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 for...health 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.