let's play this out. If the MLC leadership gets a bill in front of the Council, there have to be public hearings. I can pretty much guarantee the MLC leadership will be standing against 9-11 survivors and heroes who will be at the Council en masse to oppose this change to 12-126 that will force them into privatized Medicare. Please don't do it. There is no MLC consensus on revising 12-126. Most of the uniform unions who are quite popular oppose changing 12-126 and they blame the UFT for leading this battle. Don't split the labor movement and don't try to balance the City books on the backs of retirees by privatizing their healthcare. We need to buy time until we can work for a national single payer system like every developed nation on earth has except for the USA. 

I suggest putting together a blue ribbon panel as has been proposed. Find other ways to save money with new audits and other savings but please leave the 12-126 as it is and support this resolution.

Friday, November 18, 2022


Please listen in to 99.5 FM at 1 PM Saturday as the leader in the fight against Mulgrewcare Marianne Pizzitola is on WBAI's Talk out of School.


If you missed the live broadcast, the podcast is now available and well worth listening to. Marianne explains the situation with healthcare for City workers and retirees clearly. Dan asks excellent questions.

Click here for a Talk out of School archives.

Norm summarizes many updates on Mulgrewcare and has links up at EdNotes.


Below is a part of my report from Wednesday's Delegate Assembly meeting where UFT President Michael Mulgrew basically concedes retirees who pay premiums for healthcare have been getting illegally ripped off.

This is from my account of Michael Mulgrew's President's Report:

In court case, the judge ruled, wrongly we believe, that any plan below the HIP rate must be given for free. We have 8 plans for retirees. 2 are free; 6 are pay-up plans. Those 6 pay-up plans according to the judge must be premium free. GHI doesn't have many providers in Nevada. Judges ruling says the city doesn't have to pay for more than one plan. The judge ruled the city can go forward with Medicare Advantage. We want basic union authority. Collective bargaining rights are the basis for all of our rights. City negotiated pay-up plans. All of us have price tag on us. 100% of cost we have to figure out how to pay for but for retirees, they will never reach the HIP-HMO rate.

From the question period:

Question: Taylor Law protects right to collective bargaining?

Mulgrew Answer: 6 pay-up plans that retirees have to pay for. We want access to premium free health plan. City has a ruling that says they have to offer one plan. They cannot charge up for it unless it is above the HIP rate.  It ensures that if we get a Medicare Advantage plan, there will be no option. We have 9,000 policy holders in other plans. They would lose it. There is collective bargaining under the Taylor Law. Right to negotiate payups for retirees has been taken away from us. All we want is right to negotiate as we have negotiated for 40 years. We want to clarify our right to negotiate what we have negotiated for over 40 years. We have to get something that has been taken away from us.

Let us now look at what the current Administrative Code 12-126 says:

 (1) 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 H.I.P.-H.M.O. on a category basis.

Where does it say the City can't offer multiple plans?

What is the full cost of the HIP-HMO rate? It is about $925 per month. The City is required to pay the entire cost of health insurance up to that rate under the current law.

The City has not been meeting its legal obligation for thousands of retirees. Many Medicare-eligible retirees are being ripped off by being charged premiums for many years. I gather the City has been given a blessing by the Municipal Labor Committee to illegally charge these premiums. Look at the rate chart for Medicare Eligible retirees. Five of the 12 plans listed charge monthly healthcare premiums for retirees. Mulgrew told the Delegates these are pay-up plans. They only cover 20% of medical expenses; Medicare takes care of the other 80%. They are inexpensive, much less than the HIP-HMO rate so why does anyone have to pay up for them?

If you look at the actual rates on the COBRA page, not one of the retiree plans exceeds the HIP-HMO rate. (The City can charge a 2% administrative fee for COBRA so take a few dollars off what is listed on the COBRA page for the actual monthly rate.) 

  • The law says the City has to pay the entire cost for healthcare up to the HIP-HMO rate; a rate that is over $900 a month.
  • None of the retiree plans costs over $900 a month. 
  • Why is there any premium for any city retiree who enrolls in a Medicare supplemental plan?  

It looks illegal to this non-lawyer. 

Mulgrew's new argument appears to be that we must change the law so the City-MLC can create a new cheaper benchmark healthcare plan. At that point, the City will be able to legally charge retirees who don't take their new cheap plan a monthly premium for what the City is currently illegally charging them for. 

Marianne Pizzitola, President of the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees, is all over this. (The "he" who she refers to in this tweet is Mulgrew.)

In addition, the judge didn't say anything limiting our collective bargaining rights. They are subject to the Taylor Law where healthcare is a mandatory subject of bargaining. Nothing on healthcare can change without union agreement. Also, remember for school district employees state law says a school district cannot diminish retiree health benefits unless they do the same to active workers.

Why the desperation of Mulgrew to giveback on healthcare?

Wednesday, November 16, 2022


The meeting opened with President Michael Mulgrew having a moment of silence for two UFTers who passed: Barbara M. retired D30 Rep and former Edison Chapter Leader Vivian Noble. 

Salute SRPS.

President's Report


No red wave. We supported Republican Senate in NYS years ago. Joe Bruno stopped tenure from not being a right in NY. We are going to support people who support public education and teacher unions. Republicans use public education today to fearmonger. They say teachers are trying to indoctrinate children. We know right now that the people who are backing public education: President backs public schools and NLRB supports workers. Governor Hochul thanked teachers. She did more in a year than other governors did in their entire terms. Fetterman thanked us. Retirees went to Pa. Across the country, 95% of ballot initiatives on behalf of public education won. We have Senate. We will probably lose House. It was a good election night in terms of public education. Florida was not a good night for public education. Our retirees were trying to fight back in Florida. Overall it was a good night. Teachers unions did a million-dollar expenditure on behalf of the governor in the last week before the election. We don't want to go back on public education. Prognosticators expected Republican wave. Somebody else announced last night that they were running for president. We support anyone's right to run, Next big cycle for us is City Council next June. We can relax from politics for a while.

The Gamma system sucks. Nobody is being forced to use Gamma. Skedula is gone because of hack last year. Illumination bought Skedula and was responsible for a data breach. DOE IT (tech) people put Gamma together quickly and put it with STARS which is from 1985 and an old program. This is frustrating. Can DOE get off 1985 platform; at least get a 2010 system. Grievance Department wanted to know if people are being forced to use this. We have duplication and redundancy provisions to protect us in contract.

Early Childhood educators

3k downsizing, we did not react well to it being downsized. We didn't think this would be a large grade. DOE planned for 55,000; only got 35,000. People keep 3-year-olds home if they can. Dismantling 3-k is like when Bloomberg tried to close schools. We will fight to keep early childhood programs. DOE agrees but we need to know what changes are. They can't base changes on hearsay from administrators. Chancellor sat down with us. We hear form some DOE administrators that social workers just sit around and don't go to schools. Couldn't attend rally on Friday because of death in family, sorry. New people running early childhood. We have to move sites to where the kids are. 

Teacher Union Day.

Shout out to Shelvy Young Abrams and everything they did. 1,000 there. Congratulates honorees.


Chancellor said Brooklyn Queens Day would be swapped and became Chancellor's Day. When cities merged, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island had to have the schools closed for kids on that day. Mayor says next year Diwali will be day off. They have to change law in Albany. We don't have days to give in calendar. It is tight going from day after Labor Day through June 28 (except for certain titles). We support Diwali recognition. We still don't have Saint Patrick's Day.


Subcommittees met. Next full meeting of Negotiating Committee will be November 30. 

Audit on Board of Education Retirement System

Some of our titles in BERS. Comptroller auditing it. OTPTs want to get into TRS. BERS has high administrative costs. This is a state law issue. Calling for pension advice in BERS is like calling HR Connect. We have to make OT-PTs pedagogical, not health. We must look at the plusses and minuses. 

Dominican teachers

We represent them. Numerous investigations going on at every level. Teachers recruited from DR had to live in certain houses and pay specific rents. This was severe exploitation. DOE told us in past. They didn't get proper visas. These teachers came to our system. We are trying to get these people supported. Something has to be done here.

Member hub

We will launch it in December and then more in January. People have different ways of doing things and we will pilot it and make changes in January.


In service committee is working. This is our biggest crisis. We are doing a Negotiated Acquisition RFP. We can negotiate. This is a process. We will be able to do savings. We pay jointly for healthcare with City. Retiree side, we have to be clear, we age at forty and it gets worse at fifty. Options for healthcare. There is anxiety and fear, mostly among retiree chapter. How long can we remain the unicorn? This will come to active people. With a split government, we are not going to get federal intervention. National goal is to make sure people know this is the national priority. For our retirees, we were looking to do a Medicare Advantage Plus that nobody else had. The company lost $100 million and got out. No plans to have a Medicare Advantage at this time. The committee needs the authority to say something isn't followed and we could go to arbitrator. Prior authorization for active people. Medical necessity, some hospitals do unnecessary testing, and so do insurance companies. We need independent medical experts. Medicare Advantage is off the table for now. Senior care is not an Advantage plan. Medicare pays for 80%. 20% is on us and the city. Why a big copay on one urgent care? They were way overcharging us. We told other companies. All agreed to lower costs for us except for one. One refused and we raised copay. We are trying to get best healthcare for best price. Memorial Sloan Kettering is good on service and price. We felt our Medicare Advantage was the best.

In court case, judge ruled wrongly, we believe, that any plan below the HIP rate must be given for free. We have 8 plans for retirees. 2 are free; 6 are pay-up plans. Those 6 pay-up plans according to judge must be premium free. GHI doesn't have many providers in Nevada. Judges ruling says the city doesn't have to pay for more than one plan. The judge ruled the city can go forward with Medicare Advantage. We want basic union authority. Collective bargaining rights are the basis for all of our rights. City negotiated pay-up plans. All of us have price tag on us. 100% of cost we have to figure out how to pay for but for retirees, they will never reach the HIP-HMO rate. Someone took away our collective bargaining rights. Over 10,000 responses to City Council. This isn't going away. It will be a big issue in Albany. We have best healthcare because of what our welfare fund does. We can do savings that make sense. Urgent care is number one health provider. City MD is used most often. This is something we have to focus on. Different unions fighting. RFP is an opportunity for in-service people. We have to have everything in writing. We have to go hard at City Council. 

Coat Drive

This Saturday it will be the biggest one we've ever done. Thanks Rich Mantell. It is great and sad. Happy Thanksgiving. Find new teachers, they made it to Thanksgiving. 

Staff Director's Report

Hundreds of people rallying for early childcare workers. Coat drive Saturday. Elementary toy drive. Donate at borough office. World Aids Day candlelight march Dec 1. African Heritage Committee Kwanza celebration. Happy SRP week. Next DA Dec 14.

Question Period

Question: Taylor Law protects right to collective bargaining?

Mulgrew Answer: 6 pay-up plans that retirees have to pay for. We want access to premium free health plan. City has a ruling that says they have to offer one plan. They cannot charge up for it unless it is above the HIP rate.  It ensures that if we get a Medicare Advantage plan, there will be no option. We have 9,000 policy holders in other plans. They would lose it. There is collective bargaining under the Taylor Law. Right to negotiate payups for retirees has been taken away from us. All we want is right to negotiate as we have negotiated for 40 years. We want to clarify our right to negotiate what we have negotiated for over 40 years. We have to get something that has been taken away from us.

Question: What are the next steps for the implementation of class size law? Slogan: Class size: it's the law.

Answer: Great slogan. Talking to SED. 20% must be involved in year one must be schools with most poverty. Parents don't want kids thrown out of schools. We told DOE what schools were the 20%. DOE talking about waivers.

Question: We have been required to use GAMA for grades.

Answer: That is redundancy and we could deal with that.

Question: Elementary school teachers with I Ready and other assessments. Why are we still doing them?

Answer: The problem is child can't read. We don't need repetitive assessments. Let us take it up at Superintendent's level. Some is out of control. Some positive, and some negative with the new Superintendent system. Telling schools to change IEPs is a problem.

Question: 3 administrators observing a new teacher's class at the same time. It is intimidating. Can they do that?

Answer: DOE will tell us they are norming. There has to be an open dialogue here. I understand quality assurance. We will come in if they don't change it. This is not a cooking contest. What is the dialogue with the teachers? How are we providing professional development?

New Motion Period

Compliance with special ed and ENL students. 

Superintendents saying they don't have money. We need to get to get support. 

562-30 vote to close the debate online. There is no opposition in the room.

Vote to put it on next month's agenda passes with overwhelming support.

Resolution for next month

Ronnie Almonte and Janella Hinds bring up resolution supporting  Dominican teachers being abused in NYC.

Employer, principal Polanco told teachers from DR they had to live in room principal was renting. Support teachers and get help from AFT.

Speaker against is Dermott Myrie. We need to protect the people, the Chapter Leaders who are here.  

On phone is 197 Yes - 7 No in the room. 526 Yes - 96 No on phone. 88% in favor. It is added for next month.

Special Orders of Business

Support for Diwali resolution, making it a holiday. 

Vote to close debate passes.

Vote on resolution: In-room I couldn't hear count.  On Phone  480 Yes - 50 No. It passes.

Haitian Revolution resolution,

Support Haitian Revolution teaching. It inspired many. Toussaint Louverture's slave revolt led to the overthrow of the French. We have to teach the truth.

Nobody speaks against it. 

Resolution passes easily 480 to 58 online, I couldn't hear vote in person. It passes. 

Support for striking workers at Starbucks and Amazon. 

Janella Hinds speaks for this resolution.

Amendment to get specific to include member support of local actions like sip-ins at Starbucks. Get chapter members to show support. Organize in stores. Janella Hinds recognizes the amendment and supports it. 

Amendmet and resolution both pass easily. 

Mulgrew wishes all a Happy Thanksgiving. 

Monday, November 14, 2022


 As we are fighting here in NYC to just maintain our health benefits while trying to stop illegal working conditions for some teachers, in Massachusetts teachers have been waging illegal strike activities in various school districts and winning. 

This is from Malden, Mass:

The Malden Education Association and Malden School Committee have reached a tentative agreement on a contract, bringing an end to a teachers strike in the Massachusetts city.

The strike started Monday after the two sides could not reach a deal following 11 hours at the negotiating table on Sunday.

Malden Public Schools canceled classes on Monday with educators walked the picket lines in the morning before holding a rally in the afternoon, as union leaders resumed negotiations with the School Committee that were ultimately successful.

Some details on the settlement:

Deb Gesualdo, president of the MEA, said 97 percent of the union’s more than 700 members voted to approve the contract, which she claimed includes raises for teachers and administrators and an entirely new pay scale for paraprofessionals that will “move them closer to a living wage.”

Haverhill, Mass educators also walked off the job last month:

School was in session Friday in Haverhill for the first time all week, after the teachers union and city officials reached a tentative contract agreement late Thursday night.

The agreement ended a four-day strike that began Monday. Teachers walked off the job over issues including low pay, school security and staffing levels.

The settlement:

Under the agreement, Haverhill educators will receive 3% to 4% raises annually through the 2025 fiscal year. Average teacher salary in Haverhill as of 2020 was about $75,000, which is about $10,000 lower than the state average.

The MOU also establishes a joint task force on school safety that will develop an electronic monitoring system for student disturbances and will expand on efforts to promote diversity and fight racism in the district.

The signed return-to-work agreement includes a commitment that neither the city’s school committee nor the union will take disciplinary action due to individuals’ conduct during the strike.

Their anti-public sector strike law up in Massachusetts is similar to the NYS Taylor. Unions and striking workers are fined quite heavily. Teachers over there, however, have said enough already. When will militancy come back to NY?

Saturday, November 12, 2022


I sometimes wonder just how low some administrators at the New York City Department of Education can go. I shouldn't be surprised by this story from Sue Edelman and Georgia Worrell in the NY Post but I still am:

Bilingual teachers brought from the Dominican Republic to work in New York City public schools have been treated like indentured servants by educators acting as their slumlords, The Post has learned.

Bronx principal Emmanuel Polanco and a group of fellow Department of Education administrators have put nearly a dozen teachers recruited from the DR in an apparently illegal boarding house in The Bronx — and charge the instructors $1,450 each month for the privilege, multiple sources say.

Polanco and his associates threaten to say “adios” to anyone who doesn’t go along, several teachers told The Post.

“If you leave, you might get in trouble,” teacher Rafael De Paula, 39, said the recruits were warned. “You can leave, but if you go, you go back to the Dominican Republic.”

Several teachers who balked at the terms or insisted on finding their own housing — including one who wanted to live with his brother in NYC – were terminated and sent packing, their colleagues said. Others fear they may lose their J-1 visas, which allow foreigners to work or study in the US if they disobey.

“It’s a big embarrassment,” said a DOE insider informed of the lucrative scheme. “It also has the potential to damage the relationship between New York City and the DR if they don’t do right by these teachers.”

Since most of the newcomers lost their jobs in the DR when they joined the DOE program, they can’t afford to be expelled because they support families left behind.

“Right now, if I went back to the Dominican Republic, the only thing that I would find there, other than my family, is financial problems,” said Neylin Puello, 31, who teaches aviation at JHS 80 along with other recruits — where Polanco is their boss.

We can ask our usual questions about how the DOE didn't know this was happening, why there is almost no real accountability for anything but bureaucratic nonsense in the school system, and of course why wasn't the UFT aware and raising a public stink about this. They of course will have no decent answers.

The next obvious question is how the DOE could trust someone like Polanco to be part of a program that involved another country. It's not like the DOE didn't know about Polanco's reputation.

This is from our late colleague Chaz. It is from January 2018:

Leadership Academy Principal Emmanuel Polanco Is In The News Again.

The Leadership Academy Principal of JHS 80 in the Bronx, Emmanual Polanco, also known as "El Siki" in his racy video is in the news again.  This time staff members have contacted the UFT, DOE, and even the FBI to investigate his wrongdoings at the school.  Before I go into the New York Post article, Principal Polanco was previously highlighted by the New York Daily News and my post.  You can find both Here.  You can see his racy YouTube video Here.  Moreover, he was accused of trying to push out a veteran teacher by calling her "Shrek" and refused to provide training.  Finally, he was also accused of discrimination by favoring and hiring younger Hispanic teachers.

In today's New York Post there is an article that shows the various problems at JHS 80, many of them attributed to the Principal, Emmanuel Polanco.  Let's identify the issues at the school.

Student Discipline:

Violence and fighting are rampant;  unqualified cronies — including a paraprofessional who has acted as a dean — serve in key positions; disruptive students face few consequences.

Covering up assaults:

In one outrageous case The DOE says it is investigating a November incident in which two eighth-grade boys allegedly lifted a sixth-grader by his arms and legs, and dropped him on his head, causing him to pass out and convulse.

A staff member told the FBI and the DOE that administrators delayed calling an ambulance, then forced the eighth-graders and a teacher who witnessed the cruelty to give statements calling it an accident.  “They lied to the parents,” the distraught staffer told an FBI hotline. “Someone’s child is going to die if nothing is done.”  Kids have cut themselves and others — during class, the source said.

Discrimination and Favoritism

The Principal is known to discriminate against veteran and outspoken teachers and to favor young Hispanic teachers, giving a young Hispanic Paraprofessional a Dean's position when it requires that the position to be a teacher.  The majority of teachers at the school are untenured and teacher turnover appears to be high, an indicator of an unstable school environment.

Why does the school struggle academically?  Just look at the Principal since the buck stops with him. WCBS-TV did a story on the school and you can find it Here.

The problematic history Chaz chronicles goes back to 2013.

Not only did the DOE sit by, they encouraged Polanco and his organization, the Association of Dominican American Supervisors and Administrators to set up the program to recruit these teachers from the Dominican Republic.

Educators of NYC are on this today on Twitter:.

Back to the Post to see what Chancellor David Banks said about ADASA in September:

“There is no organization in our public schools that means more to me than ADASA,” Chancellor David Banks gushed at a September 15 press conference announcing the recruitment of 25  teachers to help with the influx of Spanish-speaking migrants. Echoing Mayor Adams’ mantra, he added,  “ADASA gets stuff done.”

It looks like getting stuff done means shaking teachers down:

But a Post investigation found ADASA could be stuffing its pockets.

Ying Qing Li of Fox River Grove, Ill., bought the duplex in July for $810,000 as an investment, she said. Her agent, Elsa Ni, said the house was leased to ADASA, which pays $6,900 a month for both units. Ni understood the building would house teachers from the DR but said she had no idea how many would move in.

ADASA charges 10 teachers $1,450 a month, and one $1,300, each for single rooms, the teachers said. The $15,800 in rent collected would net a monthly profit of $8,900. Another Bronx building run by ADASA houses eight teachers, and a third is rented by three teachers, sources said.

Puello said he is charged $1,300 a month, not $1,450 like the others because his room is the smallest, furnished only with a full-sized bed, a  dresser, and a wall-mounted TV.

Four male teachers occupy the third floor of the building, sharing a kitchen and full bathroom. Seven female teachers rent rooms on the first floor and second floors. They also share a kitchen and bathroom, the tenants said.

Each rented room has door locks, they said. Housing lawyers and the city Department of Buildings said that would constitute a single-room occupancy, or SRO, which is illegal in NYC — and possibly dangerous in an emergency — unless previously approved. The building has no record of preexisting SRO units, said DOB spokesman Andrew Rudansky, adding that the agency will inspect the premises if it gets a complaint and possibly issue a vacate order.

Several teachers who spoke to the Post fumed at the rental cost. “We know we can get it cheaper somewhere else,” Puello said. “I have to support myself and my family at home. I’m working for rent.” 

And more:

The teachers were first assured they could bring their families, but “at the last minute,” were told to come alone for the first year or so. Puello said. Missing his five-year-old daughter’s birthday this month “was the hardest thing ever.”

To make matters worse, the teachers are being underpaid and are getting no benefits:

The Dominican teachers said they get roughly $1,800 after taxes and other deductions in twice-monthly DOE paychecks. They are paid as substitutes — roughly $199.27 per day — pending NY state certification. Long-term subs may earn slightly more and get some sick or vacation days.

Unless these teachers were all replacing teachers on leave, they should all be getting paid on the regular payroll. Even if they are replacing teachers on leave, they have survived their sixty days and need to be put on the regular payroll and get their benefits, including medical. I have copied Article 7V of the UFT Contract. It doesn't say they can be paid as day-to-day subs if they are not yet certified. Who are they subbing for? Themselves.

V. Regular Payroll Status for Per Diem Substitutes 

1. The Board (“Department”) will pay on the regular payroll (i.e. Q payroll) any per diem substitute provided that he/she either: 

(A)(i) was employed by the Department to replace a regularly appointed teacher who is in a Vacancy (as defined herein); (ii) commenced employment later than the fifteenth calendar day following the first day for the reporting of newly appointed teachers; and (iii) was employed for a minimum of two months; or

 (B)(i) was employed by the Department to cover a Vacancy; and (ii) commenced employment during the first fifteen calendar days of the term. 

2. For purposes of this section, a Vacancy is a position that is filled by a substitute teacher under the following circumstances: 

(A)there is no regular appointed teacher and the position is an unencumbered vacancy; or 

(B) when the regularly appointed teacher is (a) on a sabbatical leave of absence for the full term or full school year; (b) on an unpaid leave of absence for the duration of the school year; (c) on an approved leave due to an injury in the line of duty (“ILOD”) and the ILOD leave is for the duration of the school year; (d) reassigned for the duration of 53 the school year, however the substitute teacher shall not receive regular payroll status (i.e. Q payroll) for the first sixty (60) days of service in this assignment; (e) absent on paid status (i.e. using their Accumulated Absence Reserve (CAR), or borrowing up to 20 additional CAR days and/or utilizing the grace period) and whose status is subsequently adjusted to unpaid leave status for the duration of the school year; or (f) on an approved paid absence (i.e. using their CAR days and/or utilizing the grace period) for the duration of the school year.

CBS2 reports that Polanco has been reassigned. It's about time.

As CBS2's Marcia Kramer reports, MS 80 in the Bronx is a school in turmoil. CBS2 has learned that its principal, Emmanuel Polanco, has been reassigned by Schools Chancellor David Banks as city and federal investigators sift through a sea of disturbing allegations that several teachers brought here from the Dominican Republic were reportedly forced by the principal to pay shakedown rent payments or have their visas yanked. 

This is criminal activity. Anybody involved here if convicted should be held to account. No golden parachutes here, please.

Friday, November 11, 2022


There is some excellent analysis of the midterm election results from Ross Barkan's Political Currents. He writes mainly about how Democrats lost the Asian vote in New York but here is his take on the overall results:

Democrats under these circumstances—the midterm backlash, the unpopular president, persistently high inflation—performed quite well, flipping Pennsylvania, holding onto governor’s mansions in the Midwest, and even knocking out a few House Republicans. It’s plausible, at this point, Democrats will keep the Senate, something I did not think would happen on Tuesday morning. Mark Kelly holds a lead in Arizona and Raphael Warnock can defeat Herschel Walker in a runoff. In Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto is behind, but she’s not dead yet as votes are waiting to be counted in Democratic areas.

Now let's talk about New York where the statewide Democratic incumbents Kathy Hochul, Chuck Schumer, Tish James, and Tom DeNapoli won but Republicans may have won the House of Representatives by turning over seats in New York including where I live (NY 3). But:

They [Republicans] chipped away at the Assembly’s Democratic majority, though it appears it will remain veto-proof. The Long Island washout hurt State Senate Democrats, but redistricting had been kinder to them, and they were able to net seats elsewhere. On the state level, at least, Democrats will be in full control, with progressives and socialists able to advocate for tangible change in Albany.

What does total Democratic control in Albany and probably some kind of split government in DC mean for public education? 

I very much doubt the charter school cap will be lifted. As for funding, even if the federal government makes some budget cuts, money for education more than likely won't be gutted. If New York's new Congressmen are the difference in making a Republican majority in the House, they have to do something for their constituents or they will be quite vulnerable in 2024. They will be blamed if funds for schools are cut. 

Does anyone have an opinion on how the next two years will go?

Tuesday, November 08, 2022


 I am a dissident member of the United Federation of Teachers and I am also a proud member of the Professional Staff Congress in my job as a CUNY adjunct. PSC-CUNY President James Davis sent us all an email (see below) yesterday urging us to tell the City Council to oppose changing Administrative Code 12-126 which would force retirees onto privatized Medicare Advantage or to have to pay premiums for healthcare. The City could also do something similar with active City employees by forcing employees to take a cheap, inferior health plan or pay premiums. Please read what President Davis wrote and continue to email and call Councilmembers urging them to oppose any change to Administrative Code 12-126.

Dear PSC member,
I hope this finds you well, and I hope that you have a plan to vote! Please don’t sit this one out - the stakes are high.
I am writing with an update on the struggle to maintain quality, premium-free health care benefits for CUNY employees and retirees, and with an urgent ask of you
What started more than a year ago as a dispute over Medicare Advantage has become a struggle embroiling the Adams administration, the City Council, the Municipal Labor Committee, and union members. The outcome could affect the health benefits for CUNY retirees and their dependents, as well as the health benefits for active members. Despite its technical elements, the struggle boils down to this: the City must address the rising cost of health care without sacrificing quality or imposing premiums on employees and retirees. The PSC believes there are alternatives to the current path the City has chosen, and we urge you to contact your City Council member, Speaker Adrienne Adams, and Mayor Eric Adams to say so.
The Municipal Labor Committee, the group of unions that bargain with the City over health care, voted last year to transition retirees from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan. The PSC was one of the unions that opposed this shift. A group of municipal retirees sued, and the court blocked the City from imposing premiums on retirees who opted out of Medicare Advantage. The City appealed the decision, but it is a lengthy process. So the Adams administration has threatened to delay negotiating raises for open union contracts unless the MLC supports the shift to Medicare Advantage, despite the fact that many municipal retirees do not want it and cannot afford the roughly $200/month premium to opt out of Medicare Advantage and keep their current Medicare/Medigap plan.
The Adams administration is reportedly considering imposing a single Medicare Advantage plan for all Medicare-eligible retirees, without any other options, unless the City Council agrees to change NYC Administrative Code 12-126, the law that governs the provision of health benefits.* The proposed change would remove the floor beneath the City contribution to employee and retiree health care, permitting the City to implement a Medicare Advantage plan without even having approved a contract and to impose premiums on retirees who opt out. It could also potentially erode the health benefits of active employees because it would turn a benefit that is guaranteed by law into a subject of collective bargaining between the City and the MLC. As you know, the PSC was among the few MLC unions that voted against the proposed Administrative Code change, and we continue to oppose it. PSC members have sent nearly 5,000 letters to City Council representatives - send yours today if you have not done so already.
While we organize against these harmful, anti-worker plans of the Adams administration, we realize it is not enough just to say No. We have advocated that the City work with the MLC on other ways to contain the skyrocketing cost of health care, including self-insurance, collective drug purchasing, dealing aggressively with exorbitant hospital charges, and issuing a formal request for proposals for a comprehensive benefits plan so the City’s current provider is incentivized to do better. We believe in the long run a single-payer health insurance program is necessary, but we also recognize the urgency of the moment and believe that the City must not place the burden of saving $600 million annually on the backs of municipal retirees and their dependents by forcing them into a Medicare Advantage plan or into premiums for opting out. We have advocated for an alternate source of funding from the City’s current reserves and are pressing for this alternative approach with Council members and the MLC leadership. 
In solidarity,
James Davis, President

Monday, November 07, 2022


The UFT called for an Executive Board meeting tonight that will be closed to anyone outside of the Executive Board. It is called Executive Session. The UFT Constitution allows for any UFT member to attend Executive Board meetings and many have while the meetings have been a hybrid model either in person or on Zoom since 2021. For this school year, the presence of seven non-Unity Caucus members has forced the leadership to have to answer actual tough questions. (We got something out of the UFT election.)

The last Executive Board meeting audio was leaked to Marianne Pizzitola, President of the NYC Organization of Public Sector Retirees, who is standing up to Unity arguably better than anyone in the 62-year history of this union. Marianne is not a UFT member, however, she is a union supporter. She is an FDNY-EMS retiree who was part of DC 37, another government employee union in NYC. 

Many of my colleagues in the opposition in the UFT are not happy that Marianne is out there exposing the UFT and Municipal Labor Committee by playing audio of meetings that have been leaked. Under most circumstances, I would agree that she has no business monitoring the UFT but the UFT as one of the biggest MLC unions has a big say on healthcare and our leadership doesn't fight fair as most of you here know full well. 

I personally (definitely not speaking for the Independent Community of Educators here) want Marianne to be successful and if she believes it is necessary to expose union leaders giving misinformation at meetings, so be it. The UFT is leading the charge to force all City government retirees to swallow healthcare givebacks where we will either have to pay premiums for healthcare or settle for cheaper plans that will more than likely be inferior. The City and MLC already agreed to Medicare Advantage or premiums for retirees until they were stopped in court but they are trying for round two by lobbying the City Council to change the law on healthcare for City workers and retirees. Just about everyone believes active members will be next to have to decide to pay premiums or accept inferior care

Marianne has much more of a base than we do here at ICEUFT. She is not anti-union. She is a union supporter. Many of my colleagues in the opposition in the UFT support her but they are not happy that Marianne is out there exposing a UFT meeting.

All I can say is it's 2022; electronic secrecy is hard to keep, particularly when there isn't rudimentary trust of union leaders. I don't trust ours at all.  If they need to tighten security, then they should tighten security. Marianne penetraing their bubble scares them.

Marianne's group has already beaten the City-MLC in court to stop privatized Medicare Advantage Plus (Mulgrewcare). They are probably going to win again on appeal and there is a realistic chance if we keep up the pressure that the City Council will not change the Administrative Code which guarantees the City will pay the full cost of healthcare for active City workers and retirees up to the HIP-HMO rate. 

NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees hired a lawyer named Steve Cohen. He wrote an op-ed in today's Daily News that calls the unions out on their misinformation. He understands the City has financial difficulties when it comes to healthcare, but he states:

The city spends an estimated $9 billion annually on health insurance for its employees, retirees and their dependents. But that estimate is a bit dodgy, as the city is stingy with facts. Moreover, the MLC and some of the individual unions have been remarkably irresponsible in peddling false information.

The UFT is one of the unions peddling false information. That will surprise nobody here.

More from Cohen's piece:

 Apparently, the MLC never expected these seniors and disabled first responders to challenge them in court and win. So, now the city has said to the MLC: Change the law or else.

Unfortunately, the [City] Council is being asked to operate in the dark. They are not getting accurate information from the city or the MLC. For example, [MLC Chair Harry] Nespoli claims the “money that pays care has run out.” It has not. The city’s budget for FY 2022 is the largest ever at $101.7 billion. And the comptroller’s report for FY 2021 shows the Health Stabilization Fund to have more than $900 million in it. Meanwhile, the Council is being pressured to not even meet with the “rump” retirees who have identified more than $500 million in potential health-care savings.

No one wants to see the city go broke. And no one denies the need to find savings. But it shouldn’t be done on the backs of retirees or based on phony facts.

If we let Mulgrew and friends just do what they want and stand behind the confidentiality of our meetings, we will lose. There needs to be some transparency.

Update: Since they were in Executive Session, don't expect any kind of report from the Executive Board tonight. All members must follow the UFT Code of Omerta. I wouldn't try to get them to break that. 

Saturday, November 05, 2022


The unions controlling the Municipal Labor Committee led by Michael Mulgrew are trying once again to privatize Medicare for retirees (Mulgrewcare)and weaken healthcare for active City workers. First, they need to change city law that protects premium free healthcare. We must stop them.

There is a petition out there to the City Council opposing the change to the City's Administrative Code 12-126. The change would allow the City to contribute much less for our healthcare for active and retired city workers. Please sign the petition and spread it everywhere.

Keep contacting City Council members urging them to oppose changing the Code.

Also, Retiree Advocate will be having a Zoom on Administrative Code 12-126 on Sunday evening at 7:00 p.m. There is a link to register at EdNotes.

Wednesday, November 02, 2022


Just about everything the UFT sends to members on healthcare givebacks is easy to debunk. The only debate seems to be whether the UFT is sending out misinformation or disinformation (intentional bs).

The UFT wants you to lobby the City Council to change Administrative Code 12-126 (City law). Let's try to get down to the basics of what that means.

 The current Administrative Code 12-126 says that the City must pay the full cost of heathcare up to the HIP-HMO rate ($919 a month presently) for each municipal employee and retiree.

Proposed Change: Add language to Administrative Code 12-126 so the City can pay less than the HIP-HMO rate of $919 a month for employee and retiree healthcare. The City and Municipal Labor Committee (umbrella group of city worker unions) want to change the administrative code so they can offer all of us a cheaper health plan and force us to pay premiums if we don't want the new, cheaper plan.

Anybody who thinks a cheaper benchmark plan will pay for better healthcare is either on the UFT or another union in the MLC that supports the change payroll or City's Office of Labor Relations payroll or they are a big optimist.

The City-MLC plan seems obvious. Change 12-126 and then find a cut rate healthcare plan and offer it as the premium free healthcare option for active City employees and then make active employees pay for the premium-free healthcare they have today. 

Let's say the new cut rate plan costs the City $500 per month.

HIP-HMO is $919 per month. You will have to pay $419 per month for HIP.

GHI-CBP is around $950 per month. You will pay $450 per month to keep GHI.

You would pay substantially more to keep the other more expensive plans that cost more than the HIP-HMO rate.

The City will save a fortune. A portion of the savings will be given back to employees in salary increases.

For the cut rate premium free plan, the City and MLC will say it is just like HIP and GHI. Will it be? Can we get a better plan at a substantially lower price? I am skeptical, very skeptical. Shouldn't they develop the plan and then try it out as a pilot program first before trying to throw out our $918 a month healthcare guarantee?

The City-MLC tried this on retirees until a judge stopped them earlier this year because of 12-126. 

The choice would have been to go into Medicare Disadvantage (privatized Mulgrewcare) with its pre-approvals traditional public does not require or a retiree could pay $191 per month per person to stay in the GHI Senior Care they have now premium-free. The City-MLC want to change 12-126 to have a second go at imposing Mulgrewcare or premiums on retirees. This time, it will be administered by Aetna, a for profit company. Are their profits going to come by expanding care? Not likely. 

The only way to stop this is for every city worker and retiree to put aside whatever differences we may have, draw a line in the sand and then fight by saying, "Hands off our healthcare." We will have to battle like crazy to keep what we have today.

You can help by calling or emailing your local City Council member and urging them to vote NO on changing Administrative Code  12-126.

Find Council members here.

This piece was updated to show a $919 HIP-HMO rate. We originally had $925.